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Kansas Prescription Drug Addiction

Drug and alcohol problems affect people from all walks of life. People get addicted to a wide array of psychoactive substances, including alcohol, prescription medications, and illegal drugs. Prescription drug addiction in Kansas is a major problem that often requires professional treatment, including medical detox, rehabilitation, and aftercare support measures. If you or anyone you know fallen victim to Kansas prescription drug addiction and needs help, it’s important to contact an accredited treatment center as soon as you can.

How are Prescription Drugs Abused?

Prescription medications can be abused in a variety of different ways. Common methods of abuse include taking larger doses than prescribed, taking drugs prescribed for someone else, combining medications in an unintended fashion, or using a different method of drug administration than intended. For example, people often crush up pills or tablets in order to inject them or snort them for a stronger effect. This is an incredibly dangerous practice, with people often injecting secondary medications and fillers not intended for intravenous administration. People can also abuse prescription drugs by purchasing them on the black market or visiting more than one doctor in a practice known as “doctor shopping.” Generally speaking, prescription drugs are abused whenever they are taken in a different way than intended by a doctor.

Widely Abused Prescription Drugs

The vast majority of prescription drug abuse falls into three categories. Opioid painkillers are the most widely abused medications, followed by benzodiazepine sedatives and stimulants. Opioids are taken medically to treat acute and chronic pain conditions, and abused to induce feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Sedatives are taken medically for sleep and anxiety disorders, and abused for their sedative and hypnotic properties. Stimulants are taken medically to treat certain forms of obesity and attention deficit hyper-activity disorder (ADHD), and abused to induce energy and mental focus. While it is possible to abuse a number of other medications, most prescription drug abuse falls into these three categories.

Statistics for Kansas Prescription Drug Addiction and Abuse

Prescription drug abuse and dependence is a major problem across American, and Kansas is certainly no exception. While Kansas has the eighth lowest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States according to data from Trust for America’s Health, the state only scored 4 out of 10 on a new policy report card of promising strategies to help curb prescription drug abuse. 9.6 people per 100,000 suffer overdose fatalities in Kansas, with the majority of drug overdoses being related to prescription medications. With more than 6 million Americans living with a prescription substance use disorder and 50 Americans dying every day from drug overdoses, this is a serious problem that requires ongoing commitment from healthcare bodies and the wider education sector.    

Opioid Addiction and Treatment

Opioids are the most widely abused class of prescription drugs in Kansas and across the United States. While the terms “opioids” and “opiates” are often used interchangeably, they do describe different substances. Opiates are the three naturally occurring substances found in the opium poppy plant: codeine, morphine and thebaine. Opioids include these substances along with the semi-synthetic substances made from them, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone and methadone. Opioids are commonly used as a pain relief medication, especially for acute pain cases. These drugs are also widely abused for their euphoric properties, with people often abusing opioids on a recreational basis. All opioids have the potential to be highly addictive, with continued exposure to these medications often leading to tolerance and the existence of a physical withdrawal syndrome when drug use is stopped.

Treatment for opioid dependence includes a medical detox period followed by rehabilitation and aftercare. Opioid withdrawal syndrome is a serious condition that requires medical treatment, with opioid medications often used to help alleviate and manage these symptoms. Methadone is the most widely prescribed drug during detox, with the opioid agonist-antagonist buprenorphine sometimes preferred. Rehabilitation typically includes a combination of pharmacotherapy and behavioral therapy, including opioid replacement therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement therapy and much more. Relapse prevention measures also play an important role, including 12-step facilitation, SMART Recovery and sober living communities.

Sedative Addiction and Treatment

The vast majority of sedative abuse involves the benzodiazepine class of medications, including brand names such as Valium, Klonopin, Xanax, Librium and Serax. These medications are taken to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders, and also prescribed for a range of anxiety conditions. While the barbiturates class of sedative medications are also widely abused, they are much less readily available in this day and age. Benzos produce a physical-somatic withdrawal syndrome upon discontinuation, with a medical detox period often recommended. A gradual dose reduction of sedative drugs is often required to avoid dangerous withdrawal symptoms, followed by rehab and aftercare support programs.

Stimulant Addiction and Treatment

Stimulants are the third most widely abused class of prescription drugs in Kansas and across the United States. Stimulants are taken medically to treat attention deficit hyper-activity disorder and some forms of obesity, including Concerta, Ritalin and Adderall. These drugs are also widely abused to induce feelings of energy, confidence, and mental focus. Stimulants are not physically addictive like opioids or sedatives, with medication treatment not always needed. Instead, rehabilitation measures are often initiated at the outset of the treatment process, including motivational and behavioral programs. Withdrawal symptoms from stimulant drugs are motivational and emotional in nature, including drug cravings, depression, lack of motivation, and changes to sleeping and eating patterns.

Relapse Prevention and Aftercare

Aftercare programs and relapse prevention systems play an integral role when treating prescription drug abuse. Common aftercare regimes include SMART Recovery, 12-step support groups, sober living environments and practical support programs. Family therapy can also be very useful during this phase of treatment, with patients much less likely to relapse when they have access to family and community support systems.

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