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Beyond Pain Pill Addiction: Sedatives and Tranquilizers

Prescription pain pill addiction is an epidemic in America.  In Texas alone in 2008, an estimated 7,500 people were arrested for illegal possession and use of prescription drugs.  These numbers are climbing each year.  Common drugs that are abused are narcotics like Vicodin, Oxycontin, Morphine and Fentanyl.  But it is not just pain pill abuse.  There is another class of prescription drugs that are being abused.  These are the “Sedative and Tranquilizer” categories of drugs. 

Sedatives are just as addictive as pain management medications.  While the effects are different, they do provide a euphoric feeling and overall sense of well-being and calmness.  Often, sedatives are mixed with alcohol to enhance the feeling of the medication.  Because these medications can slow your heart rate and breathing, it can be a deadly cocktail to introduce alcohol into your system while taking these medications.  The most abused sedatives are Valium, Xanax and Thorazine.  These drugs are short term antidepressants, unlike Paxil, Prozac or Zoloft; they are quick to enter your system, work swiftly and then leave a few hours later.  They can be taken orally or injected to increase the speed and effects of the pill.  These sedative medications can be just as addictive as pain medications. 

The withdrawal and detoxification from these drugs is similar to other drug withdrawals.  There can be agitation, physical pain and nausea.  Drug rehab centers treat a fair number of patients who are dealing with an addiction to sedative or hypnotic types of prescription drugs.  Just as with those addicted to prescription pain medications, they may not realize the serious health issues that come with pill addiction.  They may not realize just how important residential drug treatment is to their general quality of life.  Because this classification of medication slows your heart and respiratory system, overdose can equal death.  These medications over time, even if recreationally taken at perceived “safe” levels can leave users with concentration issues, interrupted sleep, sexual dysfunction and general poor health.  However, in most cases, an addict can get their systems to return to normal functioning if they are properly weaned, detoxified and counseled with sobriety as the ending result.  This is best to be done at drug rehab centers who have a staff educated to handle prescription drug addiction.

Vista Taos, a residential drug treatment center in New Mexico stated that addiction to prescription drugs is no different than illegal drugs or alcohol addiction.  It takes a twelve step program, group therapy and family counseling to achieve a healthy lifestyle after a drug rehab centers’ work is complete.  Addiction is addiction and there are methods being practiced in residential drug treatment programs that can help someone with a sedative or tranquilizer addiction. 

Approximately sixty million people a year are prescribed sedatives by their medical doctors.  In as little as two weeks of continual use, a person can develop a dependence to these medications.  Many drug rehab centers agree that tapering the medication slowly is a critical part of the detoxification process because it makes withdrawal symptoms both easier and healthier for the patient.  Being on the medication for long periods of time is bad enough for the health of an individual; but there can be risky side effects when the medication is abruptly stopped.  It is always best to be under the care of a professional when stopping these types of medications.

Another issue is when someone who was at one time addicted to these medications now actually has a medical reason to use them.  Will they automatically end up in residential drug treatment again?  Not necessarily.  If someone experiences a high level on anxiety and simple counseling is not going to help the issue (take for instance: the death of a spouse) then often times, sedatives are prescribed to someone to help them get some rest.  This is usually a short term prescription that is given around the time of the incident.  The person should be open with their doctor if they have had an issue with addiction in the past.  The doctor can choose the best medication for them and even make sure they are tapered off the drug slowly, instead of having access to regular dosages and then completely running out or identify non-pharmacological treatments.  Coupled with counseling, these methods could prove to help someone who has had addiction problems in the past from relapsing. 

Getting assistance with a sedative or tranquilizer prescription pill addiction is important to your health and your relationships.  There are healthy ways to get over the habit that will cause minimal pain and anxiety.  Drug rehab centers are equipped with the skills and knowledge to help a person through the process of addiction treatment.  Please consider residential drug treatment if you have an addiction to prescription drugs or any substances.  Prescription drug addiction happens to even the most responsible of people.  Do not be embarrassed or ashamed, but know that if the addiction continues…it can cost you your life.

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COVID-19 update: The health and safety of our clients at Vista Taos Renewal Center continues to be our highest priority. Due to the national rise in cases of COVID-19, all potential clients entering the Vista Taos program shall be tested for the virus and must receive their results prior to admission. Vista Taos continues to work closely with the New Mexico Department of Health, adhering to the highest standards of care for our clients, and will provide subsequent testing after admission as needed. For assistance in finding the most efficient testing sites, please contact our Director of Community Relations, Jeremy Lihte, at (575) 425-1913
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