Many drugs have a dual identity. Used the right way they can take away pain or calm anxiety, while abused in other ways they can cause destruction.
But not every relationship with prescription medications can be classified as either entirely therapeutic or completely abusive. People can use a medication, or even multiple medications, to relieve legitimate medical symptoms while also developing an addiction to that same drug. Treating your addiction when the drugs being abused are also providing relief from continuing disorders requires special care and considerations.
The first way that the abuse of multiple medications complicates addiction recovery is in the detoxing phase. Detoxing from multiple drugs must be done under the close care and supervision of doctors. For example, if not done properly, a sudden stop of benzodiazepine use can create fatal withdrawal symptoms.
Although very painful, withdrawal from opioid medication by itself does not create any direct danger. It can, however, further complicate the withdrawal from benzodiazepines, alcohol or other drugs. Reducing these drugs slowly or even introducing similar drugs are ways doctors can mitigate the impact of withdrawal and ensure you are healthy at the end of the detox phase of recovery.
Insomnia, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are all serious conditions treated with a class of drug called benzodiazepines. But these same drugs can also become drugs of abuse and addiction. A part of the psychological addiction can be a fear of the original symptoms returning once the medication is stopped.
At the same time, treatment for the problem that originally prompted the benzodiazepine use must continue or even intensify. Fortunately, there is a wide range of alternative treatments for the problems that benzodiazepines are used to treat. Other drugs, such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be effective against PTSD and anxiety, but have almost no potential for abuse and addiction. Non-drug treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation can also be effective.
Chronic pain can be treated in many ways. Physical rehabilitation can help heal the root cause of it in some cases. Relaxation, exercise and meditation can give some measure of control over pain that can’t be stopped. But nothing can match the power of opiates to take away continuous, chronic debilitating pain.
Some practitioners have learned to work toward different goals for chronic pain sufferers addicted to opiate pain pills. Instead of the rigid and basic goal of total abstinence, the legitimate goal for a pain sufferer can be the reduction of use to the level that grants them the most functionality. Learning to only take the medications orally, rather than injecting the drugs for a strong rush, is acceptable. Taking the drug in regular doses is also important. By giving up the rush and euphoria of recreational opiate use while maintaining pain relief, opiate users can shift from drug abuse to addiction recovery.
If you or someone you know is addicted to multiple medications or relies on a drug of addiction for medical treatment, call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to learn more about treatment for this kind of addiction. The call is toll free.