Prescription Drug Abuse

What Is Narcotic Abuse?

When used only for short-term pain relief or anxiety, patients are unlikely to become addicted to narcotics. However, some narcotics provide an intoxicating high when injected or taken orally in strong doses. Narcotic abuse is the deliberate use of a narcotic medication beyond or without a doctor's prescription, with the intent of getting high by initially relieving anxiety, for example.

As this behavior continues, drug dependence begins as the body develops a tolerance to the substance. In order for a person to keep receiving the same sensations from the drug, stronger doses, increasing frequency of use, or both are required. Evidence of physical addiction begins when a person weens drug use or stops use, only to be met with intense drug withdrawal symptoms. These can be cumbersome, so much so, that the least invasive option is to return to drug use.

Once physical drug dependence is in place, narcotic addiction brings specific psychological effects: compulsive behaviors focused on getting the drug, cravings and continued drug use despite negative consequences such as legal problems, losing a job, and compromising important relationships.

Opioids, for example, are powerful pain relievers and are one of the most commonly abused drugs in the U.S. but other drugs, prescribed to help ease the symptoms of panic disorders are on the rise.

What are other types of narcotic drug abuse?

  • Benzodiazepines such as Valium, Ativan and Xanax
  • Barbiturates such as Seconal, Amytal, Nembutal and Luminal

Busy people are often overworked, overcommitted both personally and vocationally, and seldom have enough time to engage in the self-care needed to relax, unwind, and naturally calm the mind. Over time, this can lead to the development of anxiety disorders. To treat these conditions, many people are prescribed benzodiazepines to help mitigate the symptoms of stress.

Barbituates and benzodiazepines active ingredients collectively work to depress the central nervous system, reducing heightened symptoms of distress. While these have less pain-relieving effects, they are nonetheless sedating and anxiety-relieving. Dependency on these drugs can take place as the mind believes use is needed to keep calm and deal with foreseen and unforeseen stressful events.

The body also develops dependence as tolerance builds. Should there be circumstances when the drug of choice is not available to an individual who has become reliant on use, the very anxiety they are trying to curb can escalate to dangerous levels. Unfortunately, this is a prime example of one of the many intense withdrawal symptoms that can come about abruptly once discontinuation of use begins. This is why medically-assisted detox or drug tapering is recommended for narcotic addiction treatment.

What are the symptoms of narcotic abuse?

Symptoms of narcotic abuse include:

  • Analgesia, or feeling no pain
  • Confusion or poor judgment
  • Constipation
  • Euphoria, or feeling high
  • Itching or flushed skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sedation
  • Shallow or slow breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Small pupils

What are the symptoms of narcotic drug withdrawal?

If a person stops using narcotics abruptly after they have become physically dependent on the drug, they will experience drug withdrawal symptoms, which may include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Drug craving
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Goose pimples
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Nasal stuffiness
  • Rapid breathing
  • Runny nose
  • Salivation
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Yawning

The symptoms of narcotic drug withdrawal aren't always medically dangerous. But they can be agonizing and intolerable, and may lead to continued drug abuse and supplementing their would-be effects with alcohol overconsumption, a deadly combination.

Treatment for Narcotic Addiction

Methadone or Suboxone can help prevent withdrawal symptoms during a process called detoxification ("detox"), part of a medication-assisted treatment program. After detox is completed and the body and the brain are rid of the drug, physical dependence on the drug has been removed, but psychological dependence may continue. This lives in the form of environmental triggers and cravings for drug use. And because drug addiction is a recurring disease, potential relapse in response to stress and other life circumstances will continually test the recovery process.

At Fifth Avenue Psychiatry, we provide a coveted and unique approach to treating drug addiction and the corresponding mental health conditions that can fuel the disease. Our outpatient detox, along with behavioral health therapies, provides professionals and other high profile individuals the privacy and confidentiality they need, in the comfortable and discreet surroundings they deserve.

Through ongoing detailed health assessments and a personal approach to recovery, each patient experiences “treatment by design” to meet their individual needs in a manner that suits them best. Efficient, evidence-based, effective, and exceptional.

If your loved one is challenged by drug dependency or you have concerns that your own drug use has exponentially shifted into addiction, contact us to discuss the matter in confidence and to schedule a consultation.

Contact Fifth Avenue Psychiatry

Office address:
3 East 85th Street
New York NY 10028
T. 212-734-0506

Or use the convenient Online Contact Form, by clicking here

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