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Prescription Drug Addiction in Alabama
girl talking about drug abuse symptoms

Prescription Drug Addiction in Alabama

Prescription drugs are often an important tool in treating medical conditions. However, these drugs can be addictive and it is important that patients understand the destructive consequences of becoming dependent on these medications. Prescription drug addiction in Alabama is a growing problem that requires professional treatment to get the lives of those suffering back on track.

What Is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Prescription drug abuse is defined as the use of prescription medication more frequently or in higher doses than prescribed or without recommendation from a medical professional. Many of these drugs have powerful effects, which indicates that there is a high potential for abuse. Physicians are generally alert for signs of dependence when prescribing these medications, but patients may participate in “doctor shopping” as a means for obtaining additional prescriptions. Those affected by prescription drug addiction in Alabama often need treatment to overcome their dependence and to adjust to less addictive drugs to care for their medical condition.

How Does Addiction Develop?

An addiction can form gradually, especially if an individual is unaware of the dangers associated with the medication that they are taking. They may take the drug more frequently than was prescribed or in larger amounts than prescribed. They may experience withdrawal symptoms if drug use is suddenly stopped. In some cases, the prescription drug is diverted from its intended patient and sold on the street. Buyers may use the drug recreationally and then in time discover that they have become addicted.

Statistics on Prescription Drug Use

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse states that 52 million Americans over the age of 12 have taken prescription drugs non-medically. Between the years of 2001 and 2013 there was a 3-fold rise in the number of overdose deaths from opioid pain relievers. This same period saw a 4-fold rise in overdose deaths from benzodiazepine sedatives. Abuse of stimulants, such as Adderall and Ritalin, doubled between 2008 and 2013. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that the state of Alabama led the nation in the number of prescriptions written for narcotic painkillers. These figures signify a growing need for professional treatment to help individuals reclaim their lives from prescription drug addiction.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Generally, three categories of prescription drugs are involved in addiction: opiates, sedatives and stimulants. These drugs are widely prescribed by physicians across the country. Prescription drug abuse has become a growing problem, causing a number of states to implement tighter controls over the prescribing of these drugs. However, this abuse continues to damage the physical and mental health of many individuals.


Opiate medications are those that are derived from morphine. Prescription opiate medications have been designated as Schedule II narcotics by the United States government. Their use is intended for controlling pain in a variety of medical conditions. Opiate drugs attach to special opiate receptors in the brain and block pain signals so that patients can function more comfortably. However, these effects can also lead to abuse of the medication. Those addicted to prescription opiates may show signs of drowsiness, confusion, shortened breath, poor judgment and may also neglect responsibilities. Drugs in this category include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Related pain medications


Prescription sedatives are used to reduce severe anxiety and to aid in sleep. These drugs are generally listed under the category of drugs called benzodiazepines, which are powerful medications that can lead to abuse and addiction. As a result they have been labeled as Schedule IV substances. Those who are addicted to sedatives may exhibit memory loss, paranoia, headaches, depression, fatigue, slurred speech and poor coordination. Examples of benzodiazepine drugs include:

  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Xanax
  • Klonapin


Prescription stimulants are those that are used to control Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). However, these drugs are often used illegally by others to increase energy and mental function. Prescription stimulants have been designated as Schedule II stimulant drugs by the government. Individuals who are addicted to prescription stimulants may be agitated, irritable, have poor eating habits, undergo rapid weight loss, have an elevated body temperature, experience high blood pressure and have seizures. These drugs include:

  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta

Withdrawal Symptoms from Opiates

During withdrawal from opiates, the individual may experience chills, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea, fever, muscle pain, joint pain and may go through seizures. These reactions will continue until the drug has been completely eliminated from the body and the natural biochemical processes resume to a normal state.

Withdrawal Symptoms from Sedatives

Withdrawal from prescription sedatives can cause anxiety, insomnia, nervousness, loss of appetite, nightmares, breathing problems and seizures. Blood pressure irregularities are also common. Medical support in a treatment facility can provide help for severe withdrawal reactions.

Withdrawal Symptoms from Stimulants

Withdrawal from prescription stimulants can cause fatigue, panic attacks, confusion, vomiting and paranoia. Severe body temperature reactions and unconsciousness can also occur. Treatment facilities can offer medical support for severe withdrawal symptoms.

Treating Opiate Addiction

Treatment for opiate addiction begins with detox in order to remove the drug from the body. Medications may be used during this time to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Once this stage is complete, the patient can fully participate in their individualized treatment program. If a mental health condition is co-occurring with the addiction, the patient will be diagnosed and treated appropriately to ensure their success in recovery. Group and individualized therapy sessions, family therapy, cognitive behavioral training and relapse prevention techniques help patients to understand the process of addiction and what they can do to remain drug-free. Aftercare to support their recovery following treatment provides the necessary tools to remain clean and sober.

Treating Sedative Addiction

Treatment for sedative addiction is similar to that of opiate addiction. However, medications that replace gamma-aminobutyric acid are often prescribed to restore brain chemistry and reduce cravings.

Treating Stimulant Addiction

Treatment for stimulant addiction must also begin with withdrawal, and treatment focuses on cognitive behavioral therapy to help patients identify negative thinking patterns and better options for managing cravings.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction to these drugs, call a substance abuse center today to learn of the available options for overcoming prescription drug addiction in Alabama, so that you can rebuild a healthy and productive life.