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Prescription Drug Addiction in Vermont


Prescription drug abuse is a serious issue across the United States, with more people misusing and over using prescription medications each year. The vast majority of prescription drug abuse falls into three categories: opiate painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants. Prescription drug addiction in Vermont and elsewhere requires comprehensive treatment and support, with medical detox programs initiated to support drug discontinuation, rehab initiated to treat the psychological aspects of addiction, and aftercare programs designed to promote long-term recovery. If you know anyone who is living with prescription drug addiction in Vermont, it’s important to contact a professional drug and alcohol treatment center as soon as you can.

Prescription Drug Classes

While people abuse a wide range of psychoactive medications, most prescription drug abuse falls into three classes. Opiates are the most widely abused class of drugs, including the naturally occurring opium alkaloids codeine and morphine and the semi-synthetic drugs oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, methadone, and fentanyl. Sedatives, also known as tranquilizers, include barbiturates and benzodiazepines such as Valium, Librium, Serax, Klonopin, and Xanax. Stimulants are the third most widely abused drug class, including Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin. While illegal drugs such as heroin and cocaine get the majority of media attention, prescription drug abuse and dependence is responsible for more drug-induced fatalities than any illegal substance. While it is possible to abuse other types of prescription drugs, the vast majority of abuse and dependence cases fall into one of these three categories.

How are Prescription Drugs Abused?

Prescription medications are abused in many ways, with existing psychiatric patients over using existing prescriptions and other people abusing medications for non-medical reasons. Generally speaking, prescription drugs are abused whenever they are taken in a different way than originally intended by a doctor or medical professional. Common methods of prescription drug abuse include combining medications, using medications intended for someone else, over using medications, and using an alternative method of drug administration. While most prescription drugs are abused for recreational reasons, stimulants can also be taken to enhance mental and physical performance. People who abuse prescription drugs on a regular basis are putting themselves at great risk of addiction, with physical-somatic and emotional-motivational withdrawal symptoms both possible depending on the drug in question. Opiates and sedatives are capable of causing physical dependence, with stimulants capable of causing psychological dependence.

Prescription Drug Statistics in Vermont

Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem across the United States, and Vermont is certainly no exception. According to one amazing statistic form the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Americans consume 75 percent of the world’s supply of prescription drugs despite accounting for just 5 percent of the world’s population. Over 52 million Americans have used prescription medications for non-medical reasons at some point during their life, with over half of these numbers related to opiate abuse. Prescription drug abuse in Vermont is a growing concern, with drug-induced fatalities accounting for 10.9 per 100,000 population in the state according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While this is lower than the national average of 12.7 drug-induced fatalities per 100,000 population, the rate of prescription drug abuse is rising. According to the Treatment Episode Data Set produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, prescription opiates are the primary reason for treatment admissions in Vermont, followed by marijuana, cocaine, and heroin.

Prescription Opiate Abuse

Opiates are the most widely abused class of prescription drugs in Vermont and across the United States. Available as both single-ingredient and multi-ingredient products, opiates are responsible for more drug-induced deaths than any other psychoactive substance. Commonly abused opiates include the natural opium alkaloids codeine and morphine and the semi-synthetic drugs oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, and fentanyl. Along with these single-ingredient medications, drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin that contain acetaminophen are also widely abused across the country. The use of more than one medication often leads to additional complications, with people known to overdose on acetaminophen after taking larger doses than prescribed. Opiates are physically addictive, with a combination of medication treatment and psychotherapy needed to fight addiction.

Prescription Sedative Abuse

Sedatives are the second most widely abused class of prescription drugs, including barbiturates and benzodiazepines. While barbiturates are rarely prescribed in modern times, benzodiazepines such as Valium and Librium are often used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Commonly abused benzodiazepines by brand name include Xanax, Klonopin, Librium Valium, Serax and many others. These drugs are all capable of causing a physical-somatic withdrawal syndrome, including symptoms like nausea, vomiting, seizures, and hallucinations. Abrupt discontinuation of sedative drugs is not advised, with a gradual dose reduction normally recommended over a period of weeks of months. Along with extensive medication treatment, people addicted to sedative drugs are also advised to enter residential or outpatient rehab and aftercare support programs.

Prescription Stimulant Abuse

Stimulants are the third most widely abused class of prescription drugs, including Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta. These drugs are normally prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), with people also abusing them for recreation and performance enhancement. While stimulants are not associated with a physical-somatic withdrawal syndrome, they are known to cause severe motivational and emotional withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation. Withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, loss of appetite, depression, anxiety, severe drug cravings, and lack of motivation. The psychological nature of stimulant dependence means that medication treatment is largely ineffective, with most treatment programs based on motivational, cognitive, and behavioral methods.

Reaching out to an addiction professional today can change your life for the better. It’s not too late to seek help.