PRESCRIPTION DRUG ABUSE PREVENTION PROGRAMGETTING HELP
Stopping prescription medication abuse is more difficult than it sounds, especially if someone has developed an addiction to the medications they are taking. Most individuals cannot stop addiction on their own and benefit from a formal in- or out-patient treatment center. Some individuals think they can quit on their own and decide to quit "cold turkey." However, this strategy can be dangerous and even deadly.
• Opiate withdrawal symptoms begin 8-12 hours after the last dose of medications. Symptoms resemble the flu and include watery eyes, sweating, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in addition to marked decrease in appetite, insomnia, and extreme sensitivity to touch or movement. The first 72 hours are usually the most severe and uncomfortable. Although many treatment and detox centers can aid in lessening the discomfort of symptoms, detox from opiates does not necessitate medical supervision. Symptoms typically disappear within 7-10 days, although many individuals in recovery have continued difficulties with sleep disturbances.
• Benzodiazepine and barbiturate withdrawal symptoms can be life threatening, requiring that detoxification be supervised by a medical professional. Symptoms may appear as early as 12 hours, or as long as seven days following the last dose, depending on the medication, and may included tremors, sweating, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, increased blood pressure, seizures, hallucinations, and psychosis. Treatment and detox centers usually titrate these medications over a longer period of time to minimize symptoms and mitigate any medical complications. Even for individuals who are not addicted to these medications, they should never be discontinued without consulting with a physician first.
• Stimulant withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, feeling depressed, lethargic, low motivation, and reduced ability to experience pleasure (anhedonia). Changes in heart rhythm may also be experienced, and should result in visiting a physician. Although withdrawal from stimulants does not require medical detox, often individuals will use again to alleviate their feelings of discomfort. Therefore, seeking a treatment or social detox center may be the best option for those wanting to stop their use.
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Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program: Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health
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