In July, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that every day 46 people die from prescription drug overdose. This finding is in alignment with similar data released this month that shows a dramatic rise in painkiller and heroin use, with the amount nearly doubling from 1999 to 2012.
This rise in both prescription usage and overdoses is likely the result of the rise in prescribing these medications, with nearly 259 million prescriptions written for painkillers in 2012 alone. And according to TIME Magazine, the city of Chicago is suing pharmaceutical companies for “deceptively marketed opioid painkillers to manage chronic pain, even though they have a low success rate and come with a high addiction risk.” In fact, long-term prescription drug use can weaken the immune system and interrupt hormones that regulate both our physical functions and our moods.
Prescription medication is often dangerous in and of itself, but with the combination of social drinking at holiday parties and other gatherings the risk of overdosing is drastically increased. Consumer Reports states that approximately 12 percent of people report drinking two or more alcoholic drinks within just two hours of taking their medication. Research shows that most opioid deaths involve a combination of alcohol and other drugs.
Prescription painkillers can be addictive and become abused even when used as prescribed for legitimate pain. Overtime our body becomes tolerant to effects of opioids, causing those who have long-term pain to amp up the dosage in order to simply get relief. Leading research institutions found that out of 700 patients who consistently took opioids for a year or longer, 25% became dependent on the drugs; and the risk rises for women with a history of depression, anxiety and other mood disorders.
The CDC has declared American’s over use and abuse of prescription painkillers a “public health epidemic.” In order to reduce the number of addictions, abuse and deaths that occur from medication prescribed, we must first seek other holistic and alternative treatments.
At Brookhaven Retreat, our motto is “more skills, less pills.” Women in treatment first explore nondrug alternatives such as lifestyle adjustments, behavioral therapy and complete nutritional balance. If medication is necessary, women are monitored closely by a team of psychiatrists and nurses, as well as, thoroughly educated on the safest and most effective ways to take their medication without compromising their health and wellness.
Because substance abuse and mental health issues are closely connected, Brookhaven Retreat is a dual diagnosis facility that offers a fully equipped medical detox program. This close care quarters allows for any medical needs to addressed both safely and efficiently so that women can become physically healthy in order to better focus on healing from any emotional breakage and mental health issues.
As prescription drug abuse is on the rise, women are turning more to self-medication in an effort to numb their emotional pain. Depression, anxiety, mood disorders and other mental health issues increase the risk of addiction, complicate recovery and interfere with living a healthy, satisfying life.