Take a look around your house- do you have any addicting drugs?

Most of you will say no, but have you checked in your medicine cabinet? When you think of addiction, drugs like cocaine, meth or alcohol immediately come to mind. But prescription drug abuse is huge.

Prescription drug abuse is so scary because it often does not start out with abuse. You start taking a medication for a legitimate reason, whether it is a bad surgery, etc. And then you find you need them.

A woman we’ll call Susan fell into the same trap. After a knee surgery, she was prescribed Vicodin, a powerful pain reliever only available by prescription. The Vicodin takes away the pain, but also gave her a “floating” feeling. It relieved her and made her feel light.

Once her pills were gone, she craved that light feeling. She would continually go back to her doctor to ask for more pills, complaining about her knee pain. But that prescription only lasted for a few weeks and she began doctor hopping. She would visit different doctors, 24-hour pharmacies and urgent care clinics repeatedly and get new pain pill prescriptions. Quickly, the Vicodin turned into Ocycontin, which is similar to heroin. Her pattern of popping pills just to get through the day halted when one doctor flipped the tables and called her out on visiting other doctors. Her pill supply was cut off.

Getting off of prescription drugs is like getting off of any other addicting drug, Susan needed rehab to safely detoxify her system. She had become so dependent on these pills to even manage her day to day life, she could not handle the withdrawals.

Seems pretty outrageous, right? But it is becoming a more common problem than you think. More than 7.4 million women in the United States are abusing prescription medications. And often it is not hard to see why.

Women are under extreme pressures these days to be successful businesswomen and the perfect mother and adoring wife. This means being 5 places at once, juggling corporate presentations and daycare with dinner parties and ideal family outings. The pressure for women to be perfect is strong, and many women can’t handle the pressure.

One prescription drug that is commonly abused is Aderall. This drug is often prescribed to young children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). Women who want to focus and feel clarity might sneak a couple from their child’s stash to help them clean the house in a jiff or focus on a project.

But prescription drug abuse is not just about being completely addicted. Drug abuse also encompasses not using your pills as directed or for whom they are prescribed. Pill sharing has become increasingly popular. I complained the other week about feeling anxious about a meeting and a co-worked offered me a Valium. Even sharing one little pill is prescription drug abuse and can lead to bigger problems.

If you or someone you love are having problems with prescription drugs, go to drugabuse.gov for help.

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