Should I Lock Up My Prescription Drugs When My Loved One Comes Home?
The short answer: Yes. To ensure a trigger-free environment when your loved one returns, lock up your prescription drugs when your loved one comes home. This is our advice. But, to be perfectly honest, the decision is really up to you.
Whether your loved one is coming back home after spending time in a treatment program for their addiction, or whether they’re coming for a holiday visit while still plagued by their addiction, those prescription drugs might be a trigger that they can’t resist.
Certainly, you don’t want to leave prescription drugs sitting out on a counter, but even in a medicine cabinet, those medications could be too tempting for your loved one to ignore. Provide the supportive environment that your loved one needs by removing triggers such as prescription drugs. This will help them feel safe and know that you respect the difficult journey they’re on.
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30% of ER admissions are from prescription pill abuse of opiate-based substances.
Developing an Addiction from Legal Prescription Drugs
Addictions to prescription drugs typically begin in the most innocent fashion. You’ve suffered an injury, and you’re in pain. Your doctor prescribes a legal painkiller. Of course, you trust your doctor. But before you know it, you find yourself dependent on the medication to get through your day. Suddenly, you find yourself willing to do anything to get more of that legal drug.
Whether this series of events describes you or your loved one, you can see how easy it is to become addicted to certain legal drugs. Whether it begins with a painkiller intended for use only over the short term, treatment for narcolepsy, or medication to control ADD or ADHD, legal prescriptions can become the gateway to addiction.
While society may look more kindly on addiction to legal drugs, in reality, these addictions are just as destructive as addictions to well-known illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin. In fact, many of the legal opioids prescribe to deal with pain are chemically related to heroin.
It’s not surprising, then, that your loved one might turn to heroin when they can no longer get refills of the prescribed medication they were relying on.
Types of Prescription Pills That Could Trigger a Relapse
Prescription pills can pose a real danger to your loved one, whether they were originally prescribed for someone else or even if your loved one was the intended patient. Many prescription pills, especially painkillers, produce a sort of euphoria or high when ingested, and that can result in the desire or chemical need to keep experiencing that feeling.
In addition to painkillers, pills prescribed for narcolepsy, which include amphetamines that are chemically similar to cocaine, can produce an addictive high. Ritalin and Adderall, which are prescribed to treat symptoms of ADD and ADHD, also have a cocaine-like effect, but can trigger psychotic episodes when misused. Among other commonly abused prescription drugs are antidepressants and painkillers.
While antidepressant medications vary in terms of their potential for addiction, many people become greatly dependent on them, and withdrawal symptoms can mirror those for drugs that pose chemical addiction risks. Antidepressants affect the way the brain works, changing the chemical balance in the brain to change the user’s mood.
Among the most popular antidepressants prone to misuse and addiction are:
- SSRIs (selective serononin reuptake inhibitors) including Prozac, Paxil, Celexa and Zoloft
- MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), such as Manerix or Nardil
- SRNIs (serotonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors), including Cymbalta and Effexor
- Tricyclics like Norpramin and Tofranil
- NDRIs (norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors), including Wellbutrin and Zyban
Painkillers & Opiate Prescriptions
Addiction to prescription opioids, or painkillers, are becoming a public health crisis, so if your loved one is addicted to these powerful medications, they’re not alone. These drugs can become addictive even when taken as prescribed. If your loved one enjoys the way these painkillers make them feel, they may very well end up taking more than they need and thus become addicted.
Among the most popular — and most dangerously addictive — painkillers are:
- Vicodin: also known as Norco or hydrocodone. This opioid is highly addictive and causes serious withdrawal symptoms.
- OxyContin: also known as oxycodone. As a time-release painkiller, it’s helpful to those recovering from surgery or injury, but produces a high when injected or snorted and can lead to overdose easily.
- Demerol: This addictive drug inhibits pain receptors in the brain and produces serious withdrawal symptoms.
- Percocet: Dangerously addictive, this painkiller should only be used for short-term relief and can cause heart failure over time.
Before your loved one comes to join you in your home, take a careful look to make sure you don’t have old, unused partial prescriptions of these addictive drugs in your medicine cabinet or elsewhere in your home.
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What Are Some Common Substance Abuse Triggers?
A trigger is anything that makes an addict want to indulge in addictive behavior. Emotional, social and environmental triggers can make nudge those who are trying to beat addictive behaviors to slip up.
Triggers can take the form of locations, smells, emotional moods, specific people, and generalized stress. Environmental triggers, such as going to locations where addictive substances were used or visiting certain neighborhoods, can provoke memories of substance abuse. Social triggers often take the form of contact with people who encourage substance abuse.
Emotional triggers, which can be tied to mental health disorders, can be especially difficult to control. Availability of prescription drugs can act as a trigger to your loved one coming home to you. Reducing exposure to triggers during recovery is key to successful recovery.
Setting Healthy Boundaries for Success & Better Relationships
One of the key things you can do to make your loved one’s return home successful is to set healthy boundaries. By setting boundaries, you establish a framework that allows you to help your loved one without compromising your own values, personality, or freedom.
Begin setting boundaries by establishing what behaviors you consider unacceptable. These might include rudeness, chronic tardiness, or emotional and physical abuse. They certainly include continued drug use, including prowling through your medicine cabinet looking for drugs.
Once you’ve established boundaries, determine the consequences for crossing those boundaries. You might refuse to communicate with your loved one if they cross boundaries and engage in unacceptable behavior. You might even have to ask them to leave your home. Make sure that everyone involved understands both the boundaries and the consequences attached to them. Yes, it’s painful at times to enforce healthy boundaries, but it’s necessary for your own ability to cope and for the protection of the other members of your family.
Learning to Establish & Respect Boundaries is Important After Treatment
Fellowships in Recovery and the Impact of Sober Communities
One of the best ways to maintain the skills learned during rehab is to join a fellowship or sober community that provides the encouragement and support needed to stay away from drugs.
If your loved one is coming home to you from inpatient treatment but still is having a tough time dealing with the triggers that sometimes seem to be everywhere, a sober living environment can be an excellent option. In this kind of environment, addicted individuals are in a safe place as they rebuild their relationships, careers, and lives. Trained staff and other recovering peers are there to stand beside your loved one and help them get off on the right foot.
A Better Today Recovery Services is more than happy to help you find the right sober living environment for your loved one. We work hard to connect your loved one with the level of accountability they need and the environment that will best help them to thrive. Reach out today to see how we can best help your loved one and your entire family find the support and help to live a healthy life.
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Reputable Resources that Answer Your Questions
When it comes to seeking substance abuse treatment, the research you do will directly impact you or your loved one’s future. ABTRS feels it is important that the sources you get your information from should be with you or your loved one’s best interest in mind and unbiased.
Treatment for an addiction is life changing and without reputable sources to point us in the right direction, it can be discouraging navigating treatment options and insurance eligibility. To empower you with the knowledge needed to leave active addiction behind, we provide our sources we used to make our webpages, printed material, and statistics. Our reputable sources might be a dry read, but it is worth it when it comes to your future.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Decisions in Recovery: Medications for Opioid Use Disorder. [Electroni Decision Support Tool] (HHS Pub No. SMA-16-4993), 2016. Available from http://www.samhsa.gov/brss-tacs/shared-decision-making
Walwyn, W. M., Miotto, K. A., & Evans, C. J. (2010). Opioid pharmaceuticals and addiction: the issues, and research directions seeking solutions. Drug and alcohol dependence, 108(3), 156-65.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). CDC VitalSigns – Prescription Painkiller Overdoses in the US. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/painkilleroverdoses/ [Accessed 20 Feb. 2019].