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Prescription Pill Addiction
By Tina Calabrese, LCSW-R

American life over the past decade has not been easy at times. We have had to deal with terror alerts, changes in climate, recession, lost homes and jobs and unrest in the world surrounding us. Anxiety has been on the rise. As the director of a mental health center I can tell you that nervousness, worry, panic and emotionally related medical ailments have been on the rise. Our collective state of mind has not been the same since 9/11/01. This in combination with the medical profession over helping or over treating perhaps in reaction to the psychological stress of their patients has created a severe rise in prescription drug addiction.

This addiction is similar to alcoholism or narcotic addiction in that the body develops a physical tolerance, there are withdrawal symptoms if the person once addicted doesn’t have the drug and there is a psychological and emotional dependence on the drug.

The other day (February 2, 2012) I was driving to work along Sunrise highway and decided to go off onto the service road to stop at a store. I was off the exit only a few minutes when I heard a terrible sound like metal crashing. I looked over and a small size car was flipped over and moving across sunrise highway upside down. Another care swerved to avoid it and crashed next to me and a truck crashed on the other side. If I had not gotten off I might have been in that crash. I pulled over shaken and called 911. It was 9:30 am. The next day in Newsday, it was noted that the driver of that crash was high on pills. He was alive, but with head and neck injuries.

Unlike driving while intoxicated crashes (that mostly happen at night after hours), now we never know when drivers will be high on pills. Obviously, this driver took his pills, and too much of them that morning. There are a couple of ideas I have to help everyone deal with this problem. Here are a few:

If you suspect a friend or family member is addicted to their prescription pills CONFRONT them and even consider calling their doctor that prescribes the pills to inform.

Be aware of medical professionals who give addicts addictive pills and who are too quick to give out pills that are addictive especially when treating mental health related illnesses.

Research and seek out holistic medicine which includes counseling, meditation and good nutrition for anxiety and panic rather than an over reliance on pills.

Take medication when needed and utilize the best of medical care not the worst.

Know your body and mind. Know what helps and what does not help.

Substance addiction is insidious and sneaky. Roz Block, Diane Tabak, Roz Balaban and myself have all worked in the alcoholism and substance addiction field for over twenty years. We have seen the fads, the fade aways and the reoccurrences of certain drugs. Today I different. It may because pills were not advertised in the past as they are now. Doctors weren’t given incentives, the quick fix syndrome was never as supported as it is today in our nano second tech world and anxiety didn’t seem as widespread.

The best approach to keep your risk of prescription pill addiction low is to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Good, clean and fresh food along with exercise is best for your body.

Mental health check ups, counseling when needed and meditation is best for your mind.

Living a lifestyle that makes you feel good about yourself, gives you a sense of purpose and joy is best for your spirit.  ■

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