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Wyoming Prescription Drug Addiction


The Prevention Management Organization of Wyoming is well aware that Wyoming prescription drug addiction is increasing. They report that prescription drug overdose rates have gone from just 5 in 2004-05 to 116 by 2013. The majority of these overdoses were from prescription opioids, like hydrocodone, which are normally used to relieve pain. That news may be bad in and of itself, but it’s also widely known that abuse of prescription opioids will eventually lead a user to seek out heroin as a cheap substitute because it is the same class of drug, an opiate. Trust for America’s Health agrees that there is still much to do to stem the tide of Wyoming prescription drug addiction, since they scored only 4 out of 10 on their policy report card. The major concern is still prescription painkillers. While Wyoming did not make the top 10, it was 15th in the nation for highest overdose mortality rates and most of those were due to prescription drugs. As of 2014, Wyoming now has a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program called WORx to help stop incidences of doctor shopping and excessive prescribing of heavily abused prescription drugs.


Three Classes of Prescription Drugs

Basically, all prescription drugs fall into three categories: opioids, sedatives, and stimulants. Wyoming has the most problems with prescription opioids, in the form of hydrocodone. Opioids are synthetic opiates that are like morphine and heroin in composition. They are typically used for pain relief. Sedatives are prescribed for anxiety or panic disorders. They can also help people sleep. Prescription stimulants help children pay attention when they have attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Each class of prescription drug has risks and specific withdrawal symptoms that can be dangerous, so they must be managed by a medical professional. However, since they are widely prescribed medications, they are easy for people to steal from medicine cabinets in the home or to indulge in more than necessary and that is a certain road to addiction.


Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms of Prescription Painkillers

Prescription painkillers go under brand names like OxyContin and Vicodin. They can become more abused over time as drug users discover the euphoric high that these produce. That’s why they are more heavily regulated now and also have been reformulated to be less addictive. They’ve even been moved from Schedule III to Schedule II as they become more subject to abuse. Some of the withdrawal symptoms that occur if someone becomes addicted to prescription painkillers are severe cravings, vomiting, muscle pains, anxiety, chills, and bone pain. 


Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms of Prescription Sedatives

It’s pretty easy to tell when someone has been sedated. They become lethargic and drowsy. This is great if you’re trying to calm down and sleep. However, if they are acting this way at odd hours, they may be abusing prescription sedatives, like Xanax or Librium. They are often prescribed for anxiety or panic attacks. Other brands of sedatives that are prescribed for sleep disorders are Ambien and Lunesta. Withdrawal symptoms for someone abusing prescription sedatives are a return of insomnia or panic and anxiety disorders. A person can become severely depressed and even suicidal. It’s not unusual to hear of symptoms like double vision and nausea as well. 


Effects and Withdrawal Symptoms for Prescription Stimulants

Ritalin is the most common stimulant used for ADHD that is also a target for drug abusers. Adderall is another stimulant that is also popular. People who abuse these drugs say the high is similar to cocaine, which is possible since they are both stimulants. However, the same good rush of feelings users get by abusing prescription stimulants ends up in a boomerang effect when they try to get off of them without medical help. They can end up experiencing panic attacks, have a stroke or seizure, too. That’s why these drugs are supposed to only be taken under medical supervision. 


Wyoming Prescription Drug Addiction Is As Serious As Street Drug Addiction

Prescription drugs have this naive aura of innocence that hard street drugs do not, yet they can both lead to a life of addiction. They are also both treated through detox and rehabilitation of the individual. An individual is no less an “addict” simply because their drug of choice is available through a prescription. They will still fall into many of the same lifestyle choices that other drug addicts make and eventually many of them graduate from prescription painkillers to heroin, since they are both opioids. 


Rehabilitation Is Still Necessary

After a person is weaned off a prescription drug addiction in Wyoming, they will need to undergo rehab to figure out what led them into a life of addiction in the first place. Addiction is a social and biological disease that has many contributing factors. It could be some stressful situation brought upon a reliance to drugs or they were trying to self-medicate for an anxiety or sleep disorder. Either way, their actions will affect everyone around them and need to be addressed through counseling on both an individual and group level. Family counseling is also recommended to see where others may be contributing to the addiction scenario. Cognitive behavioral therapy will provide insight into the triggers that lead a person to seek a solution in drugs and provide them with alternative behaviors to help them avoid getting hooked again. Relapse prevention education can also help them find other solutions to a pending drug temptation that they may not have been able to circumvent in the past. Programs for rehab can last as little as 30 days or as long as 90 days. They can be either in an inpatient setting, where the person is isolated from temptation and supervised continuously for compliance to the program, or an outpatient basis, where they attend addiction meetings without needing to reside on the premises. 


Wyoming prescription drug addiction is a growing concern for everyone, not just law enforcement and health officials. Drug addiction can wreak havoc on families and communities, and just because it is due to a prescription drug does not make the consequences less deadly or severe. If you or someone you know is a victim of Wyoming prescription drug addiction, seek help by contacting an addiction specialist. You will be able to find new ways to approach life that can make it worth living again, without the need for drugs.