Prescription drug addiction is an issue that has plagued Tennessee in recent years, particularly since the early 2000s. Prescription drugs are medications that have been controlled because they’re potentially dangerous and easily misused. This includes the risk of addiction, which can occur with certain prescription drugs. These addictive drugs represent only a small portion of the total amount of prescription drugs available in Tennessee, but their impact is anything but small. Abuse of these drugs has led to a nationwide addiction epidemic that has only grown worse with time. Tennessee prescription drug treatment services have been crucial in giving people a chance to overcome substance abuse and resume a healthy life. Almost anyone can become addicted to prescription drugs. For many, it begins with a trip to the doctor for a physical or mental ailment.
Because the drugs are prescribed by a doctor, the patient may have misguided trust or believe that the medication is safe. Elderly patients or those with communication barriers may even think that they must take all of the medication as directed. But even when prescription instructions are followed, a person can still become addicted to prescription drugs. When this happens, doctors usually shirk the responsibility onto the patient and pass them off to Tennessee prescription drug detoxes.
One cannot simply trust a doctor blindly. Primary care physicians were largely responsible for the overprescribing of Oxycontin, the drug that kickstarted the opioid epidemic and was the catalyst to America’s drug crisis today. Along with pharmaceutical companies whose only aim was to profit, this left many people hooked on powerful opioids with no resources for help. When this drug was finally regulated properly, the damage was already done, and many people were now addicted to opioids. The natural course was then for heroin use to spike since many of these people were left with no recourse and a serious opioid dependence.
When a person first begins using an addictive prescription drug, it may work quite well to address their ailment. But this is an illusion since they don’t handle the cause of the ailment. No addictive drug remedies cause, only effect. Certainly, they have a limited role in controlled settings, but when not monitored, tolerance develops rapidly. Tolerance is a phenomenon of reduced effectiveness of a drug because the body adapts to its presence. Within only a few days of regular use, most people will develop tolerance to addictive prescription drugs. More and more of the drug is needed to produce the same effect that a small dose initially produced. Dependence usually develops concurrently with tolerance. Dependence means that the body needs the drug to function properly. In some cases of severe dependence on certain addictive prescription drugs, the person can die as a consequence of not taking them. While this may sound extreme, it’s a sad truth.
When a person has become dependent on a drug, they will experience withdrawal symptoms when they don’t take it. Their systems will be extremely disrupted due to the imbalance created from the body not receiving the drug it is expecting. The array of ghastly symptoms that can result, known as drug withdrawal, is the primary barrier to people getting help. The process is excruciating at times, if not dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms vary from drug to drug but can include hypertension, pain, insomnia, seizures, and vomiting. Drug cravings accompany withdrawal since the only way to end the symptoms is to take more of the addictive substance or wait several days or even weeks until the body regulates itself.
To help people who cannot endure withdrawal on their own, detox facilities were created. Detox is short for detoxification, meaning to rid the body of toxic substances like prescription drugs. Detox facilities accomplish this in a few ways, depending upon what type of detox they are. Medical detox facilities have the capability of handling the most severe cases of prescription drug withdrawal because they can use prescription medications to treat drug withdrawal. These medications may help prevent seizures, lower blood pressure, and alleviate severe withdrawal symptoms that would otherwise make the process too risky or difficult.
A detox is not a replacement for treatment. Detoxes only focus on helping people through withdrawal but render no other treatment. This prepares a person for treatment by getting them through the worst of the physical components of addiction so they can now focus and learn new skills. When people are experiencing withdrawal symptoms, they are usually too uncomfortable to be able to pay attention to anything other than how they are feeling and the desire to use drugs. This must be overcome before they’ll be able to benefit from treatment and learn skills to prevent them from relapsing. When detox is used as a quick fix for addiction with no treatment, most people relapse almost immediately after being discharged.
When detox is completed, it is time to enter treatment. Many treatment centers have on-site detox facilities to assist with this transition. This way, the person doesn’t even need to leave to building and risk relapsing before starting rehabilitation. When a stand-alone detox facility is used, try to set up treatment before beginning detox. This will give the person one less thing to worry about during the detox process and reduces the chances that they will change their mind about treatment once they are feeling better near the end of the detox.
When choosing a treatment facility, avoid anywhere that doesn’t believe that people can completely recover from addiction. This will be relatively easy to spot since these programs use harm reduction models instead of rehabilitation to lower death rates from drug abuse. They use replacement medications to substitute for the prescription drugs the person was abusing. These medications may be more difficult to overdose on, but the person’s addiction hasn’t been addressed even slightly. Programs like this will tell their patients to stay on these drugs for life and discourage them from ever discontinuing them. That is the opposite of treatment.
A much better fit for people who want to get off addictive drugs is traditional substance abuse treatment. Traditional programs have saved countless lives over the years by utilizing the twelve-step model developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. These were the industry standard before the advent of medication replacement programs, and they still remain a popular choice. Most traditional programs average around a month in length and are inpatient, meaning that the person lives and stays at the facility for the duration of their treatment program.
Another excellent choice for anyone struggling with prescription drug addiction is holistic drug and alcohol rehabilitation. Holistic programs use no narcotics and rely on natural methods for addressing the effects of drug abuse. This can have an extremely beneficial effect of helping the person find new coping skills other than more medications. These programs tend to run longer than other forms of treatment due to their individualized nature, but the investment is usually worth it.
Tennessee Prescription Drug Possession Penalties
It is illegal in Tennessee to possess any prescription drug without a valid medical prescription. The first and second convictions are class A misdemeanors. Penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, as much as one year in jail, or both. All subsequent convictions are considered Class E felonies, incurring a fine of up to $3,000 and between one and six years in prison, or both.
In addition to the above, the person is required to attend a drug offender school, perform community service work at a substance abuse treatment center, or both. They are required to pay for the cost of the school unless the judge deems them unable to pay.
Tennessee Prescription Drug Statistics
In 2018, drug overdose deaths involving opioids totaled 1,307 in Tennessee.
- Deaths involving synthetic opioids other than methadone, which includes prescription opioids like fentanyl, increased from 590 in 2017 to 827 in 2018.
- Deaths from prescription opioids exclusively have declined over the past two years, from 739 deaths in 2016 to 550 in 2018.
In Tennessee, providers wrote 81.8 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons in 2018. This was the third-highest prescribing rate in the country and much higher than the average U.S. rate of 51.4 prescriptions for every 100 persons.
Below, you will find a list of drug detox for Prescribed Medication addiction in Tennessee. The list may be incomplete, so if you have a hard time finding the proper service, call one of our treatment specialists at 1-800-304-2219.