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Wisconsin Prescription Drug Addiction


The pharmaceutical industry has developed a wide variety of drugs to treat medical conditions. However, some of these drugs can be highly addictive and can cause untold damage to individuals and people around them. Addiction to prescription drugs has become a growing problem that requires professional treatment to allow individuals to regain control over their drug use and resume productive lives. Several treatment facilities are available to help individuals with Wisconsin prescription drug addiction.


What Is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Prescription drugs are widely prescribed by physicians for many medical problems. However, sometimes these drugs are diverted from their intended use and are sold for profit to those who abuse them to achieve a high. Wisconsin prescription drug addiction can occur quickly, and individuals lose control over how much or how often they use the drug. At this point, drug seeking and using becomes the main focus of their thoughts and activities, often leading to broken relationships, legal problems and risks to their health. Some patients inadvertently become addicted when they become accustomed to the pleasurable feelings provided by the drugs.


How Does Addiction Develop?

In many cases, patients become addicted accidentally by using more of the drug than the amount recommended by the physician. In other cases, recreational use to relax and get high becomes addiction. Repeated use of these drugs cause changes in the chemistry of the brain that affect feelings of pleasure and well-being. Experts say that addiction has occurred when certain signs are present:

  • Increasing tolerance – the individual must use increasing amounts of the drug to achieve the same effect.
  • Inability to stop – the individual may be aware they are taking too much, but cannot stop using it.
  • Withdrawal symptoms – the individual may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop.
  • Continued use regardless of negative consequences – the individual may experience job loss, divorce or arrest, but continues to use the substance.


Statistics on Prescription Drug Use in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Department of Health found in its 2014 study that deaths related to benzodiazepine stimulant use doubled between 2005 and 2012. The Appleton, Wisconsin Post Crescent News reported that between 297 to 329 people died from prescription opioid use in the years between 2006 and 2012. In 2012, drug-related hospitalizations cost the state $317 million. Treatment for prescription drug addiction in Wisconsin is critical to preventing these deaths and for maintaining the productivity of the residents of the state.


Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Several different categories of prescription drugs are among those that are commonly abused. Although these medications have legitimate uses for medical treatment, they can also find their way into the hands of those who used them to experience feelings of euphoria and energy. In many cases, the drugs are diverted from their original, intended use and sold on the street.



Opiates belong to a class of drugs that are commonly used to relieve pain from medical problems. They may be prescribed after surgery or during cancer treatment to reduce discomfort. When taken as prescribed these drugs are highly effective, but when taken more frequently than directed or in higher amounts than directed, the individual can become addicted. These drugs include commonly prescribed medications such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet and others. The federal government has designated these medications as Schedule II drugs with a strong potential for addiction. Individuals who are addicted to these drugs may “doctor shop” to get more medications or steal prescription pads to write their own prescriptions. Signs of addiction include drowsiness, slurred speech, confusion, poor concentration, withdrawal from social interaction and constant use of the substance. Opiates affect the central nervous system, which controls breathing. Overdose can stop breathing entirely and cause death.



Prescription sedative drugs are useful for a variety of anxiety conditions and sleep disorders. Individuals are usually prescribed these medications for a short period of time while other therapies are used. However, some patients become addicted to these powerful drugs and may continue drug seeking after their recommended use. Drugs in this category include Xanax, Valium, Ativan and Ambien. These drugs have been designated Schedule IV with some potential for addiction. Individuals who are addicted have dilated pupils, slurred speech, sluggishness and disorientation. These drugs can slow heart rate and breathing and can lead to death from overdose.



Prescription stimulant medications are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, narcolepsy and obesity. These drugs are often used by young people to maintain concentration and alertness for academic study and testing. However, occasional use can turn into dependence on their effects, which increases dopamine in the brain. These drugs are often diverted from their intended patients and sold for casual use. Examples of stimulant drugs include Adderall, Ritalin and Dexedrine. The federal government has designated these medications as Schedule IIN drugs with some potential for addiction. Signs of prescription stimulant addiction include hyperactivity, loss of appetite, weight loss, increased body temperature and euphoria. Overdose can lead to stroke or heart attack.


Treatments for Wisconsin Prescription Drug Addiction

Treatment for Wisconsin prescription drug addiction can depend on the type of medication. A variety of therapies can help patients to deal with emotional issues that underlie substance abuse, as well as to help them deal with cravings that can cause relapse:

  • Opioid addiction treatment – Treatment for opioid addiction begins with detoxification, which can produce severe withdrawal symptoms of muscle pain, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and seizure. Inpatient treatment can offer medical support to reduce severe reactions. After detox, individual and group counseling can help individuals understand their motivations for drug use and develop new behaviors for dealing with cravings that can lead to relapse. Support group meetings and 12-step programs can assist patients as they return to normal life.
  • Sedative addiction treatment – Detoxification causes withdrawal symptoms of anxiety, tremors, insomnia, nightmares, rapid breathing and heartbeat, blood pressures fluctuations and seizures. Treatment facilities can provide medical support and 24/7 monitoring to ensure safety during withdrawal. Counseling on both an individual and group basis helps patients understand the reasons they depend on sedatives and how to develop better methods of coping with anxiety and stress. Relapse prevention techniques help to prevent a return to sedative use. Referrals to community agencies for counseling and support group meetings provide assistance for patients when the treatment program has been completed.
  • Stimulant addiction treatment – Individuals must detox from stimulant drugs, which can cause fatigue, depression, headaches, mood swings, sleep problems and strong cravings. With counseling, patients begin to understand themselves and their reasons for abusing the substance. Motivational incentive therapy uses a reward system for helping patients use positive actions to increase their effectiveness. Support group meetings after treatment can help these patients maintain abstinence and rebuild their lives without stimulant use.

Prescription drug dependence can devastate individuals’ lives, but you don’t have to fight this problem alone. Contact and addiction specialist today to discuss therapies that can help combat Wisconsin prescription drug addiction, so you can reclaim a happy and productive life.