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Prescription Drug Addiction in Nebraska

Prescription medications are highly useful when applied correctly, and a number of drugs are available to treat medical conditions and help relieve pain. Prescription drugs are easily abused, however, as many people misuse and overuse them for recreational purposes and as a performance enhancer. Prescription drug addiction in Nebraska is a large problem that requires careful evaluation and ongoing treatment, including medical detox, behavioral therapy, and relapse prevention. A majority of prescription drug abuse concerns three classes of drugs: opioids, sedatives, and stimulants. Different treatments are needed for each of these substances, from the early stages of crisis intervention, through to rehab and aftercare. If you know of someone who is dealing with prescription drug addiction in Nebraska, it is important to seek professional help as soon as you can.


How are prescription drugs abused?

Prescription medications are abused when they are taken in a different way other than intended by a doctor or medical professional. People misuse legal medications for two primary reasons, with some people obtaining drugs for recreational purposes and others using them as a performance enhancement tool. Most people who abuse these drugs obtain them freely from friends and family members, whereas other medications come from drug dealers or via the medical system. There are several ways to misuse or overuse prescription medications, such as increasing dosage levels, combining drugs, using drugs meant for someone else, and crushing up pills to snort or inject them. The abuse of prescription medications can be a highly dangerous practice, especially when drugs are combined with alcohol or illicit substances.

Prescription drug abuse statistics in Nebraska

The United States is currently struggling with a prescription drug abuse epidemic, as America consumes 75 percent of the global supply of pharmaceuticals, despite accounting for just 5 percent of the population. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 52 million adult Americans admit to the use of prescription medications in a non-medical way, including almost 9 million people during the past year, and over 6 million people during the past month. Over half of all the abuse cases were related to opioid medications, followed by benzodiazepine, sedatives, and stimulants.

The state of Nebraska is certainly not immune to the prescription drug problem that is going on, with people traveling from all over America to source opioids and other medications. Nebraska is one of only two states that does not have a mandatory prescription monitoring program, which makes it easier for addicts to go “doctor shopping” and obtain multiple prescriptions. While Nebraska has the third lowest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States, according to Trust for America’s Health (TFAH), with 6.7 per 100,000 people, prescription drug abuse is still a major issue that needs to be addressed.




Opioids are the most addictive, and highly abused, class of prescription drugs. While the terms “opioids” and “opiates” are often used interchangeably, these two terms do have slightly different meanings. Opiates include the three primary active compounds from the opium poppy plant: codeine, morphine, and thebaine. Opioids include opiates together, with all drugs synthesized from these substances, including oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone, buprenorphone, and methadone among others. Classes of opioids include, opium alkaloids, esters of morphine, semi-synthetic alkaloids, synthetic alkaloids, and ethers of morphine. Some of these substances are more addictive than others, and medications also differ in regard to their overall availability and propensity for overdose.  

Opioids are some of the most useful and widely prescribed medications in the world. These drugs are regularly prescribed for acute pain, chronic non-cancer pain, shortness of breath, and diarrhea, among other conditions. Opioids are available as single-ingredient and multi-ingredient medications, including the popular acetaminophen/opioid products, Vicodin and OxyContin. People who abuse opioids, are generally attracted to their euphoric properties, and the effects of these drugs are similar to the illegal opioid drug, heroin, but are somewhat less potent. Opioids are highly addictive in nature, with a physical-somatic withdrawal syndrome experienced upon cessation of use. Medical detox is typically applied at the beginning of the treatment process, followed by behavioral therapies and relapse prevention support systems.   



Sedatives are the second most widely abused class of prescription medications in the world, including the brand name benzodiazepine drugs, such as Xanax, Valium, Klonopin, Serax and many more. These drugs are taken medically to treat a number of anxiety-related conditions, including panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder, and many others. Benzodiazepine drugs are also prescribed for insomnia and other sleep disorders, and may be used to treat agitation, seizures, muscle spasms, and alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

These medications are abused for their hypnotic and sedative properties. Some people abuse them for recreational purposes, while others overuse existing psychiatric prescriptions. Similar to opioids, “benzos” are known to produce a physical withdrawal syndrome upon cessation of use, and a medical detox phase is often recommended prior to rehab. In most cases, doctors will treat a sedative dependence by administering a dosage reduction scheme over a period of weeks or months, combined with appropriate psychotherapy support. The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can be dangerous if left untreated, and therefore professional detox and rehab therapy is always recommended.  



Prescription stimulants are administered medically for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These drugs include, but are not limited to, Concerta, Adderall, and Ritalin. People abuse these drugs for recreational purposes and performance enhancement, due to their propensity to enhance energy and mental focus. While stimulant medications are not physically addictive, unlike opioid painkillers or benzodiazepines, they can be psychologically addictive. Treatment for stimulant abuse normally includes a dedicated rehabilitation period, including a range of behavioral and motivational programs. Residential and outpatient rehab are both available, and are typically followed by aftercare support groups and relapse prevention regimes. If you or your loved one is struggling with prescription drug abuse or addiction, it is important to reach out to an accredited treatment center in Nebraska today to find out more information about the options available near you.