The Medicine Trap

She can’t sleep.  Her mind is too busy, bombarding her with thoughts that are going round and round, like a merry-go-round, a bad one.  Counting sheep doesn’t work, reading doesn’t take away the thoughts and there is nothing to watch on TV.

Finally, somewhere during the night she drinks a sleeping pill, tomorrow night she is just going to drink one from the start, she thought as she eventually falls asleep.  She also thought that she must buy a Red Bull or something on the way to work tomorrow and drink an anti-anxiety pill before that meeting. 

It’s ok, the doctor prescribed the sleeping pills for the nights she can’t fall asleep and the anti-anxiety ones for when she feels anxious.  All good, all legal, it helps… 

We go to bed and take a pill to help us relax and switch off.  We go to work with a Red Bull in our hands, we drink that “upper” to wake up, to get through the day.

And then the unthinkable happens…you get stuck in this daily routine of Red Bull, strong coffee and anti-anxiety pills in the mornings and sleeping pills at night.

The trap was set, and you stepped right into it.  You are stuck in The Medicine Trap.

Our world is in the middle of a health crises that took us all by surprise causing us to feel scared, anxious, overwhelmed and very uncertain.   We are also living in a world in which our “normal” days are filled with violence, crime, trauma, stress and burnout from long working hours and a rushed lifestyle.

To cope with all of this, more and more people are relying on prescription drugs to get them through their days.  Experts estimate that more than 18 million people ages 12 and older have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in the previous year. (Prescription Drug Abuse, 2021). 

These include:

  • Opioids used for pain e.g. Oxycodone and Codeine
  • Barbiturates and Benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety e.g. Xanax and Valium
  • Hypnotics used for sleep e.g. Zolpidem
  • Stimulants used to increase alertness and energy levels e.g. Adderall and Ritalin

Misuse of these drugs often lead to addiction; and it can be difficult getting “unstuck”.  Some options that can be looked at to help you to get out of The Medicine Trap:

  • Detox, talk to your doctor about weaning yourself of the medication, don’t attempt to do this alone, especially in severe cases of misuse.
  • Join support groups e.g Narcotics Anonymous.
  • Think about longer-term treatment programs, for example staying in a rehabilitation centre that focus on recovery through counselling and behavioural therapies.
  • Surround yourself with people that are supportive and positive.
  • Focus on positive change, to get out of the trap, the environment that led to you becoming stuck need to change, otherwise you will keep on getting stuck.

REFERENCE: WebMD. 2021. Prescription Drug Abuse. [online] Available at: <https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/addiction/abuse-of-prescription-drugs> [Accessed 15 July 2021].