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Nevada Prescription Drug Addiction

Nevada prescription drug addiction is at epidemic levels. Prescription drug abuse constitutes the non-medical use or misuse of prescribed medications. An addiction will often manifest from extended use of painkillers, as this will quickly lead to dependence and addiction. The misuse of prescription medication begins with patients taking increasingly larger doses of their medication on a more frequent basis. The non-medical use of medication presents the biggest problem with Nevada prescription drug addiction which is defined as the illegal use of prescribed medications without a prescription.

Statistics of Prescription Drug Abuse and Addiction in Nevada

  • In Nevada, 30,000 individuals (aged 18-25) reported non-medical use of prescription pain relieving drugs in 2013.  SAMSHA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, reported these statistics for the state of Nevada. The statistics are based on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
  • Data from the Office of Vital Statistics in Nevada reported in 2012 that in the three years prior to the report, 2,082 people died from prescription drug overdoses in Nevada. The majority of which were men (58%).
  • 80% of emergency room visits for prescription drug overdoses are due to abuse of analgesics (pain relievers) or psychotropics (anti-depressants). This report came from the Nevada Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services, Department of Health and Human Services.
  • In Nevada, Of the 9,605 adults (aged 19 and older) admitted for substance abuse treatment at a SAPTA funded treatment program in 2011, 13% were treated for addiction to prescription opiates or synthetic opiates, such as meperidine or fentanyl. This information was reported by the Nevada Division of Mental Health and Developmental Services, Department of Health and Human Services.

Prescription drugs negatively impact brain function by promoting chemical changes within the reward center of the brain. Normal endorphin production becomes severely suppressed as the effects of the drug cause false stimuli within the brain, signaling it to stop producing endorphins altogether. Natural endorphins are permanently inhibited as the user develops a growing tolerance for the drug. This causes a need for increasing amounts of the drug, at shorter intervals, to balance the system.

Categories of Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are categorized as Schedule II, III, and IV drugs on the schedule of controlled substances. Controlled substances are ranked according to their potential for abuse and any accepted medical use. The exact placement within the schedule is assigned according to the drug’s individual potential for abuse.

Schedule II – Drugs are defined as having an accepted medical use, but with a high risk for abuse that can lead to a severe physical and/or psychological dependence.

»Examples include: Amphetamine, Codeine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone, Hydromorphone, Meperidine, Methamphetamine, Methylphenidate, Morphine, Opium, Oxycodone, and Methadone.

Schedule III – Drugs have a medical purpose and are considered as having a lesser potential for abuse than Schedule II drugs. Abuse of Schedule III drugs may lead to a moderate physical or psychological dependence.

»Examples include: Anabolic steroids, Buprenorphine (suboxone), Benzphetamine, Ketamine, Phendimetrazine, and narcotic drugs containing less than or equal to 90mgs of Codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with Codeine).

Schedule IV – Drugs having an accepted medical use, a relatively low risk for abuse, and a mild potential to cause psychological dependence.

»Examples include: Alprazolam (Xanax), Clonazepam (Klonopin), Diazepam (Valium), Clorazepate, Lorazepam (Ativan), Restoril, Temazepam, and Triazolam among many others.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs


  • OxyContin
  • Percocet
  • Vicodin (hydrocodone and acetaminophen)
  • Oxycodone (Oxycontin)
  • Fentanyl (Sublimaze, Duragesic)
  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Morphine

Physical symptoms of opiate use: Keenly alert and sensitive to sensory stimuli, agitation, constricted blood vessels, abnormal/irregular heartbeat, (HBP) high blood pressure, and loss of appetite.

Psychological and behavioral symptoms of opiate use: Drowsiness, anxiety, euphoria, panic attacks, psychosis, depression, irritability, heightened self-awareness, and a loss of motivation.


  • Valium – benzodiazepine
  • Ambien – zolpidem
  • Xanax – benzodiazepine

Symptoms of sedative/depressant abuse include: Slurred speech, lowered respiration, memory lapses, mood swings, depression, slowed motor skills, malaise, lack of motivation, frustration, and irritability.

Stimulants (Amphetamines)

  • Adderall – dextroamphetamine
  • Ritalin – methylphenidate
  • Dexedrine – dextroamphetamine

Symptoms of prescription stimulant abuse include: loss of appetite, nervousness, weight loss, crashing when effects wear-off, fast or irregular heartbeat, hyper sensitivity, hypervigilance, agitation and irritability, mood swings, sleep deprivation and heightened anxiety.

Identifying The Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

An addiction to prescription drugs may not be readily apparent. The drug abuser or addict will likely hide their use and are often able to function and maintain a normal outward appearance. Prescription drug abuse or dependence will ultimately begin to expose itself through certain behaviors, or signs, in addition to the symptoms that may be hidden.

Some, or all of these signs may be present:

  • Inability to function daily without the drug
  • Lying or stealing in order to obtain the drug
  • Drug-seeking behavior
  • Suspicious absences or behaviors noted as secretive
  • Doctor shopping to get prescriptions
  • Repeated bouts of reported pain
  • Increasing use or dosage
  • Sudden changes noted in behavior or wild mood swings as a result of taking, or not taking, the drug

Nevada prescription drug addiction can develop very quickly and rapidly progress to a life-threatening stage. Very often, those addicted to prescribed medications end up turning to heroin as prescriptions run-out and the street price of the drugs forces addicts to find a cheaper alternative high.

Common symptoms of prescription drug abuse that are noted include profuse sweating, sleeplessness, flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite, and weight loss. Chronic drug use causes severe health risks in addition to the common symptoms readily noted by abuse. The most severe risks to the user’s health include:

  • Seizures
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Respiratory distress
  • Organ failure
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Kidney and liver disease
  • Heart failure
  • Dementia
  • Cancer
  • Overdose
  • Death.

What Does Addiction Treatment Entail?

The main outlets for abuse and addiction treatment include inpatient rehabilitation, outpatient rehabilitation, 12-Step Programs, cognitive behavioral therapy, counseling, group therapy, family counseling, individual psychotherapy, nutrition education, relapse prevention training, and medication therapy.

Please note that medication is sometimes necessary to correct chemical imbalances caused by prescription drug abuse, or is used to manage co-occurring mental disorders:

Opiates – Withdrawal symptoms can be present for up to 18 months. Detox processes are best achieved by slowly tapering the drug from the system over an extended period of time. Patients often participate in drug replacement therapy. Maintenance programs are often conducted on an outpatient basis.

Depressants (Sedatives/hypnotics) – Medical detox procedures are conducted by medical personnel to safely initiate detox and control withdrawal symptoms.

Stimulants – Symptoms of withdrawal are monitored by medical personnel and the patient is offered vitamin therapy, beneficial nutrition, behavioral therapy, and rest. There are no medication options for stimulant withdrawal symptoms.

Find Quality Nevada Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

Call a rehab treatment center if you need help or would like information about the treatment centers in Nevada. You are not alone. Dedicated professionals at drug treatment centers are there to support and guide you to a new life in sobriety.