Inpatient Treatment for Legal Drugs Part I: Substances of Abuse

It may surprise many people to learn that drug users frequently check themselves into emergency rooms and inpatient treatment for the abuse of legal substances. While most people associate the word “addict” with “street drugs” such as cocaine and heroin, prescription and over-the-counter medications can be just as habit-forming. Addiction to legal drugs is especially common among younger people, and the Center for Disease Control has reported that one in five high school students abuse them. In order to prevent higher rates of addiction and overdose, it is crucial that more Americans understand the dangers of the most commonly abused legal drugs.


People often fail to realize that alcohol – while legal – is one of the most addictive and dangerous drugs used today. Most can handle it in moderation, but it still destroys the lives of thousands of alcoholics every year. In fact, there are entire inpatient treatment centers dedicated to helping people with their drinking problems. Age laws technically restrict teens from drinking, but alcoholism is even a problem among people under twenty-one.

Prescription Opiates

Heroin is an opiate which is constantly vilified – and for good reason. However, plenty of other opiates are completely legal with the right prescriptions. Oxycontin, Vicodin, Codeine and others are frequently abused by those who get them from their doctors and pharmacists. Due to fraudulent prescriptions, trading, and drug sharing, these substances also end up on the illicit market in droves. Although most prescription drug addicts don’t subject themselves to the dangers of injection and needle-sharing, these opiates can be every bit as addictive as heroin.

ADHD Drugs

People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder – or ADHD – often use powerful amphetamines such as Ritalin and Adderall. For users with legitimate concentration problems, these drugs can encourage calmer and more focused mental states. However, students without ADHD often abuse them when studying. Amphetamines can cause loss of appetite, rapid heartbeats, and manic episodes. When used frequently and in large enough doses, they can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms.

Cough Medicines

Most cough syrups contain a chemical called dextromethorphan, usually referred to as DXM. In small doses around twenty to thirty milligrams, DXM is a safe cough suppressant. However, teenagers will often drink massive amounts in excess of an entire gram. In these quantities, DXM is a powerful hallucinogen which can produce effects similar to those of ketamine and PCP. Although some pharmacies have begun to carry their cough and cold medicines behind the counter, young people still abuse them with alarming frequency.


Soma is a prescription muscle relaxant which can be useful for people with certain disorders. However, its effects on the nervous system make it extremely addictive for those who abuse it. People use soma recreationally for its sedative effects, and they often report feelings of drowsiness, well-being, and euphoria. Doctors typically recommend that even properly-prescribed patients take it for only two to three weeks at a time – yet addicts often abuse it for far longer.


People don’t often check themselves into inpatient treatment specifically for antidepressant problems, but these drugs can still be powerfully habit-forming. In fact, there has been a great deal of controversy over the possible inclusion of warning labels on Prozac, Zoloft, and other medications which influence the brain’s serotonin levels. While these drugs can certainly helped depression patients feel better, a large majority of users report withdrawal symptoms when they quit. Like many other mind-altering medications, antidepressants are also abused by people who don’t even have prescriptions.

No matter what type of drug you’re struggling with, there is a rehab program that can help you make a lasting recovery. Call the number above to speak with one of our dedicated addiction counselors. We’re standing by day and night to get you started on an inpatient treatment plan that will have you back on your feet, enjoying the life you deserve.

There isn’t much standing between you and help.
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