Often Drugs Work Too Well

Image by Peter Vercoelen

You’ve told your doctor you are anxious or in pain. You got a prescription for Atavan, Klonopin, Valium, or Xanax, if it was anxiety; if it was pain, you might’ve gotten a script for a narcotic like Percoset, Vicodin, Oxicotin, or Morphine. These will certainly take away your anxiety or pain; fast. If you use them sparingly, or intensively for a limited period of time, they can be wonderful. If you use them too long, they can cause more problems than they solve.

There are drugs that work right away to make you feel better and others that take time to raise blood levels. The type that slowly raises blood levels never results in addiction. Anti-depressants are like that, you get the side effects first and the desired effects don’t come for two to three weeks, if they come at all. That kind of drug may make you feel better, but not right away, and you can safely take them for an extended period of time.

The drugs that make you feel better right away by removing anxiety or pain can cause real problems if you rely on them too much and for too long. The first sign of trouble is increased tolerance, needing a larger dose of the drug to achieve the same effect. The body, in its wisdom, is building up defenses against the drug.

Why would your body do such a thing? Why won’t it just let you be free of anxiety and pain? Why does your body have to torture you like that?

It’s necessary to have some anxiety and pain for the body to function properly. They are signals that there is danger or something is wrong. Without anxiety, you wouldn’t look both ways when crossing the street. Without pain, you would walk on a broken ankle and injure it more. Anxiety and pain are too valuable to do without.

This is why the body will develop tolerance for the drugs that immediately take away anxiety and pain. If you fail to listen to the body and go on taking more anyway, then you begin to show the second sign of addiction, withdrawal. In withdrawal, whatever anxiety and pain you took away with the drug, comes back, doubled, making up for lost time. This makes you use the drug even more, to avoid withdrawal.

The third way that these drugs get you is by working too well. They do such a good job of taking away anxiety and pain, short term, that you don’t develop ways to cope with them yourself. We can learn to cope with anxiety and pain without drugs; there are skills, if you learn to use them. If you don’t need to use them, you never learn.

If your doctor has prescribed drugs for anxiety or pain, it’s definitely OK to take them for a few weeks if needed, if you have no history of addiction. If you have a history of addiction, then you should tell your doctor so that the risks and benefits of taking them can be accurately considered.

How long is too long for these drugs? When you begin to show tolerance, when the initial dose is no longer enough, it’s already been too long. You should be making plans to stop them before bigger problems develop. Problems such as withdrawal, and not learning how to cope without the drug.

You, have a remarkable ability to learn to cope without drugs. If you tried it without drugs, you would know it.

Published by Keith R Wilson

I'm a licensed mental health counselor and certified alcohol and substance abuse counselor in private practice with more than 30 years experience. My newest book is The Road to Reconciliation: A Comprehensive Guide to Peace When Relationships Go Bad. I recently published a workbook connected to it titled, How to Make an Apology You’ll Never Have to Make Again. I also have another self help book, Constructive Conflict: Building Something Good Out of All Those Arguments. I’ve also published two novels, a satire of the mental health field: Fate’s Janitors: Mopping Up Madness at a Mental Health Clinic, and Intersections , which takes readers on a road trip with a suicidal therapist. If you prefer your reading in easily digestible bits, with or without with pictures, I have created a Twitter account @theshrinkslinks. MyFacebook page is called Keith R Wilson – Author.

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