"Who am I without my pill?": escaping a medication trap

  1. Mar 05, 2019

    The situation in Russia is quite unfortunate: a lot of medication is sold without any prescription, and some is even advertised on popular media platforms. As the result, many people “prescribe” themselves certain medications. According to statistics, 84% of Russians go directly to the drug store, without first consulting a doctor. [1]

    Medication is perceived as something undoubtedly benign, as it is a way to help us get healthy again. What danger can there be in some nasal drops anyway?

    Only a few people actually consider the potential side effects of the medication and the fact that some medicines can cause a real addiction.

    If you find it hard to fall asleep without a pill, or you reach for the painkillers at the slightest sign of a headache, you are quite likely to have drug dependence syndrome. Our article will help you find out what causes this addiction, what are its symptoms and how we can get rid of it.


    1. Developing addiction to medication
    2. Types of drug dependence
    3. Signs of drug dependence
    1. Testing for drug dependence

    Getting rid of drug dependence

Developing addiction to medication

The first thing you should know is that there are no safe drugs. Each medication that has a tangible effect also has an impact upon your body, and to some extent changes it. If you take medication sensibly, according to the dosage, then the risk is minimal.

However, if you constantly take medication, then the recommended dosage will stop being effective.

You will then have to take more medication, but the body will adapt to it. It becomes a vicious circle: you need a greater dose, your body adapts faster, and one day the medication just stops having the desired effect. However, by that point the body cannot function properly without the drug. Extreme doses of potent substances can damage the organs and their functionality. Many drugs cause irreversible changes to the bodily functions. The consequences can be severe, in some cases even fatal.

Types of drug dependence

The main danger of the intake of medication is that a person can get addicted to almost any drug if they take it without prescription and exceed the dosage. In Russia, the most common addictions include the following:

  • Painkillers. People often take them to fight headache, and women use them to handle menstrual pain. Instead of searching for the cause, people start “extinguishing” pain with pills. This can lead to addiction, and also can create a disorder that causes the pain to become even worse.
  • Sedatives and sleeping pills. These types of medication affect our psyche, so a state of dependence on such medication can be similar to drug addiction. A person can become unable to function without these pills and begin to feel utterly helpless. Antidepressants have the same effect.
  • Nasal drops. Yes, even such an apparently harmless medication can lead to dependence. People get addicted to the drops very quickly, as they start to think they cannot breathe properly without them. However, vasoconstrictive nasal drops can actually make breathing problems worse. The nasal mucous membrane changes drastically under their effect, it dries quickly and stops performing its functions. [2]
  • Valocordin and corvalol. These types of medication are particularly popular among elderly. In the past they were informed that these were magical drops to “soothe their nerves” and “calm their heart”, so often they take this medication any time they are stressed, even if they don’t have heart problems. However, only few people know that the potent substance in these drops is phenobarbital, which is one of the barbituates. These drugs can severely inhibit nerve system activity and  even induce coma. [3]

Signs of drug dependence

Drug dependence, like any other addiction, can manifest itself on two levels: psychological and physical. Let’s see how people establish the habit for medication abuse.

Psychological addiction

The main preoccupation of people with drug dependence is thinking about taking their pills. A patient may even start panicking if the idea of stopping the intake of their medication crosses their mind. They always check if they have taken their drug, and if they notice they’ve run out of medication, they rush to the pharmacy to restock.

Psychological addiction directly depends on the individual’s mindset. Such people believe that they cannot live their lives and sleep well without their medication. They think that their pain is so strong that only a pill can help and

only that can make them feel better. In essence, it is a learned behavior pattern. At this stage, a person requires qualified help from a psychologist to correct it.

Physical addiction

The first sign at this stage is the reduced effect of the medication, as the body quickly adapts to higher doses. Meanwhile, the condition that the drug was meant to treat manifests itself more often and with more intensity.

In extreme cases, patients with drug dependence experience withdrawal syndrome when they stop taking their medication abruptly. A person’s health declines. Headaches, for example, become increasingly strong after quitting painkillers. Discontinuing  medication causes abstinence symptoms, or simply put, a withdrawal situation much like the one experienced by drug addicts. [4] The faster the medication leaves the body, the stronger are the symptoms. Once drug dependence reaches this stage, a patient requires serious intervention.

Testing for drug dependence

Mark the statements you agree with.

  1. I often take medication.
  2. I have a lot of medical supplies at home, just in case.
  3. Taking a pill is the best way to feel better.
  4. Sometimes I take medication that is classified as a narcotic substance to improve my state.
  5. Only my medication can help me stop worrying about my health.
  6. I always carry some medication with me. I feel anxious if I forget to take it.
  7. If I feel any minor ailment that wasn’t there before, I immediately start looking for medication to help relieve it.
  8. I cannot sleep without a sleeping pill.
  9. I always take a sedative whenever I feel nervous, nothing else helps me calm down.
  10. I don’t want to feel pain, so painkillers are my choice. There is no need to search for the origin of pain.
  11. Valocordin helps to calm my heart.

Test results:

  • if you have agreed with 5 or more statements, you are quite likely to have drug dependence.

Consult a doctor to make sure that instant withdrawal does not do you any harm. Please remember that drug dependence is a learned behavior pattern. You also should work on it with a psychologist.

Getting rid of drug dependence

Refusing to take medication is the first step on your way to treating addiction. This will help your body recover its functions. However, you should only do this under medical supervision. If your dependence has become too established, abstinence syndrome can be life-threatening. Further treatment will depend upon the severity of your addiction. In some cases, when patients suffer from severe withdrawal, they will have to be treated at a hospital.

Medical specialists would be likely to administer a different medication to treat the main disease. A patient must abide by all doctor’s orders and never increase the dosage of their newly prescribed medication.

However, drug dependence is also often supported by a specific mindset, so changing it is an important part of overcoming this addiction. That is where behavior psychology can help.

For example, our 7Spsy technique is recommended. It is a course of behavior modification that can help you to understand the reasons why you are struggling to give up the medication, and help you quit its abuse in a short period of time. The 7Spsy course is taken remotely and lasts 2-6 weeks. It does not affect the process of treating your main disease in any way. By changing your behavior pattern you will learn to live your life to the fullest without any dependency soon enough.

Information from this website cannot be used for self-therapy and self-diagnostics. 

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