According to NYU Langone Medical Center, prescription drug addiction affects thousands of individuals across the country. Some have found themselves addicted following a legitimate need for the medications that they are prescribed while others find themselves addicted as a direct result of taking these medications for reasons other than prescribed or when they never were prescribed. Regardless of how addiction occurs, the symptoms of prescription drug abuse are often easy to spot.
While prescription medications contribute to the health of the individuals who use them as prescribed, they also have the potential to cause serious side effects when they are misprescribed, taken against prescribed recommendations or taken when they weren’t prescribed at all. According to the Texas Division of Student Affairs, “prescription drugs are the second most commonly abused category of drugs, behind marijuana and ahead of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs.”
Recognizing the Symptoms of Prescription Abuse
You may not realize it, but early detection of the potential symptoms of prescription drug abuse can help you know when someone you love needs professional help. Studies show that individuals take prescription drugs in an abusive manner for many different reasons including:
- To stay awake while studying for a test or exam.
- To have fun or extend a night out partying.
- To relieve depression, anxiety or another mood.
- To alleviate symptoms of pain.
- To lose weight.
- To counteract the withdrawal symptoms of other effects of some other illicit or controlled substances.
- To treat underlying health conditions outside the recommendations of a doctor.
Symptoms of prescription drug abuse can include:
- Taking more of a prescription medication that is prescribed.
- Taking a dose of medication more often than prescribed.
- Taking prescription medications when they haven’t been prescribed.
- Taking the prescription medications of a friend, family member, coworker, loved one or someone else.
- Taking prescription medications for any reason other than prescribed such as because you feel like getting high, because you feel better when you take the medication or because you simply want to see what happens when you take the medication.
- Taking prescription medications when a doctor has told you not to.
- Taking prescription medications as part of an unsupervised weight loss regimen.
- Taking prescription medications to treat your mood.
How can you tell if you someone is taking a prescription medication in an abusive manner?
You may first notice signs of prescription drug abuse such as missing medication from the medicine cabinet or a continued “need” for more medication before the next scheduled refill date. Individuals who abuse drugs will often exhibit signs of depression, anxiety, changed behavior, or changed mood. Appearances may change as the individual becomes more consumed with his or her drug us and less concerned with things like showering, changing clothes or otherwise taking care of his or her appearance.
Here are some quick ways to spot a problem in someone you care about, pay close attention, if you notice the following signs, there could be a prescription drug abuse problem:
- Missing medication.
- Need for medication prior to refill date.
- Medication is “lost”
- Medication consistently runs out or doesn’t work or isn’t as effective as before.
- Doctor shopping for more than one healthcare provider to prescribe a medication.
- Going to more than one pharmacy in an attempt to fill medications.
- Stealing money to purchase medication.
- Telling lies about medical conditions in order to obtain medication.
- Resorting to other methods of obtaining medication such as purchasing from other users on the streets.
- Acting high or otherwise incoherent.
- Acting reserved or otherwise not being involved with family or friends.
- Changes in mood.
- Changes in behavior, acting out or lashing out at loved ones.
- Feeling sick or otherwise uncomfortable when drugs are not available.
If you or someone you love is abusing prescription medications, seeking help can change your life. While addiction may be difficult to cope with and equally difficult to control, your decision to seek treatment during your time of need could be life changing. Don’t let addiction to drugs rule your life and ruin you. Call our helpline toll free at 1-800-552-0697 to get immediate placement into a counseling or therapy program that will assist you in making the positive change necessary to live drug free.