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Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse begins with a person taking higher doses of prescribed medication to get a euphoric effect. In addition, those taking prescription medication without a prescription from a medical professional for purposes other than medical is misuse and the basis for abuse. Prescription drug abuse can become a compulsive, ongoing addiction quickly. Despite the negative consequences of this form of drug abuse, users are physically and mentally bound to the drug.

Early Detection of Prescription Drug Abuse

Early detection of prescription drug abuse is possible through awareness and education. Likewise, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that roughly 14.3 million people have abused prescription drugs in the past 12 months (2019) over the age of 12. With these numbers being so high, recognizing the signs and symptoms can prevent chronic addiction and the increased possibility of fatal overdose. Moreover, the younger population is becoming addicted at higher rates, so parents need to be aware of what their behaviors are showing. 

Recognizing Prescription Drug Abuse

Unintentional prescription drug abuse begins with innocently taking a pain reliever from a friend for something as little as a headache or injury. In addition, those who are prescribed pain medication may take more than the prescribed dose when chronic pain is intense. However, young people often begin unintentional prescription drug abuse with anti-anxiety medications, such as Xanax, or stimulants like Adderall.

Opioids, benzos, and stimulants (like cocaine) are the most commonly abused prescription medications. Finally, watching for signs and symptoms can identify misuse and abuse, whether intentional or unintentional. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse is vital to intervening before chronic addiction or overdose can occur. Prescription drug abuse can occur at a very young age. Therefore, parents need to educate themselves for the sake of their children.

In addition, those affected with chronic pain, a mental health disorder, or other physical illnesses requiring prescription medication to treat need to be aware of how quickly they could abuse their drug. Finally, it is vital to realize it is never okay for someone to give medication prescribed to them to another person for any reason. 

Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse

Young adult or teenage warning signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse or misuse can begin with any of the following behaviors:

  • Locked bedroom door
  • Secretive phone calls
  • Absent from home for more extended periods
  • A distinct change in the parent-child relationship 
  • Change in relationships with friends and extended family
  • The presence of over-the-counter medications for red eyes or nasal irritation

Signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse in adults can be any of the following:

  • After symptoms are gone, continue the use of the prescription medication 
  • To receive additional prescriptions, provide vague symptoms
  • No interest in alternative treatment options
  • Mood and behavior changes
  • Secretive or deceitful behavior to obtain additional prescriptions
  • Using prescriptions pills prescribed to others
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms similar to the flu
  • Developing a high tolerance to get the desired effect
  • Withdrawal or isolation from family and friends
  • History of drug or alcohol addiction
  • Poor cognitive functioning
  • Doctor shopping

Physicians can help to stop prescription drug abuse by monitoring the patients they see. But unfortunately, those abusing prescription medications have reduced clarity in thinking and believe no one will recognize their attempts to get additional medicines.

So if one accompanies a loved one for various doctor appointments and are concerned that doctor shopping is happening, speak up. Physicians can ask their patients about all drugs they consume. If a problem exists, a physician can assist in setting goals for recovery from prescription drug abuse. 

Specific Prescription Drugs and Their Warning Signs

Prescription drug abuse has many similarities between the drug types but just as many differences in their effects. Therefore, deciding what prescription drug is in use is essential to recognize its signs and symptoms. In addition, having a straightforward education on the signs and symptoms of drug use could save a life. In conclusion, the following signs and symptoms are related directly to their type of drug. 

Opiates may cause any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Inability to feel pain
  • Drowsiness and confusion
  • Nausea or constipation
  • Constricted pupils or delayed breathing

Benzodiazepines may cause any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Excessive feelings of relaxation 
  • Poor memory and the possibility of slurred speech
  • Dilated pupils, dizziness, and headaches
  • Poor coordination, depression, or suicidal thoughts
  • Aggressiveness
  • Paranoia

Stimulants may result in the following signs and symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Delusions
  • Chest pain and heart palpitations
  • Irregular sleeping patterns

The Stages of Prescription Drug Abuse

Understanding the stages of prescription drug abuse can help one decide if treatment is necessary. Meanwhile, the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse connect to a stage of addiction. Subsequently, recognizing what stage of abuse a loved one is experiencing can help to determine intervention strategies. After that, treatment options can be a consideration. 

  • Stage 1: Non-medical use: recreational component, experimenting, having fun with no medical reason for medication to be present.
  • Stage 2: Misuse: chronic non-medical use, increased dosage leads to tolerance and increased dosage. 
  • Stage 3: Abuse: chronic misuse leads to abuse, and negative behaviors develop with lifestyle and relationships; the warning signs of addiction begin to appear, and dependency begins.
  • Stage 4: Addiction: Physical dependence spirals to psychological dependence, severe adverse consequences in lifestyle and relationships, and cravings develop.

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

Ultimately, the treatment options for prescription drug abuse are similar to most centers that utilize medically monitored detox, medication-assisted treatment, and evidence-based therapies and have a proven track record of success. First, grasping the opportunity quickly when the decision for treatment occurs is vital to forward motivations.

Secondly, assessments, evaluations, physical and mental exams, and the formation of an individualized treatment plan for the person with a substance use disorder is set to meet their goal of sobriety. Finally, detox starts, and trained professionals can assist with the challenging processes. 

Heal Prescription Drug Addiction with Quality Detox

Prescription drug addiction is frustrating for many. First, Tennessee Valley Recovery offers evidence-based therapies in the treatment. Secondly, our friendly and compassionate intake professionals welcome inquiries. Contact us today if you need help understanding treatment options and clarification with so many options. Finally, recovery is essential to Tennessee Valley Recovery; we want you to succeed. 

Contact us today.