prescription drug addiction

How to Identify and Prevent Prescription Drug Addiction

20% of the U.S. population abuses prescription drugs. Unfortunately, that number is on the rise. While more medical professionals are cautious about prescribing these drugs, users are able to get these drugs on the black market.

Identifying a prescription drug addiction isn’t easy. You started taking the medication because of a real ailment and your addiction spiraled out of control. And preventing a prescription drug addiction isn’t easy, either.

Fortunately, our knowledge of prescription drugs abuse is increasing. Think before you take those pills. Here’s how to know if you have a drug abuse problem. If you don’t, here’s how to prevent developing one.

How to Identify a Prescription Drug Addiction: Symptoms to Know

Are you taking prescription medication and aren’t sure if you’re developing an unhealthy habit? Do you see addiction signs in a loved one? Keep these common symptoms in mind.

Isolation

The first symptom of drug addiction is isolation.

Addicts succumb to substances, putting their loved ones, responsibilities, and passions on the backburner. They tend to isolate themselves and show unreliable habits such as breaking promises and canceling on plans.

Prescription drugs such as painkillers make the user delirious. They may end up at their home for hours at a time, letting their life go to waste. Anti-depressants cause intense euphoria that also makes the user unable to leave their home.

Isolation doesn’t only mean the addict is stuck in their home. Addiction to ADHD medication is also a major problem. The addict can attend work and school as usual.

But they’re so absorbed in their work, they will still isolate themselves in their work and lose contact with loved ones.

Increased Tolerance

This is the first sign an addict will notice. When prescribed a medication, the smallest dose causes the biggest impact. Over time, their tolerance increases.

Some doctors increase the dosage but many users increase their dosage without their doctor’s recommendation. This causes the user to create an even stronger tolerance, developing a habit.

Many addicts don’t realize it’s difficult to experience that first “high” again. They will spend all of their money on drugs, trying to achieve that same euphoria.

Your body becomes used to the drug and will need the substances to function. This is why many addicts take the pills to feel normal rather than to feel the euphoria. If you stop taking the drugs, you may start feeling withdrawals.

Experiencing Withdrawals

Since your body isn’t used to functioning without the medication, your body will behave badly if you stop taking the medication. This is called withdrawal.

Common withdrawal symptoms include breathing problems, nausea, lack of coordination, confusion, and constipation.

Withdrawals can be more violent and even deadly with severe addicts.

Identifying Physical Symptoms

There are many common physical symptoms associated with prescription drug abuse. These include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Sleepiness
  • Memory loss
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Problems with motor skills
  • Slow breathing
  • Dizziness

These physical are hard to addicts to identify but they’re easy to notice in a loved one.

Identifying Behavioral Symptoms

Behavioral symptoms are the most difficult to identify. But if you pay attention, you can spot these subtle signs.

If you or a loved one go time without the drugs, it’s common to experience jittery body movements, anxiety, and agitation before the withdrawal symptoms kick in.

Other behavioral symptoms include appetite loss, personality changes, and more aggression.

How to Prevent a Prescription Drug Problem

While preventing a prescription drug problem is difficult, it’s not impossible. Here are some important tips to remember.

Take Your Medication as Prescribed

While this won’t completely prevent addiction, it does help decrease the possibility of developing one.

Your doctor will prescribe a safe dosage and will ween you off of the drug. If you need to increase your dosage, your doctor will only raise it slightly to prevent developing a dangerous tolerance.

Don’t Keep Prescription Drugs in the Home

Almost 10% of 12th graders abused prescription drugs in the past year. Where are they getting the drugs from? Sketchy drug dealers? This is the case for some, but most have access to these drugs in their own home.

If someone in your home is prescribed drug, try and monitor the number of pills you obtain. If you fill your prescription regularly, lock the medication somewhere your teenager can’t find them.

If you only need a one-time prescription, such as pain medication for surgery, and don’t use all of the pills, don’t store them.

Many states offer a prescription drug take-back program, where you give back extra or unused prescription drugs so they’re disposed of accordingly.

If you dispose of them yourself, don’t simply throw the whole pills away. Crush them, mix them with another substance (dirt, coffee grounds, etc.) and place the mixture in a plastic bag.

Don’t Take Prescription Drugs Unless You Need To

Taking prescription drugs is tempting. Your friends told you taking Adderall will help you study for your test. Your friend took a Xanax at a party and you were offered one, too.

You have menstrual cramps and a friend offers you an Oxycodone and not a safer alternative such as Advil.

You may think you need prescription drugs. But there’s no reason to take prescription drugs unless recommended by a doctor.

Look for Alternative Treatment

Even if a doctor recommends taking prescription drugs, you can still say no. Always look for alternative treatments before trying prescription drugs.

If you suffer from pain, try a massage, chiropractic treatment, acupuncture, or even over-the-counter painkillers. If you suffer from mental issues, try visiting a therapist or holistic practices such as meditation.

Are You Looking for Prescription Drug Rehab?

Do you suspect that you or a loved one has a prescription drug addiction? While holistic treatments and preventative measures are effective, there comes a time when an addict will need to attend prescription drug rehab.

Rehab facilities offer detox, counseling, and a myriad of activities to help you sober up. We offer comprehensive inpatient drug rehab treatment and our facilities are located throughout the United States.

About the Reviewer: Chris Barnes

Chris BarnesChristopher Barnes has worked in health care for over thirty years. He is a graduate of Alabama State University where he earned a double Bachelor of Science Degree in Social Work and Psychology in 1982. Christopher Barnes is currently the Director of Clinical services at The Discovery House where he has been employed for the past five years. Because of his extensive experience in health care & substance abuse he has an excellent rapport with constituents, clients, and other professional organizations in the counseling/social service community.