The presence of addiction can be deceptively subtle. This is especially true in the signs of prescription drug abuse. If you suspect that you or a loved one are suffering from a substance use disorder, please view this page to learn more about the common symptoms in this type of addiction.
Symptoms and Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse
There are many different signs of prescription drug abuse. These present differently in each case depending on the type of addiction, the age of the patient, and the patient’s medical history. Some warning signs to look out for in yourself or a loved one include:
- Changes in appetite
- Mood swings
- Shifts in sleeping habits (i.e., sleeping too much or too little)
- Neurological symptoms such as dizziness, confusion, and memory lapses
- An increase in anxiety or depression
- Slurred or slowed-down speech
- Changes in breathing patterns
- High blood pressure
- Inability to concentrate
- Lack of hand-eye coordination
Additionally, behavioral changes are often an indication of a substance use disorder. Behavioral symptoms of prescription drug misuse might look like:
- Requiring prescription medication refills too early or too often
- Using a higher dose of medication than prescribed
- Frequently switching doctors or seeing more than one who prescribes these drugs
- Obtaining prescriptions through illegal means (i.e., stealing, forging prescriptions, etc.)
If you recognize any of the signs or symptoms listed on this page, please call a health care professional today and consider seeking treatment options immediately.
When Does Prescription Drug Misuse Occur?
It is true that anybody can become addicted to prescription drugs. However, research has shown that certain patients might be more susceptible to prescription drug misuse as well as addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Commonly Abused Drugs
There are three main categories of prescription drug addiction. These include:
- Anti-Depressants and Anxiety
Obviously, these areas are fairly broad. The most commonly abused drugs in each of these categories are as follows:
- Sleep medications such as Ambien, Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, and more
- Pain killers with codeine, morphine, methadone, fentanyl, oxycodone, etc.
- “Uppers” or stimulants like Adderall, Dexedrine, and Ritalin.
Though many patients are able to successfully administer these prescriptions without becoming addicted, know that these medications all come with a higher chance of prescription misuse. If you are prescribed one or more of these medications, please be sure to check in with your doctor and health care team to better understand the risks.
Most importantly, if you suffer from a substance use disorder and require medication for preexisting health concerns, talk to our staff about your options for maintaining your health and keeping addiction at bay.
Addiction and the Inaccessibility of Prescription Medication Labels
Surprisingly, addiction to prescription medication often occurs in patients who are unable to read or see the labels on the medication bottles. Patients who have vision impairments, speak different languages, and/or are unable to understand the terminology used on these labels are all at risk of developing signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction.
When patients are unable to read the labels for any of these reasons, they are then unable to follow the instructions the doctor and pharmacist have given to them. The print on these labels can be incredibly small, which makes it challenging to access the dosage information as well as the risks associated with the drugs.
Patients often take these prescription medications outside of the label’s directions. This might mean that patients are taking too many pills or taking them incorrectly. Additionally, if patients are unable to read the label, they cannot be properly informed on the addictive risks of the medication.
It is important to always discuss impairments that might interfere with a patient’s ability to read or understand the medications they are taking. Be sure to speak with your pharmacy and ask to hear their accessibility notice. These notices will give you information on your legal rights to be able to access medication information and other details that pertain directly to your health.
Prescription Drug Abuse in Chronic Pain Patients
In many cases, patients who experience chronic pain often receive more access to an addictive prescription painkiller. In these situations, the patients are seeking relief from a painful condition that oftentimes has no cure. Doctors look to opioids and other prescription medication to address the patient’s unrelenting symptoms. Unfortunately, this is where prescription drug misuse might occur.
Some health care professionals do not take the patient’s mental health history into consideration before prescribing these drugs, which can lead to an increased chance of addiction. Even then, patients might misuse the painkillers as a way to alleviate their chronic pain. This, in turn, can also lead to prescription drug misuse and addiction.
On the other side of things, the patients who are using prescription medication to treat pain can unintentionally become addicted even if they follow the doctor’s recommendations. In fact, many patients are unaware that they might have a predisposition to addiction.
Substance use disorders are often seen in patients who have undiagnosed or untreated co-occurring mental health conditions. Just as with patients who experience chronic pain, those who suffer from mental illnesses are often at risk for prescription drug misuse.
This tendency to abuse drugs or alcohol often comes from a place of pain. Patients self-medicate as a way to alleviate the debilitating symptoms of their mental illnesses. Our treatment center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana specializes in dual diagnosis treatment to address the issues of addiction and mental health.
The Long-Term Effects of Prescription Drug Abuse
In addition to the daily struggles of living with addiction to drugs or alcohol, prescription drug abuse can have serious long-term effects. Various factors influence the possibility of long-term effects as well as their severity, such as the type of drug, the dosage, and the length of time a patient has been using the medication.
Many patients who take prescription drugs for a longer period of time develop a tolerance to these side-effects. This can be dangerous and potentially fatal, as the patients are no longer able to recognize a harmful physiological response to the medication.
While many of the prescription medications are meant to ease pain or address other health conditions, they do significantly alter your body’s usual way of functioning. Depending on the type of prescription being used or abused, your body might have one or more of the following responses that can be temporary or permanent:
- An increased heartrate and other cardiovascular issues
- Drastic changes in mood or behavior
- Gastrointestinal complications
- Mental illness symptoms (i.e., increased anxiety or hallucinations)
- Permanent damage to vital organs, including lungs, kidneys, and liver
- Depression and suicidal ideation
The effects of prescription drug abuse can be life-altering. This is one of the many reasons why we continue to evolve our treatment approaches to better our patients’ overall wellbeing after surviving addiction.
Hope for the Future: Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment
If you are one of the millions of people who struggle with prescription drug abuse, know that recovery is possible. We work to provide the best care to our patients, and we understand that taking that first step toward recovery is often the hardest.
We are here to help. To learn more about your treatment options and the hope of recovery, please contact us today. You can call our admissions staff at (225) 300-8470, or fill out our online contact form.