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Warning Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

Many people take prescription medications under the supervision of their doctors. However, some drugs that are prescribed have the potential for abuse. In addition, people who take these medications may not be aware of their addictive nature until it is too late. People with opioid use disorder, for example, often don’t realize the extent of their addiction until they try to stop using opioids and suffer severe withdrawal symptoms.

Legally obtained prescriptions are one of the most commonly abused drugs in America. While most drugs are meant to improve our quality of life or our health, some also have side effects that can cause misuse and lead to a substance use disorder.

What Prescription Drugs Are Addictive?

Any drug that can alter your state of mind, cause euphoria, or other pleasurable side effects can be addictive.

  • Some of the most addictive prescription drugs are opioids (narcotics) such as Oxycontin or Vicoden. People addicted to opioids can suffer severe withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop using after regular drug use.
  • Barbiturates, also known as downers or sedatives, are also frequently abused. One drug in this category is phenobarbital, a powerful sedative.
  • Benzodiazepines are prescription medications commonly used to quell anxiety or help a person relax their muscles. This drug class includes drugs like Klonopin or Valium that can cause a drowsy, calm, and sedate effect in their users. These feelings can be pleasurable, especially for people who have anxiety.
  • People sometimes abuse sleep medications. For example, drugs like Ambien can cause side effects like sleepwalking or hallucinations when people take more of the drug than prescribed.
  • Amphetamines like Adderall are often prescribed for people who have an ADHD diagnosis. The drugs are also sometimes used by people who want to lose weight or “cram” for classes in college. However, at higher doses, these drugs function as speed and can have dangerous withdrawal symptoms. They also can cause cardiac arrest.

Who Abuses Prescription Drugs?

People of all ages have the potential to abuse prescription medications.

When a drug is addictive, there is always a potential for misuse when a doctor prescribes it. For example, it’s common for a person using an opioid for pain relief to take an extra pill or take their next dose early to get more of a euphoric feeling.

Sometimes, though, a person who misuses prescription drugs may not have been prescribed them. For example, adolescents who experiment with drugs might take medication from their mother or grandfather’s pill bottle when they are not looking. This scenario is why it is so important to properly dispose of opioids and other prescription drugs if you’re not using them.

Symptoms of Prescription Drug Misuse

People who are abusing substances will often change their behavior. For example, they may be more secretive or less talkative. In addition, young people who are using drugs will sometimes change their friend circle. They may have trouble getting to work on time, have financial issues, or even get in trouble with the law.

If a person is misusing prescription drugs, they may also display the following behavior:

  • Splitting pills or having multiple bottles of drugs in the room - usually from more than one doctor. Sometimes there will be evidence of tablets being crushed into powder and snorted.
  • Doctor-shopping and getting multiple prescriptions for the same health issue.
  • Looking unkempt or not caring about their appearance.
  • Buying drugs or pills off the internet or seeing multiple internet doctors for the same problems.
  • Refusing to talk about their health problems or prescription pill usage.

Each drug, however, has its own side effects. For example, a person who is misusing Adderall may stay up all night for days, while a person who is on opioids may appear to be sleeping all the time.

You can learn more about prescription drug abuse on this blog and recognize the symptoms of addiction. In addition, information on specific prescription drugs can help you learn about the signs of misuse and the dangers or side effects.

Getting Help for Addiction

If you or somebody you love need help with a substance use problem, we’re here to guide you. Learn more about our programs and how we can help you get on the road to recovery by calling us at 619-363-4767.





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Mark G
Mark Gladden brings both personal and professional experience to his role as co-founder of Present Moments Recovery. Now in long-term recovery himself after struggling with addiction for years, Mark understands firsthand the challenges men face in achieving and maintaining sobriety. It was this insight, combined with a desire to help others, that led Mark to establish Present Moments Recovery.

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