8 Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription medications are important in healthcare as they help alleviate pain, control symptoms, and improve the quality of life for many. But, as with most tools, when mishandled, they can become potentially harmful. Prescription drug misuse is a significant concern, often overlooked compared to other substance misuse issues. However, through participating in appropriate treatment programs, this harmful addiction can be effectively overcome.

Understanding Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is a serious problem in the United States, and understanding its signs and symptoms can help to identify people who may need help. Many prescription drugs are abused in order to achieve feelings of euphoria or relaxation, so it’s important to be aware of any changes in behavior that could indicate a problem.

Prescription drug abuse refers to the misuse of prescription medicine, which involves using it in ways not prescribed by a medical prescriber. This can range from taking someone else’s prescription painkiller for personal use to snorting or injecting crushed pills for recreational purposes. Despite the negative consequences, prescription drug abuse can become a persistent and compulsive behavior.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing concern that can impact individuals of all ages, including teenagers. The most commonly misused prescription drugs are opioid painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, sedatives, and stimulants.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

When individuals abuse prescription drugs, they may exhibit signs and symptoms that vary depending on the specific medication. However, there are common examples of physical, behavioral, emotional, cognitive, and psychosocial symptoms that could indicate a prescription drug abuse problem.

  • Behavioral Changes: One of the first signs of an addiction to prescription drugs is a change in behavior. People who are abusing prescription drugs may become increasingly secretive or isolated, often making excuses

  • Physical Changes: Individuals who abuse prescription drugs may also exhibit physical changes. Common signs of prescription drug misuse include extreme fatigue, decreased appetite or weight loss, flushed skin, and slurred speech. They may also display increased agitation or excitability.

  • Emotional Changes: An individual who is struggling with an addiction to prescription drugs may experience a range of emotional changes. These can include mood swings, depression, anxiety, irritability, and an inability to cope with everyday stress.

  • Cognitive Changes: Addiction to prescription drugs can also cause cognitive changes such as difficulty focusing, problems with memory, and impaired decision-making.

  • Psychosocial Changes: People who are abusing prescription drugs may also display psychosocial changes such as changes in social interactions or relationships, financial issues, and a general decrease in their overall quality of life.

    Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in the United States, and it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms so that people can get the help they need. If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these signs, it is important to seek professional help as soon as possible. Through treatment and support, it is possible to overcome an addiction to prescription drugs and reclaim a healthy, fulfilling life.

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Causes and Risk Factors for Pill Abuse

Causes and risk factors for pill abuse are often related to a person’s mental health, environment, or other risk factors. Common causes of prescription drug abuse include:

  1. Accessibility: The ease of access to highly addictive prescription drugs increases the likelihood of misuse and substance abuse. For example, if there is no supervision or monitoring when taking medication from a doctor or pharmacy, there is a greater chance of misusing it.
  2. Mental health: People with certain mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder, may turn to prescription drugs to cope with their symptoms. Additionally, those with a history of substance abuse are more likely to misuse prescription drugs.
  3. Peer pressure: Teens and young adults are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure when it comes to drug use. Peer pressure to take prescription drugs for recreational purposes can be strong, and it increases the risk of addiction.
  4. Stress: High levels of stress, either from work or personal life, can lead an individual to seek relief through prescription drugs. This leads to misuse and may eventually develop into an addiction.
  5. Genetics: It is believed that genetics can play a role in an individual’s risk of substance abuse. Studies have found that people with a family history of addiction are more likely to develop an addiction themselves.
  6. Environmental Factors: Environmental factors can also increase the risk of prescription drug abuse. These include living in a household where substance abuse is normalized, negative influences from peers, or access to drugs without supervision. Poor relationships with family and friends can also be a factor in developing an addiction.

Additionally, people who have experienced trauma may be more likely to turn to drugs as a coping mechanism.

Prescription Drug Abuse & Co-Occurring Disorders

People who are struggling with substance abuse issues often have underlying mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. For instance, someone misusing opioids might also be struggling with depression. When someone combines prescription drugs with other substances like alcohol or street drugs, it increases the risk of harm and can lead to life-threatening consequences.

Therefore, it is important for those struggling with substance abuse to seek professional help. Treatment for co-occurring disorders should include both psychological therapy and medication management in order to ensure a successful recovery.

Getting Help for Prescription Drug Abuse

If you believe a loved one is grappling with a prescription drug abuse problem, it’s essential to approach the situation with empathy and understanding. 

Treatment for prescription drug abuse is focused on helping individuals stop their misuse of drugs and get back to a healthy life. The most effective treatments combine medical, psychological, and social approaches in order to address the underlying causes of addiction. This often includes detoxification, medication management, psychotherapy, and group therapy.

Prescription drug abuse is a growing concern that demands our attention. By understanding the signs, causes, and the importance of getting the right help, we can better support family members or loved ones facing this challenge. Being informed, compassionate, and proactive is the key to aiding those in need and combating drug addiction and abuse. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription drug abuse, it is important to seek help immediately. Treatment can be tailored to each individual’s needs and may include medication-assisted treatment, behavioral therapy, counseling, support groups, and residential treatment programs. It is also important to remember that recovery from addiction is possible. With the right support and resources, individuals can learn to manage their addiction and lead a healthier life.

To learn more about prescription abuse and addiction or our continuum of care, contact our admissions team today.