Prescription drug abuse occurs when someone takes a prescribed medication in a way that isn’t specifically directed. This can include taking medicine prescribed to someone else or taking the drug more often or in higher doses than your doctor directed. Recognizing the signs of prescription drug abuse and understanding the dangers can help you identify when you or a loved one needs treatment.
Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse
The signs that someone is abusing drugs sometimes depend on the specific drug. Opioid painkillers have different effects than stimulants designed to manage symptoms of ADHD or narcolepsy. It can sometimes be difficult to tell if you are seeing side effects of regular prescription drug use or abuse of prescription medication, though. People who are misusing prescription drugs do sometimes display other behaviors unrelated to the drug’s actual effects.
Some signs of prescription drug abuse include:
- Drug-seeking behavior, such as asking about where to acquire specific medications on the black market
- Frequent switching of doctors to find one willing to prescribe the desired drug
- Borrowing or buying medication from friends or strangers instead of getting a prescription
- Taking higher doses than prescribed
- Running out of the drug earlier than the pharmacy-provided instructions indicate
- Crushing or breaking pills instead of taking them in pill form
- Irritability when the desired drug isn’t available
- Mood swings tied to whether the drug is available or not
- Withdrawal symptoms when the drug runs out or when refills are unobtainable
- Forging prescriptions to get the drug
- Stashing the drug in various places around the home or office
- Lying about how often or how frequently the drug should be taken
Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse can lead to addiction and physical dependence on the drug. During physical dependence, the body becomes acclimated to the drug and ceases to have the same effect at normal doses. The user begins to require higher doses to get the usual effect. If the user stops taking the drug, withdrawal symptoms might develop. Addiction involves a psychological craving for the drug in addition to the physical dependence.
Misuse of prescription drugs can also affect your health. Opiates can cause dangerously low blood pressure and slow your breathing rate. Stimulants might raise your blood pressure to harmful levels, cause seizures and tremors, or induce mental effects such as paranoia, irritability and aggressiveness. Sedatives might lower your blood pressure and breathing rate or cause some memory loss.
One of the biggest dangers of prescription drug abuse is that you can overdose on the drug and possibly die. Overdose deaths due to prescription opioids are a growing concern. Deaths due to misuse of opiates were five times higher in 2016 than in 1999, a significant increase over just 7 years.
People who are abusing prescription drugs might also behave in ways that harm their relationships or careers. In addition, they might engage in risky behaviors, turn to crime to pay for illegally obtained drugs or get into accidents when under the influence of drugs.
If you’re concerned about prescription drug abuse and want to break free of an addiction to drugs, contact Changing Tides at 252-715-3905 to talk to someone about treatment options at our beachfront rehabilitation center in North Carolina.