How do I know if my loved one is suffering from prescription drug abuse?
There are warning some signs of prescription drug abuse. If you think that someone you love may have a problem with prescription drug abuse, look for some of the following indications:
Opioids: Increased anxiety, panic attacks, psychosis, depression, irritability, lowered motivation, prescription drug is used longer or used at a higher amount than intended or prescribed, unsuccessfully attempting to decrease amount or stop, large amount of time is spent obtaining the prescription drug, abandonment of important responsibilities or activities, increased alertness or extreme drowsiness, sedation, feeling no pain, euphoria, shallow or slow breathing, nausea, vomiting, itching or flushed skin, sweating, slurred speech, confusion, poor judgement, small pupils, and low blood pressure.
Anti-anxiety and Sedatives: Memory loss, sleepiness, lack of coordination, slurred speech, dizziness, dilated pupils, paranoia, suicidal thoughts or ideations, aggressive behavior, agitation, headaches, fatigue, and depression.
Stimulants: Decreased fatigue, decreased sleeping (may not sleep at all at times), euphoria, dry mouth, dilated pupils, rapid breathing, increased energy, increased alertness, increased blood pressure, decreased appetite, weight loss (sometimes severe), irritability, aggressive behavior, paranoia, blurred vision, nausea, headaches, hallucinations, and amphetamine induced psychosis.
Some other symptoms that may accompany prescription drug abuse include: Requests for higher doses, refusal to change prescriptions, early or unscheduled refills on the prescription drugs, “losing” prescriptions, frequent ER or Urgent Care visits, going to many different doctors, buying medication off the internet, asking friends or relatives for medication or money to obtain it, and avoiding family and friends.
All the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse may not be present. This does not mean that your loved one is not struggling with a prescription drug abuse problem. Sometimes your loved one may go to great lengths to hide their addiction from you.
Often loved ones of the person suffering will have trouble recognizing or even accepting that the person they love has a prescription drug abuse problem. Often there are many excuses and rationalizations.
What are the excuses I tell myself to make the prescription drug abuser’s behavior okay?
- “It’s just a phase.”
- “The doctor prescribed it, so it must be okay.”
- “They’re always in so much pain”
- “They need it to be successful in school or work.”
- “They’re taking the medicine for a legitimate reason.” For example: Taking stimulants for ADD/ADHD, taking anti-anxiety because they have panic attacks or trauma, taking opioids (pain pills) because they have had serious injuries to their bodies.
Prescription drug abuse is a widespread problem. Different prescription drugs have different effects. The most commonly abused prescription drugs are opioids, anti-anxiety medications, sedatives, and stimulants.
Common abused forms of opioids are:
- Hydrocodone (Vicodin,Lortab,Lorcet)
- Fentanyl (Actiq/Sublimaze)
- Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- Meperidine (Demerol)
There are many prescription opioids. These are just some of the common opioid prescription drugs.
Commonly abused forms of anti-anxiety and sedatives are:
- Benzondiazepines (Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Limbitrol, Halicon)
- Sedatives/ Sleeping Pills (Lunesta, Sonata, Ambien)
Commonly abused forms of stimulants are:
- Amphetamine (Adderall,Benzedrine)
- Methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin)
- Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate (Vyvanse)