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mean pondering prescription drug abuse in the dark of his hotel room

Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drugs are commonly abused, in part because they’re legal and easily available. In the U.S., alarming numbers of Americans are abusing prescription painkillers in what’s been deemed an opioid crisis. Many prescription drugs are relatively safe when used for their intended medical purpose, but they can also cause a high and have addictive properties. If you are worried that a loved one may be abusing prescription drugs, then it’s important to know the signs of prescription drug abuse.

If you see the symptoms of prescription drug abuse, reach out to the opioid addiction treatment center in MA for recovery.

Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

The symptoms of a high vary depending on the type of drug the person you know is using. The main prescription drugs abused include:

  • Opioids (used as painkillers)
  • Sedatives/tranquilizers (used mainly to treat anxiety and sleep disorders)
  • Stimulants (commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD])

Signs of Opioid Abuse

  • Extreme happiness or euphoria after taking the drug
  • Once the euphoria fades, a feeling of sedation or tiredness may take over
  • Confusion
  • Constricted pupils
  • Nodding off at random times
  • Shortness of breath
  • Depression
  • Rapid decrease in blood pressure
  • Constipation

Signs of Sedative or Tranquilizer Abuse

  • Difficulty with memory
  • Poor concentration
  • Rapid, involuntary eye movements
  • Involuntary bodily movements, gestures, or tics
  • Unsteady movements or mannerisms
  • Poor judgment and decision-making
  • Confusion about one’s environment or time
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Muscle weakness

Signs of Stimulant Abuse

  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Extreme agitation or irritability
  • Increased hostility
  • Insomnia
  • Unexplained weight loss

For any of the above signs of prescription drug abuse, the journey to recovery begins with a safe medical drug detox program in Worcester.

Look for Drug-Seeking Behavior

One of the most obvious signs of prescription drug abuse is drug-seeking behavior, which comes in various forms. It is vital to recognize the signs and that prescription drug misuse can occur at any age in anyone. Warning signs of prescription drug abuse include:

  • Visiting multiple doctors for the same condition
  • Claiming to lose prescriptions and requesting that a doctor replace them
  • Frequently making requests for refills from doctors
  • Stealing or borrowing prescription pills from friends, family members, or co-workers
  • Taking prescription medications sooner than advised
  • Inconsistent or deceptive answers to questions about their prescription drug use
  • Forging or stealing prescriptions
  • Ordering prescription drugs over the internet
  • Continuing to take prescription drugs when they are no longer needed to treat a condition
  • Taking more than the recommended dose

Understanding Prescription Drug Abuse

Many types of prescription drugs, such as opioids (e.g. OxyContin) and benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax), carry the risk of addiction. Because of the euphoria they can produce, addiction can eventually develop. Increased use means tolerance also increases, so your loved one needs more of the drug to achieve the desired effects. If someone you know is struggling with this kind of drug addiction, signs include:

  • Mood swings, which can be related to whether prescription drugs are available or not
  • Increased irritability, especially when prescription drugs are unavailable
  • Changing sleep patterns
  • Increased alcohol use – People who abuse prescription drugs often mix them with alcohol to boost the feelings of euphoria. This cocktail of prescription drugs and alcohol increases the risk of physical complications, including overdose.

When a loved one cannot get a new prescription or access to their drug of choice, they may go through a period of withdrawal. Picking up on the signs of withdrawal can help alert you to drug addiction. Physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms can differ significantly based on:

  • The type of prescription drug a loved one is addicted to
  • How much of the drug is used
  • How long they’ve used it for
  • The extent to which they’re addicted

Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms of an addiction to pills include:

  • Decreased self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Racing thoughts
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Shakes and tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Cold flashes
  • Involuntary leg movements, such as kicking
  • Sweating
  • Bone and muscle pain
  • Vomiting and nausea

Getting over these withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly difficult. If a loved one is experiencing them, they may find them too unpleasant to handle and will seek out their drug of choice in order to feel better again. This is why you need to look out for withdrawal symptoms, so you can help the person you love to deal with prescription drug abuse and choose sobriety.

How to Help a Loved One

It can be difficult to know how to help a loved one who’s addicted to pills. They may tell you they need the drug in order to treat their condition, and you can’t tell how legitimate their drug-taking behavior is. Being able to spot the signs and symptoms mentioned above will make a big difference: You can more easily distinguish between responsible drug use and harmful, risky drug abuse. If you think someone you love is abusing pills, there are a few ways you can help them. First, try to keep judgment at bay, as prescription drug abuse can affect anyone. Often, people use these drugs to deal with legitimate physical or psychiatric conditions, only to find themselves dependent on the drug’s effects down the line.

Don’t Enable Drug Abuse

A loved one with a substance abuse problem may start asking you for favors that aid their drug-taking behavior. These could include:

  • Giving them money
  • Taking them to the doctor (or multiple doctors)
  • Giving them your prescription drugs

A loved one may also become emotional or resort to guilt-tripping, manipulation, deception, or pleading. You may find it difficult to refuse their requests, especially when they insist that they need the drugs to handle pain. Nevertheless, you have to be strong in these situations. Be firm and compassionate about why you are denying their requests, making clear that you will not enable their prescription drug abuse. This approach ultimately helps a loved one’s recovery.

Seek Treatment for Prescription Drug Abuse

There are various treatments that can help a loved one who is hooked on prescription drugs. Discuss these options with your loved one and a medical professional, so you can both figure out what course of action is best for them. Programs include:

You may feel like you want to save a loved one from prescription drug abuse, and while there are things you can do to help, you cannot force a loved one to never abuse drugs again and stay sober. The most effective thing you can do is provide them with compassion and care, and support them in their chosen path to recovery. Contact Washburn House with any questions about opioid addiction and treatment. Call 855.298.3104 to speak with addiction specialists today.

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