Prescription drugs are ordered for use by a licensed medical practitioner or healthcare provider. These medications are prescribed for a specific use and are not usually administered over the counter. Prescription drug addiction is the intake of medications for reasons other than why they were prescribed for. Also called pill abuse or misuse, prescription drug addiction is using prescription medicine in a way not intended by the issuer. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 5% of 12th graders misused prescription medications in 2022.
Abusing prescription drugs is becoming rampant and can have negative consequences on the individual, including altering brain functions. Over time, these alterations affect your decision-making and self-control and increase your cravings. To stop these cravings and effects, you need to know the prescription drug addiction symptoms and develop the appropriate treatment methods.
Types of Prescription Drugs
Prescription drugs are used under the doctor’s supervision and regulated by the government. Some types of prescription drugs include:
- Antibiotics: These medications treat bacterial infections, like pneumonia and UTI
- Antidepressants: These are common drugs for treating depression and anxiety. Examples include; sedatives and hypnotics like diazepam.
- Antipsychotics: They treat mental health conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
- Blood pressure medications: These medications treat high blood pressure or hypertension.
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs: These are medications used to lower high cholesterol levels in the blood.
- Painkillers: Painkillers, such as opioids, relieve pain from headaches, body, and injuries.
- Diabetes medications: These medications regulate glucose levels in the blood. They are commonly prescribed for people with diabetes.
- Hormone replacement therapy medications: These drugs are prescribed to those undergoing hormonal therapy.
- Immunosuppressants: These medications suppress the immune system to help the body recover after a surgical operation, like an organ transplant.
- Cancer treatments: These drugs are prescribed for those undergoing chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
Signs of Pill Addiction
Pill abuse symptoms vary depending on the individual, although they all exhibit some common traits. People with prescription drug addiction can hide their symptoms, making it challenging to notice. Common prescription drug abuse signs include;
- Increased tolerance: Prescription drug abuse may become compulsive over time, increasing the body’s tolerance to the medications. It means the individual will require higher doses to achieve a lasting effect.
- Withdrawal symptoms: When a person abruptly stops taking prescription drugs, they may develop withdrawal symptoms such as tremors or anxiety.
- Obsessiveness and increased cravings: Individuals addicted to prescription drugs may become obsessive about using and think of every possible way to obtain the drug. This may result in stealing.
- Doctor shopping: Doctor shipping is a syndrome where people with addiction problems try to get drugs from several hospitals and pharmacies to maintain supply.
- Mood and behavior changes: Prescription drug abuse can cause changes in behavior or mood, such as declined interest in intimacy or hobbies you once enjoyed.
- Physical changes: Abuse of prescription drugs can lead to weight loss/gain, insomnia, or changes in appetite.
- Continued use: Even amid challenges, such as financial difficulties or relationship problems, people with prescription drug addiction find ways to continue using the drug.
Other common signs include:
- Slow reflexes
- Trouble concentrating
- Respiratory problems
- Slurred speech
If someone you know has any or a combination of the above signs, they may have prescription drug abuse. Encourage them to seek help or contact an addiction specialist on their behalf.
Side Effects of Prescription Drug Addiction
Pill abuse can have several consequences that could be fatal. It can affect a person’s physical health, psychology, and financial well-being. Here are common side effects of prescription drug addiction;
- Physical dependence: This is perhaps the most significant side effect of prescription drug addiction. When an individual adapts to a particular drug, they may have withdrawal symptoms when they cease taking it.
- Organ damage: Abusing prescription drugs can lead to organ damage. Every year, there are reported cases of liver damage and heat failures associated with pill abuse.
- Mental health problems: Prescription drug addiction leads to serious mental health problems, such as depression and mood swings. These mental health conditions may worsen over time and diagnose as psychiatric cases.
- Social problems: Abusing prescription drugs can affect your social life and relationship. Your friends will have a reason to dissociate from you, and you may lose your job eventually. It leads you to depression.
- Overdose: Because the person depends on the prescription drug addiction, it is not impossible to overdose. Additionally, the person may try to experiment by mixing it with other substances. It could lead to death.
How to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse
According to the FDA, here is how to safely use prescription medications;
- Follow the doctor’s or medical practitioner’s instructions.
- Don’t alter the dosage without contacting your health expert first.
- Understand the drug’s side effects and how it will affect your daily life.
- Talk with your doctor if you want to change medication or incorporate more medications.
- Avoid using other people’s prescription medications.
Treating Prescription Drug Problems
Abusing prescription medications can result in life-threatening conditions. That’s why it needs professional treatment. However, you need to identify it first. With this article, you should be able to tell if your loved ones show signs of prescription drug addiction. There are many ways to treat prescription addiction, such as using medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapies, joining support groups, and changing your lifestyle. However, the option to be administered depends on the abuse and damage level. That is why talking to a healthcare professional is the first step and the best decision.
A healthcare professional will properly diagnose your condition and recommend the appropriate course of treatment. If you’re looking for a place to get treatment, DetoxLA is the right spot. Our team of specialists can help you overcome prescription addiction and live your regular life.