What Are the Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse?

Prescription drugs, when taken as directed by a doctor, can effectively treat various ailments. Narcolepsy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be managed with prescription stimulants. Prescription depressants of the central nervous system (CNS) are used to treat sleep, anxiety, and panic disorders. To manage moderate to severe pain, doctors often prescribe opioids. But when these prescription drugs are misused, they can have adverse and even dangerous effects. In this article, you will learn about the signs of prescription drug abuse and where to get help if you or your loved one show any prescription drug addiction symptoms.


Are Prescription Drugs Dangerous?

Prescription drugs like stimulants for ADHD, opioid painkillers, and CNS depressants for anxiety or sleep disorders, are all safe and effective when taken according to a doctor’s prescription for the problems they are intended to treat. Prescription drug abuse, however, can cause a variety of issues. Prescription drug abuse is when you take prescription drugs in a manner not intended by the prescribing doctor. Prescription drugs can be especially dangerous and even fatal when taken in excessive amounts, combined with other prescription medications, or when coupled with alcohol, illegal drugs, or certain over-the-counter medications.

Here are a few examples of the dangers of prescription drug abuse:

  • Abuse of anti-anxiety medications and sedatives can result in low blood pressure, slow breathing, and memory issues. Overdosing may result in a coma or death. Withdrawal symptoms, including nervous system hyperactivity and seizures, may arise when the drug is stopped abruptly.
  • Some dangers associated with the abuse of stimulants are high blood pressure, high body temperature, aggression, paranoia, hallucinations, and seizures or tremors.
  • Opioid abuse can cause a slow breathing rate, low blood pressure, the potential for breathing to stop, or a coma. An opioid overdose can cause death. 

Which Prescription Drugs are Most Often Abused?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there are three major categories of prescription drugs that are mostly abused. They include:

  • Depressants: Among the medications in this category is benzodiazepines (Valium, Ativan, Xanax) for sleep disorders and anxiety, and barbiturates (Amytal, Nembutal, Luminal, Seconal) for seizures and as anesthesia. Even when used as prescribed by a doctor, taking depressants for a long time can lead to tolerance in some people. This means that they need more frequent and/or higher doses of the drug to achieve the desired effects. Continued use can lead to a substance use disorder.
  • Opioids: Opioid painkillers are effective in treating pain and have been prescribed by doctors for decades to treat severe to moderate pain, as well as cough and diarrhea. Opioids are highly addictive and when taken for a long time can cause opioid use disorder. However, when taken under a doctor’s close watch or in a short period, the chances of developing an opioid use disorder are significantly reduced. Examples of prescription opioids are hydrocodone, morphine (MS Contin, Kadian, Astramorph, Avinza, Oramorph SR), oxycodone (Percocet, Vicodin, OxyContin), and codeine.
  • Stimulants: In the past, stimulants were used for treating asthma and obesity. Currently, they have been found useful in the management of conditions like ADHD, narcolepsy, and depression. Examples of stimulants include lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse), methylphenidate (Methylin, Ritalin, Concerta, Daytrana), dextroamphetamine (ProCentra, Dexedrine, Dextrostat), and a combination of dextroamphetamine and amphetamine (Adderall). These medications give your body a significant boost, increasing alertness, energy, and focus. Stimulant abuse, especially when crushed and snorted can lead to addiction.


What are the Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse?

Signs of prescription drug abuse depend on the category of prescription drugs involved. The signs someone is addicted to prescription drugs can generally be divided into physical changes and behavioral changes.

Physical Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

CNS Depressants:

  • Memory loss
  • Slow breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Slow speech
  • Walking unsteadily
  • Poor concentration

Opioid abuse:

  • Pain even with high doses
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation


  • Trouble sleeping
  • Erratic heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature

Behavioral Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

Though the physical signs someone is addicted to prescription drugs may differ, the behavioral signs are generally similar. They include:

  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Asking for early refills
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Changing routines
  • Visiting different doctors for the same condition
  • Frequently using the bathroom


Finding Prescription Drug Abuse Rehab Centers in Malibu

Addiction is a disease that affects not just the addict but the family and the community as a whole. A person who is addicted to prescription drugs finds it difficult to stop the drug regardless of its negative effects. Substance abuse affects health, work productivity, and crime rates of any community. It is imperative, therefore, that treatment be sought for anyone suffering from addiction.

If you or your loved ones show any sign of prescription drug abuse, Rise in Malibu is a drug and alcohol luxury rehab that can provide you or your loved one with personalized treatment to meet your specific needs. Call Rise in Malibu today to learn more about our luxury drug rehab in Malibu, CA.

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