What are the Signs of Prescription Pill Abuse?

Discussions about prescription drug abuse frequently turn to opioids or prescription painkillers. Although the effects of these drugs on all demographics are notable, they are not the only prescription medication with high rates of abuse and addiction. Statistics from 2018 suggest that abuse of prescription drugs leads to more than 100 deaths every day.


Some research suggests that up to eighteen million Americans have a substance use disorder based on their dependency or addiction to a prescription drug. Because each prescription drug has differing effects on the user, it can be challenging for friends, family, or even medical providers to determine if their loved one has an addiction to prescription drugs. Recognizing the signs of prescription drug abuse can ensure you or your loved one receives the help and support needed to overcome addiction safely.


What Drugs are Prescription Pills?

Prescription pills fall into several categories. These include widely prescribed medications, including depressants, stimulants, benzodiazepines, and opioids. Medical and mental health providers prescribe these medications to patients to treat a wide variety of conditions, including chronic pain and symptoms of various mental health diagnoses. Common examples of prescription pills include Valium, Ambien, Hydrocodone, Fentanyl, Methadone, Ritalin, and Adderall.


It is important to remember that these medications are highly effective components of a treatment plan when used appropriately and by the individual to whom they are prescribed. However, the benefits of these drugs are often matched (if not outweighed) by a dramatically high risk of abuse and subsequent addiction. For this reason, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) categorizes many of these medications as controlled substances.


Why are Prescription Pills Often Abused?

Prescription pills are frequently abused because of the effects they produce. Although the impact of each drug varies slightly based on the category of drug, each causes powerful effects on the body and brain. When used (even as directed), prescription pills alter the function of the brain and most body systems. It is important to remember that these changes are necessary to achieve specific results such as pain management, inducing sleep, reducing anxiety, or improving energy.


These changes are accomplished because the drug changes how the reward system in the central nervous system functions. These changes make it difficult to “feel good” without using the drug. After a long period of use, it becomes challenging and, in some cases, impossible to feel the same effects once felt at the prescribed dose. To achieve the desired effects, someone with a prescription pill addiction will take larger and more frequent doses to achieve the same “high” or sense of relief. Should they try to reduce or stop using the drug, uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms often occur. Once dependency occurs, it is crucial to seek help to ensure you can recover from prescription pill addiction safely.


What are the Signs of Prescription Pill Abuse?

Prescription pills are designed to produce specific effects on the body and brain. As a result, it can be challenging to determine which effects are desirable and which are indicative of prescription drug abuse. For example, increased sedation and energy are both indications of abuse and desired effects of the drug. Additionally, it is also crucial to remember that the signs of prescription drug abuse will look different from substance to substance which further complicates recognizing the symptoms of prescription drug abuse.


Signs of prescription drug abuse fall into three categories, including emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms. Again, how each symptom presents from person to person will vary based on several factors; however, there are common symptoms that may occur regardless of the type of drug. Examples of emotional or psychological symptoms may include increased stress, depression, psychotic symptoms, anxiety, and memory and thought processes problems.


Physical symptoms of prescription pill abuse may consist of difficulties breathing, heart problems, diet and weight changes, skin sores, and problems with digestion. Other physical symptoms may include problems sleeping, new or worsening health problems, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not using. Behavioral changes that often accompany prescription drug abuse are increased isolation, legal and financial problems related to drug abuse, mood swings, irritability, engaging in drug-seeking behaviors, poor judgment, stealing or forging prescriptions, and doctor shopping.


How to Find Prescription Pill Treatment Programs

Reaching out for help to overcome prescription drug abuse is the first step on a journey to freedom from prescription pill addiction. Let our team at Rise in Malibu help you take the first steps as you start over and pursue a future without prescription drugs. Contact our luxury drug and alcohol rehab today to learn more about our Malibu treatment programs and how we can help you achieve lasting sobriety.

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