How to Identify Prescription Drug Addiction
Millions of Americans are prescribed prescription medication each year to help relieve symptoms of pain. Unfortunately, many patients abuse their prescription and become dangerously addicted. Addicts use prescription medication for non-medical or recreational uses in high doses to seek out the sensations of feeling “high.” In 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that over 15 million people suffered from opioid drug addiction in the United States. Today, prescription drugs are being abused more frequently than marijuana and alcohol due to their availability. Most people perceive narcotics as safe because doctors prescribe them. This is why some will continue to use the drug even after their pain has subsided.
Some addicts reject drug rehab or detox due to either fear of judgment or embarrassment. Others may feel like their drug use isn’t getting in the way of their day-to-day life. For many people, they don’t notice prescription drug abuse in their loved ones until it’s too late. There are behavioral changes, physical symptoms, and other addiction indicators you can pinpoint in people who may be abusing prescription drugs. Some of these signals may be mild, but can still indicate a deeper problem. If you’re concerned that someone you love may be suffering from prescription drug addiction and need drug rehab, there are steps you can take. The first is to identify the specific risk factors.
Risk Factors To Look Out For
As tolerance increases when taking narcotic medication, the user will most likely increase their dose. Some may feel the increased dose helps alleviate their pain, while others think it helps them feel confident in social situations. If the individual is experiencing chronic pain, debilitating physical health, or constant panic attacks, may take excessive amounts of pills to cope. The likely hood of pain medication addiction increases if the person has:
- Experimented with drugs in the past
- Suffers from mental disorders
- Lives in poverty
- Has a family history of addiction
- Has suffered from abuse
- Easy accessibility to drugs
- Went through a significant life change
- Associates with other drug users
However, there are many people who will still abuse prescription medication without having any of those risk factors. Many addicts will try to hide their abuse, so it’s important to pay attention to the following behavioral changes:
- They become easily irritable or express sudden mood swings.
- They become clumsy or forgetful out of the blue.
- They miss work, school, regular activities, or their performance has suffered.
- They avoid eye contact, become deceitful, and lie.
- Little to no interest in personal appearance.
- They have lost a significant amount of weight and have a decreased appetite.
- They become abusive and engage in reckless behavior.
- They are always asking to borrow money.
The Physical Symptoms
Opioid pain relievers are prescribed to treat short and long-term pain usually following surgery or for cancer. These go by the names hydrocodone, fentanyl, codeine, oxycodone, and morphine. They are easily abused because they make the user feel happy and relaxes. There are physical symptoms that a prescription drug addict may display including:
- Dry mouth
- Low blood pressure
- Lack of coordinationConfusion
- Watery eyes
- Sleepiness, dizziness, weakness
- Respiratory depression
- Constricted pupils
- Constipation, nausea, vomiting
- Slow gait
- Itching, dry skin, or skin infections
- Slurred speech
- Track marks (if injecting)
- Constant flu-like symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Skin flushing
- Sweating, tremors or shaking
Irregular heartbeatIf your loved one’s addiction is severe and they want help, they may need to seek a detox center for their own safety. Withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous, even deadly. When the user starts the withdrawal process, their body goes into shock. It will begin to rid itself of the prescription drugs or painkillers. Depending on the severity of the usage, they could experience seizures, fever, tremors, and suicidal thoughts.If you suspect your loved one is abusing prescription pain pills, the first step is to talk with them. Don’t wait until it’s too late to recognize the problem. Try to be as non-judgmental as possible avoiding, threats, punishment, bribes, preaching, and emotional appeals. Once they admit they have a problem, they can start to take responsibility for their actions. This will give you both an opportunity to work through the steps to recovery.
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