After alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana, prescription medications are the most used drug in America. Unfortunately, this has led to an epidemic of prescription drug abuse in the country. This affects millions of individuals every year, and the result is that a staggering number of people end up needing professional treatment to overcome addiction.
The biggest problem with prescription drugs is their ease of availability. People can talk to their doctor and leave with a perfectly legal controlled substance. Prescription drug abuse can occur with opioids, stimulants, central nervous system depressants, tranquilizers, and any other medication that isn’t used as prescribed.
People may think that misusing prescription drugs is safer than illicit substances since they can be obtained legally, but this is far from the case. In America, tens of thousands of people die from prescription medications yearly. At Transformations Treatment Center, we want to make sure you or your loved ones don’t become part of this statistic.
Prescription Drug Abuse Symptoms
If you feel like you may have developed an addiction to prescription drugs, it’s important to recognize the symptoms. Unfortunately, these can vary greatly depending on the drug in question. Individuals dealing with a Percocet addiction, for instance, could experience very different symptoms than someone addicted to Adderall.
Due to the nature of prescription drug abuse, though, there are many symptoms that are typically common among all misused medications. These relate more to your own behaviors than a physical reaction to the drug. If you notice any of the following symptoms, there’s a good chance you’ve developed a substance abuse disorder.
- Taking higher doses than prescribed by your doctor.
- Using the medication for longer than prescribed.
- Needing higher doses for similar effects (i.e. tolerance).
- Skipping doses in order to take higher doses later.
- Using for non-prescribed reasons.
- Taking prescription drugs without a valid prescription.
- Visiting several doctors to receive multiple prescriptions.
- Withdrawing from friends and family members.
- Lying to friends and family about your usage of the drug.
- Lying about losing prescriptions in order to get early refills.
- Using any deceptive means to acquire the substance.
- Doctor shopping to find someone who will offer the medication.
Each of these prescription drug abuse symptoms are signs that you may need help. It’s important to keep in mind that many other red flags could occur depending on your substance of choice. Frequent hyperactivity is quite common when taking stimulant medications, for instance, but people on prescription opioids may instead experience memory problems.
It could be difficult to admit you’ve developed a substance abuse disorder, and you may even be able to come up with explanations for these symptoms. One surefire symptom that you’ve developed an addiction, though, is the presence of withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop or reduce use. These can also vary depending on the drug, but there are some similarities.
The following withdrawal symptoms are sure signs you have a prescription drug abuse problem:
- Disturbances in sleep patterns.
- Altered emotional states (e.g. increased anxiety, depression).
- Uncharacteristic behaviors (e.g. "snapping" at people, aggressiveness).
- General feelings of ill health.
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Uncharacteristic health issues (e.g. panic attacks).
- Abnormal psychological responses (e.g. delusions, hallucinations).
These symptoms are common effects of withdrawal that typically diminish within a week of stopping most prescription drugs. It is possible that symptoms could last closer to a month, and for those who develop Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS), this could go on even longer. Avoiding these unpleasant outcomes is a common reason for continued use and relapse.
Withdrawal symptoms linked to prescription drug abuse can sometimes be fatal without treatment, but the biggest danger is typically an overdose. If you have significant changes in heart rate or blood pressure, lose consciousness, experience convulsions or seizures, have trouble breathing, or become delirious, you should seek help for a potential overdose.
Every day you’re abusing prescription drugs is a day you’re putting yourself in danger. Contact us at Transformations Treatment Center today to get on the road to recovery.
Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse
Watching a loved one deal with substance abuse can be terrifying and depressing, but they’ll often deny even having a problem. In fact, one of the biggest symptoms of prescription drug abuse is lying about misuse. This can make it difficult to know for sure what’s going on with your friend or family member, and in many cases, they’ll justify its use as medically necessary.
Just because someone has a prescription for a medication, though, doesn’t mean they aren’t abusing the drug. Fortunately, there are various signs of abuse that are extremely difficult to hide. If you notice any of the following behaviors or situations developing, there’s a good chance your loved one has begun misusing prescription drugs:
- Uncharacteristic bouts of social isolation.
- Disappearing with no contact for days at a time.
- Sudden and uncharacteristic behavioral changes.
- Having multiple prescriptions for similar drugs around the home.
- Sudden and consistent financial troubles.
- Secretive or deceptive behaviors.
- Serious problems arising at home, work or school.
- Scheduling doctor appointments with multiple physicians.
- Not participating in activities they once enjoyed.
- Arrests related to drug use.
- Continuing to use prescriptions after negative consequences.
- Changes in weight, personal hygiene or personal relationships.
- Spending time with unsavory or troublesome individuals.
There are other signs of prescription drug abuse, but they’re often dependent on the substance being misused. While these are often indicative of a drug problem, many of them could also be red flags of a mental health issue. Regardless of the underlying cause, these behaviors point towards your loved one needing help.
At Transformations Treatment Center, we know it can be difficult finding the right words to say. If you think a friend or family member is experiencing a substance abuse disorder, check out our Family Member Support Guide for help taking the first step.
Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics
Even individuals who don’t have prescriptions to certain drugs often have no problem getting their hands on them. This reality is linked directly to increasing prescription rates across much of the country. Once you start to look at the statistics related to prescription drug abuse, the severity of the problem becomes much more obvious.
- About 6 percent of Americans misuse prescription medications during a given year.
- Nearly 5,500 Americans misuse prescription drugs for the first time daily.
- Young adults between the ages of 18 and 25 have the highest rates of misuse.
- 20 percent of Americans have abused prescription drugs at least once.
- Two-thirds of teenagers who abuse prescription pain pills get them from friends and family.
- Nearly one-third of parents believe medication prescribed for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can help children perform better at school even if they don’t have ADHD.
- In 1999, there were fewer than 2 deaths per 100,000 residents linked to prescription opioids. This was closer to 4 deaths per 100,000 residents by 2018.
- Over 45 percent of Americans will use a prescription drug during a given month.
- 63.4 percent of people engaged in prescription drug abuse do so for pain relief.
- 11.7 percent of those who misuse do so to get high, and 10.9 percent do so to relieve tension.
The only silver lining in this data is that the majority of people who take prescribed medications are not abusing them. Unfortunately, the problem of prescription drug abuse continues even in the face of public initiatives to minimize misuse and fight addiction. If you or a loved one has developed substance dependency, you don’t have to become a statistic.
Reach out to us at Transformations Treatment Center today. Our first-rate facilities and certified staff of professionals are here to help.
Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment
Treatments can vary significantly for those who abuse prescription drugs. The strategy for overcoming dependence will rely heavily upon the substance in question, but even when two people are taking the same drug, their course of treatment will differ. This is because successful rehabilitation programs are custom-tailored to the individual.
Most treatment plans for prescription drug abuse start with a detoxification program. This is necessary to help the client overcome their withdrawal symptoms while minimizing the likelihood of negative health outcomes or relapse. How long this process takes can vary depending on a variety of factors such as:
- The prescription drug being abused.
- Typical dosage taken by the client.
- Method of use (e.g. ingestion, snorting, injection).
- Developed tolerance level.
- How long abuse has taken place.
- Physical factors (e.g. body fat, weight, height).
- Genetic factors.
- Medical history.
Treatment programs must also take into account common co-occurring disorders such as mental health issues or concurrent use of other drugs. In many cases, prescription drug abuse is symptomatic of bigger problems. Your body will eventually rid the drug from your system, and once underlying issues are identified and treated, the real path to recovery begins.
Prescription Drug Abuse Recovery
Everyone’s addiction and treatment plan is different, so it only makes sense that their path to recovery would vary as well. At Transformations Treatment Center, the recovery process focuses on treating the individual on a holistic level. This means our programs and therapies are geared towards healing your mind, body, spirit and even family ties when appropriate.
When most people think of recovering from addiction, they envision 12-step programs where everyone talks to a group. This could very well be part of an individual recovery plan, but this strategy might not work for everyone. That’s why we offer numerous treatment, rehabilitation and recovery programs at Transformations Treatment Clinic.
Plans could include any of the following:
- Partial hospitalization (PHP).
- Experiential services (e.g. Adventure therapy).
- Individual, group and family therapy.
- Serenity Lounge.
- Mental health treatments.
- Outpatient and Intensive outpatient programs.
- Faith-based recovery programs.
Overcoming prescription drug abuse is not a one-size-fits-all program. Building a treatment and recovery plan that’s focused on the individual greatly increases the chances of success. And once a person has found their stride on the road to recovery, a consistent aftercare program that centers around continued support can prove invaluable.
Don’t Fight This Alone
At Transformations Treatment Center, we understand just how difficult overcoming substance abuse can be. This is why we base all our treatment and recovery options on medical research and proven practices. The professionals we have on-staff can help you overcome withdrawal and get on the trajectory of sobriety.
Contact us today to learn how our programs can help you get your life back.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Centers for Disease Control