Prescription drug abuse has become a shockingly common problem in America today, with many people becoming addiction before they are even aware themselves. As with any kind of addiction, people have a tendency to mask their symptoms and they tend to become secretive and isolated and it can be tough for others close to them to see the warning signs.
One of the biggest problems with prescription drug abuse is that it often stems from a need to treat chronic pain and because it comes from a doctor, people tend to view the drugs as being ‘safe.’ Whereas other drugs like cocaine and heroin are obtained illegally, people who develop a dependence on opioids, for example, were intentionally prescribed to them in the first instance.
After a while, however, the body develops a degree of resistance to the same drugs and if someone is being treated for chronic pain, they can often feel that they need stronger and stronger doses to cope. This can lead to a refusal of their doctor to prescribe more than their patient needs and ultimately an individual may decide to find a street alternative instead.
There are three main kinds of prescription drugs commonly abused:
Painkillers and Opioids
These include drugs such as Percocet and OxyContin which contain oxycodone and also Vicodin which has hydrocodone and all of them are prescribed for chronic pain. They combat pain by producing a euphoric feeling that is not dissimilar to that of heroin, which is another drug from the opioid family.
Tranquilizers are prescribed to treat sleep disorders and anxiety and include Xanax, Valium, and Ambien which contain alprazolam, diazepam and zolpidem respectively. These drugs create a feeling of calm which is supposed to relieve the symptoms of people suffering from mental health disorders like anxiety but as tolerance to it develops; the user can easily fall into abusive behavior and become addicted.
The most common stimulants that are prescribed include Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, and Dexedrine, which are used to treat hyperactivity conditions such as ADHD and also some sleep disorders. ADHD is a significant problem around the world and so it has become easy to obtain these stimulants on the streets.
Here we examine the warning signs of addiction to prescription drugs, which vary according to the type of medication a person has been abusing:
Symptoms of Painkiller Abuse
- Depression, irritability, mood swings, apathy
- Low energy levels and motivation
- Neglecting important activities or responsibilities
- Increased sensitivity to noise, light, taste, touch, and smell
- Increased heart rate and high blood pressure
- Decreased appetite and weight loss
- Inability to sleep despite constantly being tired
- Constipation, nausea and sometimes difficulty breathing
Symptoms of Tranquilizer Abuse
- Withdrawal from others and a need to be alone
- Failure to meet expectations and responsibilities
- Increased respiratory infections
- Double vision, muscle fatigue, vertigo, headaches
- Increased appetite and weight gain or reduced appetite and weight loss
- Slowed reaction time and increased irritability and mood swings
- Depression and anxiety
- Confusion, clouded thought processes and a sense of vagueness
Symptoms of Stimulant Abuse
- Dilated pupils, agitation, and hyperactivity
- Inability to sleep and constant restlessness
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Increased rate of breathing and irregular heartbeat
- Chest pains, nausea, sweating and dizziness
- Increased aggression and sometimes, psychotic behavior
Drug and alcohol rehab centers offer programs that are tailor-made for people struggling with addiction to prescription drugs. It is now widely recognized that there is more of an unwillingness to see there is a problem when the drugs have been recommended as it were by a doctor. Drug and alcohol treatment can successfully prevent someone’s addition to prescription drugs from transferring to more illicit and dangerous drugs when the warning signs have been recognized either by themselves or those close to them.
Specialist drug and alcohol rehab centers like Ranch Creek Recovery in California are also extremely useful in teaching patients other mechanisms to deal with pain or depression that can be used when treatment has been completed and they have returned home. It is important for people struggling with addiction to be able to see a brighter future on the horizon and for that to be achieved, they need healing for their bodies, minds and emotional states. A program that has been designed to meet the specific needs of each individual seeking care is the most effective form of drug and alcohol treatment.