7 Signs Your Loved One Is Addicted to Prescription Drugs
Millions of people across the United States use prescription drugs—many of which have a high potential for abuse, physical dependence, and addiction. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the most commonly abused prescription drugs are opioids, benzodiazepines, and stimulants—the latter of which are typically used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Knowing common signs of prescription drug addiction can help people determine whether their loved ones may be at risk and could benefit from treatment. Here are seven signs a loved one may be suffering from prescription drug addiction and needs help.
The NIDA defines prescription drug misuse as using medications in a manner or dose other than prescribed. This includes using medication that was prescribed for someone else, using it only for the sake of experiencing euphoria (extreme happiness), or crushing pills so they can be snorted or injected. A loved one may be suffering from addiction if they are using their medications in any of these ways.
2. Doctor Shopping
Doctor shopping is the act of visiting multiple healthcare providers for the sake of obtaining multiple prescriptions. Every state has its own prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP), which is an electronic database that keeps track of all controlled substance prescriptions by patient.
The PDMP can tell doctors whether certain patients have multiple prescriptions for habit-forming drugs like opioids. However, not all doctors and states update their databases, which leaves many patients vulnerable to addiction. A loved one may be doctor shopping if they have various healthcare providers or frequently make appointments to see new doctors.
3. Losing Medications
Those who suffer from prescription drug addiction may “lose” or misplace their medications frequently so they can contact their doctors for a refill. They may also run out of their medications more quickly than they should. Many empty prescription bottles located throughout the person’s home and vehicle may also indicate a problem with prescription drug abuse.
4. Unexplained Illnesses
People who want to abuse medications may suddenly say they are suffering from new health problems so they can obtain prescriptions for those drugs. For example, a person who wants benzodiazepines may say they have high anxiety levels, while a person who wants opioids may say they suddenly developed severe back pain.
Alternately, these individuals may start developing new, legitimate health problems caused by prescription drug abuse. For example, long-term use of opioids can lead to sleep-disordered breathing, constipation, and fractures, according to a study published in the Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders. Unexplained illnesses, whether legitimate or illegitimate, may indicate problems with prescription drug abuse.
5. Drug Cravings
According to the NIDA, strong drug cravings or urges to use drugs are a common sign of addiction. A loved one addicted to prescription drugs may frequently talk about craving the drug or about wanting to use it regularly.
6. Withdrawal Symptoms
Opioids, benzodiazepines, Adderall, and other habit-forming medications will cause withdrawal symptoms in those who suddenly stop using them after they’ve become addicted. Withdrawal symptoms are usually specific to the class of medication being used.
Opioids cause symptoms including insomnia, nausea, and muscle cramps, while benzodiazepines can cause anxiety, restlessness, and poor memory. Adderall and other stimulants may cause intense hunger, panic attacks, and fatigue.
7. Inability to Stop Using
People who suffer from addiction are often unable to control their drug use or reduce the amount of drugs they use, despite numerous attempts to do so. A loved one addicted to prescription drugs may frequently mention wanting to “get off” the drugs they’re using but have difficulty adhering to this commitment.
Quitting prescription drugs abruptly without gradually tapering off them is extremely risky, as this behavior can increase the risk of complications including seizures, mood disorders, and relapse—the latter of which can lead to a drug overdose.
A person who wants to stop using prescription drugs after becoming addicted should talk to their doctors about starting a tapering schedule or should consider seeking help at an accredited drug rehab center.
Drug Addiction Treatment with the Recovery Team
Contact The Recovery Team at (800) 817-1247 if you or a loved one needs help fighting and recovering from addiction, including addiction to prescription drugs. We can discuss all your available treatment options and help you experience a safe, long-term recovery from drug dependence and addiction.