Menu Close

Recognizing Prescription Drug Abuse

a list of prescription pill bottles in a medicine cabinet representing prescription drug abuse

Prescription drug abuse is defined as using prescription medication in any way other than how the doctor prescribed it. Taking larger or more frequent doses, even if you feel it is better for managing your condition, would be considered abuse. The danger of prescription drug abuse is that it can easily lead to addiction and dependence. If you or someone you care about needs prescription drug rehab in Nebraska, call Northpoint Omaha today at 888.687.8014.

Understanding Prescription Drug Abuse

The abuse of prescription drugs is a growing problem in the U.S. Young adults, the elderly, and all groups in between are using and abusing more prescription medications today than in the past.

According to Drug Abuse Statistics, roughly 16 million people over the age of 12 abuse prescription medications every year, and it’s estimated that 12% of them are addicted.

Recognizing the problem in yourself or someone else isn’t always easy, especially considering that medications are prescribed for legitimate health reasons. Some medicines cause side effects like dizziness or sleepiness even when used correctly.

However, the assumption that medications are safe because a doctor prescribes them doesn’t always hold true. People who abuse their medications may use illicit means to get more or combine medications with alcohol or other drugs to enhance their effects.

If you are worried about your use of prescription medications or the use of a loved one, don’t wait to seek help. Speak with your doctor or mental health professional.

Abusing medications puts individuals at risk for a variety of health problems, including:

  • Memory loss
  • Loss of coordination and increased risk of falls or accidents
  • Mental health concerns, such as paranoia, anxiety, and depression
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • Heart irregularities
  • Depressed breathing and respiratory issues
  • Addiction

People with certain pre-existing mental health conditions or a family history of substance use disorders are at higher risk for developing long-term problems associated with medication abuse.

Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse

The symptoms a person experiences can vary according to which medication they are abusing. However, there are general signs to look out for in a person. Symptoms of the most commonly abused prescription drugs include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Doctor “shopping” (finding new doctors to prescribe medication)
  • Constantly talking about their medications, worrying they will run out, or being hyper-focused on their next doctor’s appointment
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleep patterns (insomnia or sleeping all the time)
  • Constipation
  • Confusion
  • Frequently “losing” pills or accusing others of stealing their medications
  • Feeling high/euphoric
  • Increased alertness and energy

People who are abusing medications may also isolate themselves. Withdrawing from activities they once enjoyed or avoiding friends and family is common.

The Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Any medication can be abused, but those that provide a deep feeling of relaxation, euphoria, or an increase in energy are the most likely to be misused. The National Institute on Drug Abuse lists the most commonly abused prescription drugs as follows:

  • Painkillers (including all types of opioids)
  • Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax and Valium
  • Sedatives, sleeping medications
  • Stimulants, such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine
  • Barbiturates, such as Nembutal

Many prescription medications are highly addictive. Even when used correctly, they carry a risk of addiction. Misusing them increases that risk and the risk of experiencing unwanted side effects.

Northpoint Omaha Offers a Prescription Drug Rehab Program

If you are struggling with chronic pain or other health conditions, you may worry that giving up your prescription medication means living in pain. Abusing meds can lower your tolerance for pain and make you feel worse in the long run.

Contact Northpoint Omaha today at 888.687.8014 for more information about prescription drug abuse and our rehab programs.