Am I Abusing My Prescription Drugs?
For many experts, prescription drug abuse and addiction represent the next great American health crisis. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.5 million Americans reported being current nonmedical use of prescription-type drugs in 2014. Furthermore, 10.7 million Americans reported using prescription pain relievers in a nonmedical fashion at least once the year prior.
Looking over previous years’ reports suggests that these numbers aren’t a fluke, meaning prescription drug abuse isn’t slowing anytime soon.
Unfortunately, one of the main reasons that prescription drug abuse (and addiction) has become so prevalent is because it can be very difficult for individuals to identify when their prescription drug use becomes problematic. It’s easy to forget – or never have been aware – that something prescribed by a doctor may have a high potential for dependence.
Commonly abused prescription drugs include:
- Stimulants: Drugs such as Ritalin, Adderall and Dexedrine are commonly prescribed to treat behavioral and sleep disorders.
- Opioids: OxyContin, Vicodin and other opiate-based prescription drugs are among the most widely abused (and potentially addictive) substances in America.
- Sedatives: Anxiety medications such as Xanax, Valium and Ambien are commonly abused recreationally.
Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse
Prescription drug abuse is typically a very gradual and subtle process. A small miscommunication between doctor and patient, for example, can lead to the patient taking a larger dose of his or her medication than suggested. As a result, the patient can develop a tolerance to the drug more quickly than intended and need a larger dose to achieve the same effects as before – a pattern that inevitably ramps up to full-on abuse.
Consider the following questions if you fear that your prescription drug use has gotten out of hand:
- Have I lied to my doctor about how often I take my medication?
- Do I find myself getting anxious when my prescription is about to end?
- Have I ever taken a prescription pill that wasn’t prescribed to me?
- Do I travel to multiple doctors and pharmacies to make sure my prescription stays full?
- Has my weight or sleeping patterns changed considerably since starting my prescription?
- Do I ever feel tempted to crush and snort my medication?
- Have my friends expressed concern over how often I take my prescription?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then you may want to strongly consider the possibility that your prescription drug use has become unhealthy. Seek help and support immediately before the problem escalates into full-blown addiction.
When Abuse Becomes Addiction
Prescription drug addiction occurs when the individual’s substance abuse habits are replaced with a physical and psychological dependence. In addition to experiencing a more destructive relationship with prescription drugs, individuals struggling with addiction are also a much higher risk for experiencing a fatal overdose.
Ask yourself the following questions to determine if your substance abuse habits have evolved into a dangerous addiction:
- Do I find myself experiencing painful withdrawal symptoms if I don’t take my medication?
- Have I repeatedly upped my dosage in an attempt to avoid withdrawal?
- Do I mix my medication with other substances in order to manage my symptoms?
- Has my prescription drug use caused me to neglect my personal responsibilities?
- Does my prescription drug use have a negative impact on my work performance?
These are just a few of the troubling behavioral patterns that characterize addiction to prescription drugs. If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then you should reach out to friends or family for help with getting treatment.
Treatment for Prescription Drug Abuse
The most commonly abused prescription drugs carry with them the most extreme withdrawal symptoms. That’s why it’s so important for individuals struggling with prescription drug addiction to seek a rehabilitation center that can provide medically guided detox.
Get in touch with The Treatment Center of the Palm Beaches if you or a loved one is struggling with prescription drug abuse. We are available 24/7 at (866) 295-6003 and we’re ready to give you the help you need.
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