Prescription abuse is the use of professionally prescribed medications in a way not recommended by the specialists. You may catch it by taking a friend’s medication or snorting/injecting pills to feel high. Despite serious side effects individuals often end up developing medication abuse. All age groups are equally affected by it. Therefore, it is considered to be a serious problem that mostly occurs when individuals misuse or abuse their own prescription. Or when they take other people’s prescriptions without using a pill reminder app.
The commonly abused meds incorporate opioid painkillers, sedatives, anti-anxiety meds, and stimulants. A great way to avoid addiction is the early identification of the abuse.
What Are The Most Commonly Abused Drugs
The signs and symptoms of prescribed drug abuse depend on the specific drug. Here we have given a small rundown of most commonly mishandled medications which include:
- Opioid painkillers which contain ingredients like Oxycodone or Hydrocodone. Both the ingredients help relieve the pain. Some of the common opioid examples are Oxycontin, Percocet, and Norco.
- Anti-anxiety medications such as alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and hypnotics like zolpidem treat anxiety/insomnia and are often abused by the patients of these disorders.
- Stimulants such as Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall XR, Mydayis, etc. treat ADHD and certain sleep disorders and are abused by those carrying those disorders.
Also, the long-term utilization of these drugs can result in a number of issues. In case an individual may develop a tolerance for the medication, they will gradually need to increase the dosage to control their pain, anxiety, or other health problems. They may also feel happy, euphoric, or relaxed while on meds. To maintain this effect, they may begin to abuse the medication — by taking it in more than the recommended amount and during unusual hours of the day. Consequently, a severe addiction leading to serious health damage may occur.
Signs & Symptoms
Identifying drug abuse in elders is far more difficult than it is in teens. This is because addiction leaves younger people unable to fulfill their work as well as family commitments, making it quite simple to notice. On the other hand, older adults hardly have those commitments, which makes it extremely to recognize the signs.
In case you see these symptoms in someone, chances are they are a victim of drug abuse:
- Frequent falls
- Unexplained bruises
- Nausea and loss of appetite
- Deterioration of physical appearance
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Change in sleep patterns
- Impaired coordination
- Slurred speech
- Becoming defensive or agitated
Also, the following behavioral clues may help you identify drug abuse in someone may include:
- Purchasing the same prescription from different medical stores
- Using multiple pharmacies to fill prescriptions
- Refusing to go anywhere without meds
- Sneaking or hiding their meds
What Can You Do for Them?
By learning to identify the symptoms, you can help prevent their further growth. In case a friend or family member of yours is showing those signs, inform their doctor immediately. So that the doctor can determine the problem and establish an effective treatment plan.
Also, you can help your loved ones manage their medications by:
- Making a list of medicines they take
- Knowing why they take them
- Making sure they take the right amount
- Helping them get off prescription drugs and switch to OTC medicines
- Looking for other treatment options like physical therapy or exercise
- Reminding them to stay off alcohol when taking meds
- Properly discarding medicines once they are no longer needed
- Using a pill tracker app to avoid overdoses/untimely doses
When to See a Doctor?
Have you talked to your specialist about developing a drug addiction? If not, do it now. While discussing it might feel a little embarrassing — remember that doctors are there to help you, not judge you. Beside, it’s easier to tackle the issue in time than delaying the treatment which may cause serious health damage.
What Are The Causes?
While we grow older, our physical and emotional changes become more apparent and these changes often lead to boredom, anxiety, depression, health concerns, chronic pain, etc.
Therefore, individuals feel the need to use prescription meds. But they end up developing an addiction.
People also use these drugs to:
- Feel good or get high
- Relieve tension
- Reduce appetite
- Increase alertness
- Experiment the effects
- Prevent withdrawal
- Improve academic or work performance
What Are The Risk Factors?
Though there is a high risk of developing an addiction to prescription meds, you can simply reduce it by following your doctor’s instructions. Some common risk factors for drug abuse include:
- Past or present substance addictions
- Family history of drug abuse
- Certain pre-existing psychiatric conditions
- Exposure to a social environment where there’s drug use
- Easier access to prescription drugs, such as acquiring them from friends or having them in the home
- Lack of knowledge about their potential harm
Complications with Prescription Abuse
Additionally, prescription abuse can result in serious health complications. They can be extremely dangerous and even lead to death when taken without care. A little ignorance, such as taking high doses, combining them with other medications, or taking them with alcohol/other recreational drugs can also result in serious health damage.
Following are some examples of drug abuse side effects:
Opioids can cause:
- Low blood pressure
- Slow breathing or may even cause it to stop
- Death in case of overdose
Anti-anxiety meds and sedatives can cause:
- Memory problems
- Low blood pressure
- Slow breathing
- Coma or even death in case of overdose
- Withdrawal symptoms if stopped abruptly, resulting in nervous system hyperactivity and seizures.
Stimulants can cause:
- Dangerously high body temperature
- Heart problems
- High blood pressure
- Seizures or tremors
How to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse?
Following are some of the effective ways to you can prevent the prescription drug abuse:
- Discuss the dangers and emphasize to individuals that using prescription drugs is not safe — especially if they are not prescribed by a specialist.
- Let your loved ones know that sharing medications with others or taking drugs from others without doctor’s permission is not safe.
- use a medication reminder app to keep track of your loved one’s medical history and to avoid overdoses.
- Keep the prescription drugs in a safe place such as the locked medicine cabinet and properly dispose them of.