Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction
Prescription medications are effective treatments when used as prescribed and by the person for whom they were intended. Although many medications can be abused, the most commonly abused are Opioids, Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants, and Stimulants, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prescription drugs are often diverted to other individuals who consume them through a variety of methods to get “high”. Once a tolerance develops, the person may become dependent on the drugs, either psychologically or physically, and they suffer adverse effects of withdrawals when they try to discontinue use. The continued use, despite negative consequences, is known as a prescription drug addiction.
Commonly Abused Prescriptions Drugs
Prescription painkillers are powerful drugs that reduce pain. They are the most widely abused drugs because most prescription painkillers contain an opioid substance which is highly addictive and while potencies vary, they are similar to heroin, morphine, or opium. The “high” produced is followed by a sedative effect and pain relief. Some prescription painkillers are synthetic and mimic opioid painkiller effects but they can be just as dangerous such as Fentenyl.
CNS depressants are used to treat sleep disorders, anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and stress disorders such as Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They slow brain activity or have a sedative effect. Benzodiazepines, such as diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax), are high on the list for abuse of these types of drugs.
Prescription stimulants cause increased action in the neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine and contain amphetamines which have a high potential for abuse and possible dependency. These medications are in the same class of drugs as cocaine and methamphetamine (“meth”) under the Controlled Substances Act. They increase alertness, energy, and attention. And are used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Narcolepsy.
Signs of Addiction
The risks for addiction increases when prescription drugs are used in ways other than as prescribed, higher dosages, more frequently, by different routes of administration, or combined with alcohol or other drugs. Certain behaviors, when associated with the abuse of prescription drugs, can indicate signs of prescription drug addiction including:
- Using drugs without a prescription or recreationally
- Obsessed over using
- Suffered physical or psychological problems
- Exhibit irrational behaviors or mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, aggression, agitation, excitement, insomnia for no apparent reson
- Engaged in unwanted, unmoral, or dishonorable activities while using drugs
- Developed a tolerance or dependency
- Obsessed over using
- Compulsive use despite negative consequences
- Relapsed after attempting to quit
- Overdosed on drugs
- Fraudulently obtained drugs by lying to doctors, through forgery, or “doctor shopping”
- Stealing drugs
- Suffered financial, legal, social, or employment hardships