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prescription drug abuse

Warning Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

Many prescription drugs have a high potential for misuse, even when taken under a doctor’s direction. The prevalence of drugs such as opioids – plus the fact that pharmaceutical companies misleadingly marketed them as safe and non-addictive – has caused a heartbreakingly widespread epidemic of prescription drug addiction from coast to coast.

Commonly misused prescription drugs include opioid painkillers, as well as stimulants, sedatives and anti-anxiety medications. Prescription drug abuse has affected millions of Americans from all races, backgrounds, gender identities and ages. Learning to identify some of the red flags of prescription drug abuse in yourself or someone you care about can allow earlier intervention and treatment before an addiction begins to take hold.

What Are the Most Addictive Prescription Drugs?

Medications with the greatest potential for abuse include the following.

  • Opioids: Doctors may prescribe these drugs, which derive from the opium poppy, to help manage pain. You may recognize them better by brand names such as Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin. It’s possible to develop a physical dependency on opioids after only a few weeks of use.  
  • Sedatives: Medications such as Valium, Xanax and Ambien can help manage the symptoms of anxiety and sleep disorders. However, people can begin building a tolerance to these drugs relatively quickly.
  • Stimulants: Children and adults who have received a diagnosis of ADHD often get prescribed drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall to help them focus. Abuse of prescription stimulants can cause an addiction, especially in young adults whose brains are still developing. Other than marijuana, amphetamines are the most misused drugs by college students.

Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse

If you or someone in your household regularly takes any of these medications and you are worried about the possibility of addiction, knowing what to look for can be life-changing because it can enable you to seek treatment sooner.

  • Deliberately ignoring a doctor’s specific directions for how to safely take a prescription medication: Examples of this issue include taking higher doses than recommended, stealing someone else’s prescribed medicine or snorting or injecting ground-up pills to get high.
  • Being secretive or deceitful: As an addiction worsens, people may try to hide their drug use by sneaking around or lying to those around them. They might also lie to their doctor about how much they’re using, forge prescriptions, seek prescriptions from more than one physician or claim that they’ve lost their medication in hopes of getting another refill.
  • Tolerance: In this case, the term “tolerance” refers to needing higher doses of the drug to achieve the desired effects.
  • Marked behavioral changes: Addicts may lose interest in previously enjoyable activities. They may also experience a disrupted sleep schedule, mood swings and irritability as side effects of their prescription drug abuse. Appearing to be unusually energetic or sedated are also observable changes to note.

How to Get Help

The symptoms of prescription drug abuse can be dangerous and even life-threatening, so it’s essential to get qualified addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one. At Vista Taos, we provide medically supervised detox to help manage risky and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and ensure your body is free of harmful chemicals before moving on to the next phases of rehabilitation. Contact us today to learn more about our holistic treatment program in Taos, New Mexico.

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