October 7, 2021

Recognizing the Signs of Prescription Medicine Abuse

Did you know that 82 percent, or four out of five, pharmacy-filled prescriptions are opioids? Or that 2 million Americans over the age of 12 (six percent) abuse prescriptions in a year?

The prescription drug epidemic is one of America's most pressing public health problems.

We want to help you learn to spot signs of prescription medicine abuse among friends, family members, coworkers and neighbors. If we can see the signs, we can help stop addiction before it starts!

Recognizing the signs in others

Complaining about vague symptoms and asserting they need more medication. A family member or friend may have been prescribed medicine some time ago but continue to talk about random symptoms to justify getting more drugs. To obtain the drug, they may engage in secretive or deceptive behavior. This may include asking to borrow money but giving a vague excuse for why. Or they may provide a questionable answer.

Mood swings and other behavioral changes, such as becoming hostile or irritable. Or acting extremely hyper or revved up one moment and then seeming sedated for unexplained reasons.

Withdrawal from friends, family and society, especially those who have noticed a change in the person's behavior or have expressed concerns that they may be misusing their prescription.

History of drug addiction. Your loved one may have a past with substance misuse and has developed a new reliance on a prescription drug.

Recognizing the signs in yourself

Continued use of the drug despite no longer feeling the symptom for which the medication was prescribed.

Lack of interest in other treatment options. Have you been made aware that there are alternatives to the drugs, but you insist on taking the pills?

Stealing prescriptions, forging them and other deceitful behavior. This includes finding yourself getting multiple medications from more than one doctor or buying them from unreliable sources.

Using prescription pills prescribed for others. Have you found yourself going into a family member's or friend's medicine cabinet to see what kind of pills they have? And have you taken any?

Unexplained flu-like symptoms such as joint and muscle aches, night sweats and insomnia that may be related to withdrawing from prescription medicine.

Using more than the recommended amount of medication. This happens when you've developed a high tolerance for the prescription medicine so that more pills are needed to achieve the desired effect.

Financial problems that are associated with having to buy more pills. You may have started to dip into your savings or borrow money that you don't know how to pay back to purchase more drugs.

Poor decision-making in general. Have you noticed that you haven't been practicing good judgment lately? Do you rely on prescription medicine to keep you focused?

Communicare offers an array of substance abuse prevention and treatment services. Should you have an emergency, please call 911, go to your nearest emergency room or call 1-866-837-7521 to be connected to Communicare’s mobile crisis team, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.