It’s not a secret that America’s drug epidemic doesn’t just involve illegal drugs, but also the huge crisis in the addiction of prescription drugs.
In particular, painkillers or opioids on prescription have become a desirable staple in people’s lives. These drugs are used for a variety of reasons, from chronic pain and sleep relief to depression or medication.
The amount taken can also range from taking one for mild pain relief to snorting them to get high. Regardless of age, gender or background, prescription drugs can lead to misuse and serious health issues.
In general, people start using them as they believe them to be safe and legal, but it’s vital to familiarize yourself with what can happen when someone becomes addicted to prescription pills.
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What are prescription drugs?
In contrast to illicit drugs, these prescribed drugs are only available with a prescription written by a licensed medical professional such as a doctor or dentist. Essentially, they fall into three main categories: stimulants (Adderall or Ritalin); opioids (Codeine, Fentanyl); or anxiety or sleep medications (Valium, Xanax).
But how can you tell if you, or someone you care about, has an addiction to prescription drugs? Here are five tell-tale signs to look out for.
1. Isolating from Family and Friends
If people are addicted to any prescription drugs, they’re likely to hide it from the people they’re closest to. This could be down to their embarrassment or them feeling ashamed of their addiction.
They often prioritize their drug habits over their personal relationships, spurred on by the desire to cut themselves off from a positive support system. Whether it’s Codeine, Valium or a Lortab addiction, the best thing to do is to encourage the user to break free from isolation so they feel more secure.
2. Erratic and unusual behavior
Mood swings and unusual behavior is one of the most obvious tell-tale signs of prescription drug abuse. Maybe they are spaced out, unable to concentrate on something for any length of time or show unreliability in their daily lives.
For example, having taken pills, they could be happy and more carefree with their attitude. In contrast, if they haven’t got enough pills or are coming down from them, they could suddenly change into a withdrawn, sullen or irritable person.
3. In denial and defensive
Most prescription drug addicts initially take pills for a specific reason. For example, headaches, injury pain or sleepless nights.
However, over time, the urge to increase the amount of pills takes over and they seek higher doses. At this point, it’s likely that they’ll hide the seriousness of their problem and deny their addiction; either because they don’t think they have a problem or that they have it under control. If confronted by their addiction, they can get defensive and possibly show anger at people close to them.
4. Seek pills elsewhere
It’s very possible a pill addict might lie about lost prescriptions in which case, it increases the likelihood of them going ‘doctor shopping’.
This could involve visiting doctors who have a reputation of overprescribing, looking for a new doctor or lying to different doctors using different stories to get extra pills.
Similarly, they might rifle through a medicine cabinet, steal other prescriptions or even worse, go looking on the streets to buy pills.
5. Change in appearance
This may seem like an overt symptom but pill addicts can try to disguise the physical attributes of their addiction; for example, through their eating habits. In general, however, sudden loss of weight, looking unkempt or unhealthy can also morph over time.
In addition, stimulants can cause dilated pupils while opioids result in the constriction of pupils. Alternatively, bloodshot or glassy eyes and under eye bags are also usually a tell-tale physical sign of pill addiction when someone is high.
Seeking advice and help
Being aware of as many symptoms or signs of a prescription drug addict can result in saving a life so seek help and advice immediately.
Although it may be a difficult and confrontational conversation to have with someone who has a pill addiction, perseverance and support is key to them agreeing to get treatment from a professional.
The majority of pill addicts don’t go looking to get addicted, rather they take prescribed drugs to manage pain or any other problem. When this leads to having an unhealthy approach to taking painkillers, look out for the warning signs – early intervention is likely to avoid serious issues further down the line and, as a result, will make it easier to overcome a pill addiction.