Abusing prescription drugs is currently defined as an epidemic in the United States. They are dangerous because of how easy they are to obtain and because people tend to be under the misconception that because they are given by a doctor, they aren’t dangerous. This way of thinking leads to abuse, which can then cause addiction. Look for the common signs of prescription medication abuse to determine if someone you know might need extra help.
1. Short-Term Signs
The first set of signs for people abusing prescription drugs are the short-term signs. These are things you notice when someone is currently under the influence of the prescription meds. This includes a loss of appetite, high blood pressure or body temperature, increased heart rate, convulsions, seizures, nausea, poor sleep patterns, hallucinations, irritability, odd behavior and dilation of pupils. The exact symptoms will vary based on the type of prescription drugs being used.
2. Long-Term Signs
One thing people tend to think is that prescription drugs don’t have adverse health conditions, but continued use of them causes a wide range of long-term signs. This includes depression, psychosis, strokes or epilepsy, disorientation, malnutrition, extreme weight loss, liver or kidney damage, heart attacks, damage to the heart or brain, infectious diseases, respiratory problems, and psychological dependence.
3. Emotional & Psychological Signs
Prescription drug users also tend to show many of the same signs as other drugs do, in regards to psychological and emotional signs. Mood swings, irritability, depression and other mental disorders are very common among people starting to use and abuse prescription medications. It is not uncommon for prescription drug users to have dual diagnosis where their bipolar, anxiety or depression symptoms are exaggerated in combination with the prescription drugs.
4. Behavioral Signs
You should also pay attention to the difference in your friend’s behaviors, as this can tip you off to prescription drug use. Behavioral changes might include withdrawing from people and isolating themselves, becoming aggressive or hostile toward others, being defensive when asked about the prescription drugs used, being overly emotional and crying for no reason, extreme outbursts, and losing interest in activities.
5. Physical Signs
The physical signs of prescription drug use varies based on the types of drugs used. For example, stimulants can cause high blood pressure, weight loss, insomnia and irregular heartbeats, while sedatives cause drowsiness, confusion, poor judgment, dizziness and rapid ye movements. With pain killers, it includes constipation, poor coordination, sweating, confusion, low blood pressure and a lower breathing rate.
Prescription drug abuse happens for people who get them illegally, and legally from their doctor. Withdrawal symptoms may also indicate abuse of prescription drgs, which will occur about 48 hours after taking the last pill. These signs include everything from nausea to possible seizures. Look for signs of over-use or abuse to determine if your friend or loved one should be seeking professional help.