ADDICTION TREATMENT CENTER

A Closer Look - Understanding Prescription Drug Addiction

By:
theohanahawaii
November 16, 2021

Whether you are given painkillers for an injury or anti-anxiety medication to calm your nerves, you may find yourself relying more and more on prescription medication. However, knowing the line between regular usage and prescription medication addiction is tricky.

What exactly is prescription drug addiction and how can you get help?

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one, we're here for you. Here is a brief but complete overview to help you understand prescription drug addiction.

How Drug Addiction Starts

Prescription drug addiction can start off differently than alcohol addiction or addiction to other types of drugs. Most often, a patient will be prescribed a small amount of medication to help with an ailment; however, sometimes the individual becomes reliant on the effects of the medication. For example, certain prescription drugs can stimulate a high sensation or relieve stress.

In some instances, an individual may see a family member or friend using prescription medication and are tempted to take it themselves. Peer pressure can result in the development of addictions.

Once someone becomes reliant on prescription medication, an unhealthy habit of taking the medication begins. It's relatively simple to get most types of prescription medication. With a computer and a credit card, it's possible to find many types of medications online.

Opioid painkillers, anti-depressants, stimulants, and sedatives are among the most abused prescription medications. Each type of medication comes with its own risks and symptoms. It's crucial to identify and stop these addictions early on to avoid serious complications.

Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

As each type of medication interacts with the body and brain differently, you can expect different symptoms from different prescriptions. Here are some of the most common symptoms to watch out for.

Opioids

Opioids are commonly used to treat pain in patients. However, in high quantities, they can cause problems in the digestive system and nervous system. 

You may begin to experience nausea and constipation if you use too many opioids. They can also create a sense of euphoria, or high, in large quantities. 

Confusion, dizziness, loss of coordination, and drowsiness are all common symptoms of opioid abuse. You may also experience a heightened sensitivity to pain with high quantities of opioids.

A major concern with opioid addiction is that the more often you take them, the more you will need to take to feel any pain relief. This increases the damage caused by the medication, putting you at further risk for complications.

Anti-Anxiety Medication and Sedatives

Anxi-anxiety medication and sedatives typically affect only the nervous system. You can expect drowsiness, dizziness, poor coordination, and concentration from someone suffering from an addiction. Slurred speech and memory issues are also problems caused by the overuse of these medications.

Stimulants

Stimulants can be used to treat ADHD and certain sleep disorders, though overuse of them can cause circulatory and respiratory issues. Anxiety, paranoia, and insomnia are common reactions to stimulant addiction.

Too many stimulants cause the heart rate to increase, sometimes resulting in an irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and increased alertness. You may also experience an increase in your body temperature.

Risks Involved with Prescription Drug Abuse

Aside from the usual symptoms involved with prescription drug abuse, but depending on the length of time you continue to use prescription medications, the symptoms can worsen significantly. Your body may also develop a tolerance to the medications, requiring you to use more in order to feel the same effects.

Opioids can cause serious heart problems and difficulty breathing. An opioid overdose can also lead an individual to fall into a coma.

Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives can cause low blood pressure and slowed breathing. Memory problems are common due to prolonged use of these medications. Cutting yourself off of these medications can lead to withdrawal symptoms, including seizures.

Overuse of stimulants can lead to an elevated heart rate, dangerously high body temperatures, seizures, paranoia, hallucinations, and aggressiveness. 

Overdosing is a serious risk when taking prescription medications. Opioids, stimulants, anti-anxiety medications, and sedatives can all cause death in extreme cases.

Prescription medications can also interact with each other and other substances you are taking, including supplements and over-the-counter medications. Without the proper information on the prescription medication you are using, you could be endangering yourself. Always let your doctor know about any other substances you use before getting any prescription medication! 

Risk Factors

There are some factors that may make you more susceptible to developing a prescription drug addiction. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Prior addictions to drugs, alcohol, or other substances

  • Peer or familial pressures

  • Family history of substance abuse

  • Pre-existing conditions

  • Easy access to prescription medications, such as a family member with a prescription in the home

  • Lack of information about the prescription drugs you are using

While none of these factors guarantee you will develop an addiction, they do show you are at a higher risk. Make sure you talk with your doctor extensively about prescription medications before picking up your medication.  

Stop Drug Addiction Before You're Too Late

Prescription drug addiction doesn't have to take control of your life. Knowing the signs and symptoms of drug addiction can help you break the cycle and get the drug addiction help you need. Remember to always talk to your doctor about any new prescriptions in detail and read the instructions on your medications before taking them!

Are you suffering from drug addiction and you need help recovering?

We're here to help. Contact us with any questions or concerns you have about our drug rehabilitation services and continue reading our blog for more helpful information today.

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