Prescription Drug Addiction Signs and Recovery

Drug Addiction | July 29 , 2020

Prescription Drug Addiction Signs

According to the National Institute for drug abuse, almost 8 percent of young Americans aged 12 to 17 admitted using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes in 2010. Other research has found that as many as 20 percent of adolescents say that they have taken a prescription drug that was not intended for them. These statistics are incredibly troubling to many families in the US.

For families who choose to react proactively to a prescription drug addiction crisis, the warning signs of drug abuse may be confounding and conflicting. How can narrow pupils and enlarged pupils both be signs of prescription drug addiction? Many people tend to be unaware that there are three primary types of commonly abused prescription drugs — opiates, sedatives, and stimulants, and each of these three categories of drugs displays different signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse. In order to understand the first signs of addiction, families need to familiarize themselves with the symptoms of opiate, sedative, and stimulant abuse.

Sedatives – Signs and Symptoms of Abuse

Sedatives include a wide range of medications with various functions, including drugs that treat sleeplessness, anxiety, and depression. These drugs include lorazepam (Ativan), diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), and alprazolam (Xanax). Signs of sedative misuse may include:

  • Cognitive symptoms such as memory loss, paranoia, and suicidal thoughts
  • Mood shift symptoms such as aggression, depression or agitation
  • Sleepiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of coordination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
Stimulants – Signs, and Symptoms of Abuse

Stimulants are generally prescribed in treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ( ADHD), and under these, Amphetamines such as Adderall and methylphenidate such as Ritalin and Concerta are the most common drugs. The short-term effects and symptoms of stimulants are:

  • High body temperature
  • Increased respiration
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Increased activity
  • Increased talkativeness
  • Mood symptoms such as hostility or paranoia, euphoria, heightened sense of well-being, unrealistic feelings of cleverness, great competence, and power
  • Dry mouth
  • Dilated pupils
  • Heightened alertness and energy
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Palpitations
  • Twitching of small muscles

Psychological and Behavioral Prescription Drug Addiction Signs

There are a few psychological warning signs of drug abuse that can manifest regardless of the drug of choice. These include confusing personality changes, sudden mood changes, irritability, angry outbursts, unusual hyperactivity or agitation, lack of focus, or anxiety, paranoia, and fearfulness.

Occasionally, addictive behaviors are the primary signs of prescription drug abuse, which can emerge regardless of the drug of choice. Behavioral signs of addiction include: excessive requests for prescription refills, stealing or borrowing prescription drugs from family members, taking prescriptions at higher doses, or taking them in ways that are not prescribed, such as snorting or injection.

If you notice any of these psychological and behavioral signs of prescription drug dependence in your loved one, do not hesitate to get help. Addiction to prescription drugs is a serious medical condition and may be life-threatening. Inform your primary care physician immediately and follow their treatment advice.

The Most Successful Prescription Drug Addiction Recovery Practices

A paper article published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, a peer-reviewed journal of prescription drug addiction articles, stresses out one well-known but rarely mentioned fact of recovery from prescription drug addiction: there is a gap between the latest research in addiction science and the actual practice of scientific discoveries in the field of addiction recovery.

Why is that important? Because, just like all fields of medicine, current, scientific, and evidence-based addiction medicines offer the best possible outcomes for addiction patients. There should be no double standard between what is required of drug addiction recovery practices and what is required of general health recovery practices.

Most addiction professionals obtain their knowledge and practices from other addictions professionals. While this is a useful way to learn, many of these practices have not been tested. This is understandable: no conclusive empirical studies have been conducted on some methods, such as the 12-step method. However, some of the practices passed down through addiction lore have been refuted for effectiveness. Practices based on a strictly behavioral pattern of addiction, for example, over-emphasize the behavioral changes by neglecting neurological factors and are unsuccessful.

Prescription Drug Addiction Recovery Involves Much More Than Physical Recovery

The health implications of prescription drug abuse are serious and require evidence-based treatment such as pharmacotherapy and medical treatment. Pharmacotherapy may increase the success of detoxification while minimizing discomfort and pain, and some drugs may prolong abstinence and reduce relapse rates. Additional medical care is also required, depending on the physical harm incurred by the drug dependency.

Beyond physical recovery, a person with a drug use disorder will also need lifestyle rehabilitation. For example, addiction is known to cause a major negative effect on familial and marital health. Cognitive-behavioral therapy has been used effectively in couple counseling for decades, and yet only 4 percent of drug abuse treatment facilities report using this proven method in treatment.