For Users

Is it dangerous to take more than I was prescribed?

Yes, like with misusing most things, even if it is prescribed by a medical provider, it can be dangerous. Prescription drugs can be safe when used as directed and for a short time. It becomes a problem when you misuse the medication. The misuse of the prescription can include taking it in another way not instructed, taking another person’s medication, or taking the medication to get high.

People who misuse prescription opioids can overdose on them. This is one of the reasons they can be dangerous. Opioids, although they can be prescribed, can be extremely addictive. Some people may believe prescribed opioids cannot cause such life-threatening risks but they can. People can experience slow, shallow breathing during an overdose, and when not treated someone can die from an overdose.

If you are suffering from substance addiction, you are not alone. Please, call us at 405-583-4309.

What are some common prescription drugs that are abused?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, some common prescription opioids include hydrocodone, oxycodone, oxymorphone, morphine, codeine, and fentanyl.

Although an opioid can be prescribed to you by a medical provider, they must be taken as instructed, or they can be dangerous.

How do I know if I have a problem with Rx drugs?

Depending on the type of prescription drug, the signs and symptoms may vary. You may have a problem with opioids without knowing, so it is important to know the signs and symptoms to look for.

Symptoms for prescription opioid abuse:

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Euphoria or high
  • Breathing slowly
  • Drowsy
  • Confused
  • Poor coordination
  • The amount required for pain relief increases
  • With higher doses, sensitivity to pain increases

Symptoms of anti-anxiety medication and sedatives include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Walking unsteadily
  • Issues with speaking correctly
  • Troubles with concentrating
  • Slowed breathing

Stimulants can cause:

  • Feeling high
  • Anxiety
  • Increased alertness
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Issues with sleeping
  • Paranoia
  • Agitation
  • Irregular heartbeat

Additional signs of abusing prescription drugs include:

  • Desperation to get the drug by stealing or forging
  • Selling prescriptions
  • Misusing the prescribed drug
  • Change in sleep
  • Mood swings or hostility
  • Unusual behavior such as over-energetic or appearing high
  • Problems with decision-making
  • Seeking drugs through a variety of ways to receive more

Can I detox from prescription drugs?

Yes, you can detox from prescription drugs. In treatment, the first step in most programs is detoxification. This process allows the person’s body to detox from any harmful and toxic substance still in their system. Detox is an essential step in the path to recovery because it removes the effects the drug can still have on your mental abilities, and this step can help you stay committed to the program. Detoxing at a treatment center can help you get through withdrawal symptoms more effectively. These symptoms can include depression, anxiety, other mood disorders, along with nausea, fatigue, headaches, and more. Depending on the type of detox, you can also be given medicine to ease the symptoms, or social support.

Addiction treatment is not one-size-fits-all. What can work for one person may not work for everyone. Each person is different, so what matters is finding what works for you and how severe your addiction is. For some people, it can work to quit cold turkey, where they stop using the drug on their own. Some with mild addiction may benefit from counseling and therapy or a short-term program. For moderate to severe cases, the person can participate in a long-term program, where they can detox under professional supervision along with completing other services. Additionally, in a long-term rehabilitation program, the patient can acquire many skills to not only get through the program but to help them in their everyday life to continue their sobriety.

What long term damages can result from abusing prescription drugs?

Prescription drug abuse can come with a variety of risks and damages to a person. It can have medical, physical, and a number of other consequences.

Medical consequences include:

  • The misuse of prescription drugs can cause low blood pressure, issues with breathing normally, a coma, and overdose which can potentially lead to death.
  • Sedatives and anti-anxiety medications can also cause breathing problems, low blood pressure, as well as problems with your memory. These medications can lead to an overdose which can cause a coma or death.
  • Stimulants can also lead to heart issues, along with high body temperatures, high blood pressure, seizures, hallucinations, and other problems.

Physical consequences:

  • Prescription drugs can cause the user to become physically dependent and addicted to them.
  • Physical dependence or tolerance to the drug can come from long-term use of the drug. When the person is dependent on the drug, they can have withdrawal symptoms when they quit the drug. They may also need a larger amount of drugs to get a similar result or pain relief as before.
  • Misusing prescription drugs can lead to addiction. Some people may not realize that these drugs can get addictive when using them for a long period. The person will seek out these drugs even after their prescription is finished because they develop a dependency on them. Some may use them until they notice the serious health risks or until it is too late.

Additional consequences of abusing prescription drugs:

– With abusing prescription drugs, people can engage in risky, sometimes criminal behaviors, get into accidents, have issues in their relationship, and lack of other responsibilities. The person can also seek out other illegal or recreational drugs which can add even more risks.

For Loved Ones

What are the signs of abusing prescription drugs?

A person who abuses prescription can show a variety of signs and some might not show many at all. If you notice a sudden change in your loved one, make sure to monitor them or get them help as needed.

Physical signs can include:

  • A change in their eyes, whether they appear bloodshot or the size of the pupil gets larger or smaller
  • A change in appetite or sleep occurs
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Change in physical appearance and lack of personal grooming
  • Breath, body, or clothing smell differently
  • Issues with speech or impaired coordination

Behavioral signs:

  • Constantly missing or underperforming at school or work
  • Sudden financial issues and having to borrow or steal
  • Behaving suspiciously
  • Change in friends, hobbies or hangouts
  • Participating in fights, illegal activities or getting into other trouble

Psychological signs:

  • Change in attitude or personality
  • Irritable or has mood swings
  • Unusual and unexpected hyperactivity, giddiness or agitation
  • Lack of motivation
  • Anxious, paranoid or scared

Additional warning signs:

  • Prescription opioids, such as painkillers, can cause drooping eyes, constricted pupils, itching or flushing, trouble speaking, lack of energy, and other similar behaviors.
  • Anti-anxiety medications, sedatives, and hypnotics can cause the person to breathe slowly, contract pupils, concentration difficulties, clumsiness, etc.
  • Stimulants can cause dilated pupils, insomnia, paranoia, reduced appetite, anxiety, irregular heartbeat, agitation, and high body temperature.

I think my loved one stole some of my prescriptions, what do I do?

If you suspect your loved one has stolen your prescription drugs, it might be best to speak with them and figure out why, to try to help them. Oftentimes, people with drug issues tend to steal when they have no other option or way to get the addictive substance. Stealing from a family member or friend might be easier than seeking drugs on the street or elsewhere. If you find them stealing from you, it could be for many different reasons. The person could be trying the drug for the first time, not know exactly what it is, or have a serious issue abusing it. Therefore, it can help both of you to find out the truth. When approached with something like this, the user might be embarrassed or defensive. They might turn to use excuses to avoid telling you the truth or to end the conversation.

It can help to approach them as soon as you notice the drugs missing; it catches them off guard and makes them admit to it sooner. This can also stop them before they use the drug and might lead them to see the importance of getting help. However, if you do notice they are under the influence, it is best to not have the conversation for your safety. When approaching your loved one, try to show your love and concern for them. Be honest with them and tell how you feel about them misusing your prescription drugs, as well as sharing your concern for their health. Having this conversation can make a big difference in a person’s life. They can also see that they have a good support system to lean on during the whole recovery process.

How can I convince my loved one to seek help?

Although you may see the red signs that your loved one has a substance issue, they might not see it themselves. It is important to talk to the person and voice your thoughts and feelings. It can be helpful if they are thinking about quitting and can acknowledge the issue as well. You should aim to be empathetic and caring so they know you are coming from a good place. Try to stay calm even if they react defensively. You can suggest possible options for addiction treatment and offer to participate in family therapy with them if that is what they want.

You should try to avoid talking to the person in public or when they are under the influence. You should not use blame or judgment to approach the person because the person might already be feeling bad about you knowing their issue. You can try to be accepting and keep an open mind. Try your best to not be confrontational or aggressive towards the person. You want to make sure your loved one feels safe so you can help them get the help they need.

What are the best treatment options for someone addicted to prescription drugs?

Treatment may vary at each location and facility, but they have some similarities. Depending on the severity of the addiction, you can choose the length of the treatment and whether you want to participate in an inpatient or outpatient program. Short-term programs are common for patients with mild addictions, while long-term programs work best for moderate to severe. If the person chooses inpatient, then they can live at the facility where they get treated and receive 24-hour medical assistance. In an outpatient program, a patient can live at home and attend the facility for treatment. Most programs start with a detox, so the patient can withdrawal from the drug and have a clear mind during treatment.

Patients can also participate in counseling or therapy at the treatment facility or somewhere else. A few types of therapy include group, individual, behavioral, and psychotherapy. In therapy, the focus is on helping the patient understand what leads them to the addictive substance and how to better deal with it. Therapy also assists with other aspects of the person’s life, such as relationships, so that they can succeed in life without drugs.

Why have prescription drugs become so widely misused in the US?

Prescription drugs started to be supplied to medical providers by pharmaceutic companies around 1990. At first, these companies assured people that these drugs were perfectly safe and not addictive. Soon after, this claim was proven false but the opioids crisis had already begun with many people overdosing on these drugs. The misuse of prescription opioids is a huge issue in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 18 million people in the country reported that they misused prescription medicine in 2017.

People may turn to abusing prescription drugs for various reasons and depending on their age. Although, for many, these kinds of drugs can be more accessible than others. They can be obtained through a medical provider, therefore some may not see the risks in using these drugs. Some people may not understand the addictive properties involved with prescription opioids, but they can have similar effects to any other drug.

If you or a loved one suffer from addiction, treatment and help are available. Please, call us at 405-583-4309, we are here for you.

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