Imagine you’re standing in line at a local coffee shop for your morning latte and the woman with a small child in front of you pulls out a bag of cocaine and proceeds to bump a line off the nearest table. Would you be shocked? Alarmed? Look for the nearest exit? Call the police?
Now imagine the same situation – you’re at the local coffee shop and the same woman with a child pulls out a small orange prescription pill bottle, pours one or two in her hand and takes the pills down with a little swig of water. Would you have the same reaction?
In fact, if you’re like most people, you might not even think twice about that behavior. After all, doing cocaine is illegal. It’s not normal to see cocaine in busy, public settings. Swallowing a prescription pill with your name on the bottle, however, is legal – and extremely common.
So common that the U.S. Center for Disease Controls and Prevention estimates that almost half of the U.S. population uses at least one prescription drug each month – and 1 in 5 Americans use three or more prescription drugs every month. That little orange bottle with the white cap and label isn’t an alarming sight. The average American views taking prescription drugs as perfectly normal and acceptable behavior.
While the statistics from the C.D.C. include various types of prescriptions – many of which are used to gain control over very serious medical conditions – there are many people who take prescription opioids and benzos such as Vicodin, Xanax, or OxyContin for recreational purposes.
With roughly 1 out of every 5 people in the United States – or 48 million Americans – using prescription drugs for recreational purposes, it’s crucial to know what signs of addiction you can look for in your loved one if you suspect they may be abusing prescription drugs.
- Ongoing Use and Usage Increase. When taking prescription medications, over time, it is common for people to grow tolerant of the effects of their prescribed dosage. Your loved one may talk about how they are “still feeling pain” or need “just a little longer” on the medication in order to get well. They may blame the doctors who refuse to write another prescription or up the dosage. If your loved one continues to use their prescription drug after a medical condition has improved, needs an extension of their prescription, or increases their dosage over time, it is an indication they may be addicted to the prescribed drug.
- Change in Personality. Prescription drugs often times cause changes in a person’s behavior or personality. For example, people who abuse benzos such as Valium may have slower reaction times, or be drowsy and confused most of the time. People who abuse stimulants such as Adderall may become more easily agitated and irritable. Because your loved one is most going to great lengths to hide their problem with prescription drugs, they may demand more privacy, be more secretive, keep odd hours, and withdraw from normal family activities. They may become defensive if they feel their secret is being discovered and may even react to simple questions by lashing out. Conversations that seem reasonable may quickly turn to emotional. And although some of these signs may be subtle, they can be noticeable and deeply troubling for family members.
- Spending Time Obtaining Prescriptions. A person dependent on prescription medications will often spend large amounts of time (and money) to obtain oxycodone, hydrocodone, or other drugs. From driving long distances, visiting multiple doctors, or frequenting websites to order prescriptions, an addicted loved one may seem preoccupied with a quest for medication, and demonstrate that the drugs have become their top priority.
Are You or a Loved One Struggling with Prescription Drug Addiction? Call (615) 208-2941
- Problems at Work. Missing deadlines, making mistakes, and getting into arguments with co-workers are not likely typical of your loved one. However, if they are abusing a prescription drug and taking high dosages of their drug of choice, they may be impaired all day long. To go along with a change in personality at home, their change in personality at the workplace could result in serious consequences such as workplace accidents, reprimands, or termination.
- Stealing from Friends and Neighbors – or Going Underground. Think doctors are the only way to get prescription drugs? Wrong. They may be the only legal way, but people with drug addiction have little regard for what is legal. Because the average medicine cabinet is usually stuffed with drugs, getting those drugs from a friend or neighbor is pretty easy: your loved one may steal the drugs during a seemingly innocent visit, or even ask for drugs from ill people they know. Your loved one may have a long list of reasons why they need those drugs, but just don’t seem to have them on hand.In order to elude detection by stealing or asking for drugs, your loved one may buy their pills from street dealers. Instead of visiting doctors or involving friends or family – your loved one may spend huge amounts of money buying them off of dealers. People who buy from dealers often are forced to come up with large amounts of cash in order to keep their addictions, which can result in selling their possessions, stealing from family members, friends, or strangers, skipping payments, or driving up credit cards debt.
- Other Physical Symptoms. Itching or flushed skin, nausea and vomiting, and slurred speech are physical signs of addiction. If your loved one is abusing prescription drugs, their pupils may be smaller, and their breathing may be slower and more shallow. Your loved one may also become more sensitive to normal sights and sounds.
How to Help.
If you’ve identified a prescription drug addiction in your loved one – remember that getting help professional help is essential. Forcing a person into a “cold turkey” healing mode is extremely dangerous. Because most prescription drugs cause such persistent damage, people who abuse them could face serious, even life-threatening problems if they attempt to stop the drug use all at once. For example, if your loved one is addicted to benzos like Xanax or Valium, quitting cold turkey can cause seizures. Other prescription drugs can cause similar problems – and oftentimes people who are addicted may simply return to the drug use in order to ease the pain of the withdraws.
For these reasons, Vertava Health offers a drug detox program that is overseen by consulting physicians. Our stabilization programs allow for a safe place for people who are abusing prescription drugs to avoid medical complications – before entering a formal rehab program.
If you or a loved one are suffering from prescription drug addiction, Vertava Health is here to help. (615) 208-2941.