Although prescription medication abuse is now a topic of common knowledge, many people still assume that if doctors are allowed to recommend something, going a little farther with it can’t be so bad. The truth is, especially with opiate medications such as Percocet or OxyContin, anyone who steps outside carefully regulated therapeutic boundaries is playing an extremely dangerous game. Harvard Medical School reports that there are hundreds of thousands of opiate addicts in the United States, many of whom started with a legitimate prescription. In fact, a substantial number of prescription abusers are doctors themselves.
How to Tell When Prescription Medication Abuse Becomes a Problem
If you have any suspicions that you might have a prescription medication abuse problem, ask yourself the following questions.
Do You Feel Drowsy on a Regular Basis?
Are you suddenly dozing off in the middle of everyday activities, however much sleep you got the night before? This is a common indicator that your body is becoming accustomed to prescription medication abuse.
Are You Losing Interest in Social Activities and Hobbies?
Normally, medication should free you for more effective participation. If you’re seeing the opposite, you may be starting to value the drugs’ immediate effect over their actual purpose.
Have You Ever Taken More than the Official Dosage Instructions?
“Just one extra pill just once” can turn into a slippery slope toward “whenever I feel I need it.”
Have You Ever Gone to Separate Doctors for Identical Prescriptions without Telling Them about Each Other?
If you don’t feel your regular doctor is giving you “enough” medication, talk with him or her about the concern, but don’t go behind your doctor’s back. Odds are that, however you feel, a doctor can judge the safest path better than you—but only with accurate and complete information.
Have You Ever Bought from an Online Pharmacy in Addition to or Instead of a Brick-and-Mortar One?
Online pharmacies tend to be more lax in what they ship to whom—some don’t even ask for a copy of the prescription—and taking the “easiest route” toward obtaining medication is often a sign of not wanting to face up to a potential drug problem.
Have You Neglected to Consider Any Alternative Coping Strategies?
“One solution only” thinking is dangerous.
Does the Dosage You’ve Been Taking Now Seem Less Effective?
This could indicate increased tolerance to the medication, a potential sign of addiction risk. Or it could mean that your body chemistry, and therefore your medication needs, has changed. Either way, the best decision for any change is made with the advice of a doctor; don’t ever just decide on your own to take a little more.
Do You Experience Physical Withdrawal Symptoms if You Miss Your Regular Dose?
While a non-addicted medication user may notice mild discomfort or mood change if a dose is missed, a genuine addiction manifests itself in withdrawal symptoms more often associated with serious illness: heavy sweating; excessive fatigue or physical weakness; violent muscle spasms; nausea and vomiting; breathing difficulties; violent mood swings.
If you have any reason to think you may be becoming addicted to your prescription, talk to your doctor immediately.
Additional Signs of Prescription Medication Abuse
Do the person’s eyes fail to react to light—or has he or she begun wearing dark glasses in dim conditions, which may be an attempt to hide a strange-eyes effect?
Is the person losing weight for no obvious reason?
Have the person’s grooming habits changed for the worse?
Has he or she lost interest in favorite activities?
Has this person ever had a drug or alcohol problem in the past?
Convincing someone else to get help tends to be more difficult than convincing yourself, though sometimes the person already suspects they have a problem and needs only a gentle prod from a friend. More often, the immediate reaction will be denial or defensiveness.
How to Help a Loved One with Prescription Medication Abuse
To minimize the risk of winding up in a pointless argument:
Don’t Delay Talking to the Person
It’s tempting to “avoid stirring up trouble” and hope they’ll talk to you eventually; but the longer you wait, the worse things will get and the harder it will be to resolve the problem.
Never Start with Accusations, Criticism, or an “I’m Going to Fix You” Attitude
Resolve in advance that you will express your concerns gently, listen to the other person respectfully, and not get angry whatever response you get. If the person agrees to seek treatment, offer your full support; if he or she refuses to talk about it, let them know you will always be there when they need to talk. Keep reaching out regularly and with gentle empathy.
Get Advice from a Doctor or Support Group for a Loved One
Not to learn how to solve anyone’s problem for them, but to keep yourself prepared to help your loved one in the most effective way. If you think an “intervention,” or group confrontation, may be necessary, make a careful plan in alliance with an expert; poorly managed interventions can make things worse.
Help for Your Own Prescription Medication Abuse
If you think you need a prescription, especially for a painkiller or sedative, take these precautions to avoid giving addiction a chance to develop:
Don’t Let the Doctor Rush You through a Consultation—and Don’t Rush Things Yourself
Go over your options and any possible side effects thoroughly. If the doctor won’t listen carefully to all your concerns, consider finding another doctor.
Include “Making a Long-Term Plan” in the Goals of Your Initial Consultation
Know from the beginning how long the treatment should last and what you will do if you feel signs of tolerance or changed reaction developing.
Take Your Medication in Conjunction with Other Coping Strategies
Regularly practiced mindful thinking, prayer or meditation, and alternative pain management will give you something besides “a bigger dose” to fall back on if the medication doesn’t always deliver everything you want.
Never Take More than the Officially Prescribed Dose of Medication Without Direct Advice from a Medical Professional
Prescription drugs are a wonderful blessing when used properly. Manage them responsibly, and you needn’t risk trading one problem for another.
Get Help for Prescription Medication Abuse at Kemah Palms Recovery
With numerous addiction treatment options in Houston, Kemah Palms Recovery can help you or someone you love take the first step to a better life. Along with painkiller addiction treatment, we offer a number of Houston substance abuse treatment programs, including:
Don’t let prescription medication abuse continue to dominate you or your loved one’s life. Call Kemah Palms Recovery today at 866.604.1873.