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signs of prescription drug abuse

When Helpful Becomes Hurtful: 7 Signs Your Prescription Drugs May Be Taking Over

About 18 million Americans misused a prescription drug in 2017 alone. We often think of substances like heroin and cocaine when talking about drug addiction, but people become addicted to prescription drugs every day.

Part of the reason is that many people don’t realize the dangers of taking certain prescriptions. They’re prescribed by a doctor for a medical reason, so they must be safe, right?

If you believe yourself or a loved one has been struggling with their medication, be sure to look out for the signs of prescription drug abuse. You can get help and stop your addiction in its tracks.

Do you want to know more? Keep reading to discover the top 7 signs that you may be becoming addicted to prescription drugs.

1. Continued Use After Pain Ceases

Did you just have surgery? Or maybe you were involved in a car accident. Chances are, you were given prescription pain medication.

At some point, the pain from your surgery or accident goes away. Your body heals, and you should be able to go back to your normal life.

If you find yourself continuing to take your prescriptions even though you’re no longer in pain, that’s one sign of physical dependence and possibly addiction. Your prescription probably ran out at some point and you went back to the doctor complaining of pain that wasn’t really there just to get a refill.

2. Incorrectly Taking Medications

Every medication you get comes with a set of instructions. Do you find yourself unable to follow them?

Maybe you decided to take an extra pill once because you were still feeling pain. Pretty soon, this turned into you taking more than prescribed every day.

This can cause your body to develop a high tolerance for prescription medication, so you’ll need to take more and more to get the same effect. Over time, you may find yourself unable to get through the day without taking your high dose of medication.

3. Behavior Changes

Just like any other type of addiction, prescription drug addiction comes with a set of behavior changes. You may find yourself becoming agitated or even hostile, particularly when you need to take another dose, or when someone questions you about your prescription drug use.

You may also withdrawal from loved ones. This may become worse if they try to talk to you about your drug use or stage an intervention.

Depending on the type of prescription drug you’re taking, you may also become extremely hyper or begin to feel very sedated. Which brings us to our next sign…

4. Showing Physical Signs of Drug Abuse

The three most common types of abused drugs are opioids, anti-anxiety medications/sedatives, and stimulants. Each one can cause you to behave very differently.


Opioids are commonly used to treat pain. Common examples include Percocet and Oxycontin. Some of the physical signs of opioid abuse are:

Opioid addictions can be particularly dangerous, so be sure to seek help as soon as you suspect a problem

Anti-Anxiety and Sedatives

As the name suggests, these are commonly used to treat sleep disorders or anxiety. Valium and Xanax are two common brands. Keep an eye out for the following physical signs of abuse:

  • Poor coordination
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Slowed breathing
  • Memory problems

As you can see, many of the symptoms associated with anti-anxiety and sedative abuse are similar to those abusing opioids or alcohol.


Stimulants, like Adderall and Ritalin, are often used to treat ADHD. Although they’re called stimulants, they can also help with some sleep disorders like narcolepsy. Watch out for these signs of stimulant abuse:

  • Feeling high
  • Paranoia
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High body temperature
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Reduced appetite
  • Increased alertness

Some of these signs, like high body temperature and reduced appetite, are common symptoms of the flu. So, make sure to look out for a combination of the tell-tale signs of stimulant abuse.

5. Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms

How do you feel when you don’t take your prescription drugs? If you’ve become addicted, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms.

Opioid withdrawal symptoms include muscle and joint pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, sweating, chills, and dilated pupils. Anti-anxiety and sedative withdrawal symptoms include sweating, confusion, shaking, insomnia, and even seizures. Stimulant withdrawal symptoms include intense dreams, irritability, difficulty sleeping, and depression.

6. Becoming Focused on Getting More Medication

If you’ve been abusing prescriptions drugs for a while, you’ve likely run into a problem getting a refill at some point. Maybe you used up your prescription too quickly and couldn’t get a refill. Or maybe your doctor wanted to talk about alternative treatment options.

Those struggling with drug abuse often become focused on getting more medication. You may not be interested in hearing other treatment options or you may continue complaining about your symptoms to get more, even if they’ve gone away.

You may also forge prescriptions, claim to have lost your medication, buy drugs off the street, or go to several doctors for prescriptions. If nothing else works, you may resort to stealing or using other’s prescriptions.

7. Developing Financial Problems

When you become addicted to prescription medication, you’ll do almost anything to get more. But the cost of your medication and those constant doctor’s visits (especially if you’re seeing more than one) can really add up.

If you notice you’re developing financial problems because you’re spending all your money on drugs and doctor’s visits, you may be suffering from prescription drug addiction.

Top Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

While take prescriptions may seem safe (and it can be!), you should be aware of the signs of prescription drug abuse. If you find yourself or a loved one displaying the signs listed above, consider getting help right away.

Are you ready to receive treatment for your drug abuse? Contact us today to learn more about our program that combines holistic and alternative medicine with social reprogramming.