Recognizing that a loved one is potentially misusing their prescription medication doesn’t always come with clear signs. There is no one size fits all situation when it comes to prescription drug abuse. It is more than likely they are not going to be holding a flashing sign telling anyone what they are doing. They might not even realize that they’re abusing their prescription until they’ve become dependent on it. 

Have you noticed that somebody you care about may be showing signs of addiction or misusing their prescription? Thinking of confronting a loved one about their medication usage can feel overwhelming, but it can also be a life-saving interaction. When it comes to prescription medication, some people have difficulty managing their prescription as directed by a doctor. Today we’re exploring how prescription misuse can go unnoticed, what signs may indicate drug abuse, and how to seek out treatment.


What is Prescription Drug Abuse?

When most people think of drug abuse, they more than likely think of illegal street drugs. However, developing an addiction to prescription medication can happen to anyone. Prescription drug abuse, sometimes referred to as drug misuse, occurs when somebody takes their prescription more often than prescribed. Or with the intent to use the medication for something other than the original reason it was prescribed. 

It may seem like prescription misuse would stem from long-term use of medications, but that’s not always the case. In fact, many people develop dependencies or addictions when taking temporary prescriptions that are meant to alleviate pain from injuries or procedures. Studies in 2020 showed that almost 6%, over 18 million people, had misused their prescription medication. People reported that they had taken their medication for a reason other than the original prescription from a doctor in the last 12 months. 

It can be hard to identify what is going on as well as how to approach loved ones over sensitive issues. This is especially true if you have reason to believe that your loved one is misusing their prescription medication.


Common Signs of Prescription Misuse

Truth be told, it can be difficult to recognize when a loved one is abusing their prescription medication. Not only can it be hard to identify when someone is abusing their prescriptions. Many people may be abusing their medication for a long period of time before some of the signs of abuse or addiction occur. However, if you are uncertain about what to look for there are a few signals that something might not be right. 

Common signs that you can be on the lookout for when it comes to prescription drug abuse include but are not limited to:

• Confusion
• Lack of coordination
• Slurred speech
• Drowsiness
• Skin rashes or itchy skin

Hints that somebody is misusing their prescription medication can present themselves in a variety of ways. From mood swings and agitation to dehydration and constricted pupils – there are a surplus of indications somebody is misusing their prescription.


Common Prescription Medications Misused

Everyone is different in the sense that they may not have a history of addiction or drug abuse but can develop a dependency on certain medications. The list of prescription medications that are commonly misused include:

• Opioids (Codeine, Hydrocodone, OxyContin, Percocet, etc.)
• Central Nervous System depressants (Xanax, Valium, Ativan)
• Stimulants (Dexedrine, ProCentra, Ritalin, Adderall, etc.)

Historically, opioids are one of the most common medication types that people misuse. Due to their addictive qualities, it can be easy for anyone to go from taking their daily dosage to slowly abusing the medication. Some people may start easing into taking their prescription an hour or two early and then multiple times per day.

One reason opioids are one of the most commonly abused drugs is that they can be tied to forgetfulness. This means that your loved one may not have had any ill intentions and they may not even realize they’ve developed a dependency on their prescription. It can entirely be that they didn’t realize they’d already taken their prescribed dose and then they took it again. Many people that are prescribed opioids will keep a time sheet to track when they last took their medication to help prevent accidental misuse. 

CNS depressants can reduce anxiety and help slow down the heart rate, which is why they become so addictive to many people. Taken in short periods of time, they can help treat things like sleep disorders and seizures, but with long-term prescriptions, they can become dangerous. Abuse of CNS depressants commonly happens when someone gets addicted to feeling calm or ‘light’ after taking the medication. 

Stimulants are often referred to as mood-boosting drugs and are frequently misused due to their ability to make people feel a sense of alertness. Patients that are prescribed a stimulant might feel like they’ve gotten a boost of energy after taking their medication. This often leads to prescription abuse because people may begin to feel like their moods are lower when they’re not taking the medication. 


Addressing Concerns of Medication Misuse with a Loved One

It can be hard to admit that there’s a problem when it comes to taking medication. Nobody likes to acknowledge that they might be losing control of their prescriptions. 

People will be reluctant to admit they are acting in a way that can be harmful to themselves as well as those around them. Prescription medication abuse is just as dangerous and can be as addictive as illegal street drugs. Disclosing that there’s a dependency can feel embarrassing or overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to end on a bad note. 

If you are concerned that somebody you care about is possibly taking more than they need to when it comes to their prescriptions, or possibly taking them for reasons other than they are prescribed, New Method Wellness can help you take the first steps in confronting your loved one about your concerns.

As a reputable drug addiction treatment center, we specialize in creating a safe environment with long-term recovery solutions that are catered to each individual’s needs. Our team of experts works diligently to ensure that we treat everyone with compassion and understanding as we work together to achieve mental, emotional, and physical clarity. 

Our goal is to provide support that recognizes structure and encouragement rather than shame or humiliation. We want you and your loved ones to feel heard and understood. Contact us with any questions or concerns you may have.