The Symptoms of Prescription Drug Abuse

symptoms of prescription drug abuse

In their careers, social workers will come across a different kind of addict.  These addicts are not addicted to street drugs but to drugs of a higher magnitude: prescription drugs. The use of prescription drugs in the United States continues to grow, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The three types of prescription drugs people are increasingly becoming addicted to include:

  • Opioids, which are prescribed to individuals who suffer from acute or chronic pain
  • Benzodiazepines, which are prescribed to individuals who suffer from sleep disorders and severe anxiety
  • Stimulants, which are prescribed to individuals who have ADHD

Each drug acts as a stronger version of the over-the-counter version, as each is used to relieve emotional and physical stress. Gradually, people become dependent on them. When they can no longer have access to their chosen drug, they attempt to acquire them illegally—sometimes resulting in their arrests and court-mandated rehabilitation.

When people do not have a prescription and take prescribed medication, the effects can cost them their life, especially if it triggers a health condition or an accidental overdose. For this reason, it is vital for families as well as social workers to recognize the symptoms of each type of prescription medication abuse.

Symptoms of prescription drug abuse

Symptoms of opiate abuse

  • Visible needle marks or tracks on the skin
  • Scarring from skin abscesses
  • Fast heart rate
  • Relaxed state
  • Small sizes pupils
  • Severe constipation
  • Severe depression
  • Confusion
  • Low blood pressure

Withdrawal symptoms of opiates

  • Insomnia
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Sweating
  • High blood pressure
  • Severe depression
  • Craving for drugs
  • Muscle pain

Symptoms of stimulant prescription abuse

  • Over-the-top excitement
  • Enlarged pupils
  • Hyperactivity, always on the move
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Irritability
  • High blood pressure
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Weight loss

Withdrawal symptoms of stimulant prescriptions

  • Distant from reality
  • Anxious
  • Thoughts of suicide and attempted suicide
  • Extreme cravings
  • Depression
  • Bad dreams
  • Fatigue

Symptoms of depressant prescription abuse

  • Slurred speech
  • Lack of eye coordination
  • Poor judgment
  • Sleepiness
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Short lifespan and attention span

Withdrawal symptoms of depressants

  • Sweating
  • Sleep disorders
  • High blood pressure, temperature, and pulse rate
  • Seizures
  • Delirium
  • Hallucinations
  • Anxious
  • Tremors

Social workers and mental health professionals should be able to spot the aforementioned signs of drug abuse; especially if they have been assigned to a case by the court of a family that partakes in illegal consumption of drugs. They also need to understand the reason behind the drug abuse.

People tend to abuse prescription drugs for the very same reason they abuse street drugs. It gives them a buzz, making them feel lightheaded as if they are weightless and flying. The feeling soon becomes a need, wreaking havoc in their lives and the ones close to them. The addiction to prescription medication usually begins as experimentation, as people believe they are safer than the drugs on the street. However, that is not true.

To gain NASW approved continuing education credit or to explore more courses on prescription drug abuse, visit our website.

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