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Am I Addicted to My Medications? 10 Signs That You Are

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

Medically reviewed by

Brenda Munnerlyn, RN, BSN

March 11, 2019

Many individuals who take prescription medications often fall victim to abuse and addiction. Knowing the common signs of prescription drug abuse can help save the life of you or a loved one.

Drug overdose deaths in the United States have more than tripled due to prescription painkiller abuse. The misuse and abuse of prescription painkillers led to 475,000 emergency room visits in 2009, double the number of visits from five years prior. In 2008, 14,800 Americans died from prescription painkiller abuse. But this statistic is just the top of the iceberg. For every one death, 10 people are admitted to treatment for abuse, 32 people visit emergency rooms for abuse side effects, and 825 people are “non-medical users” – individuals who use prescription drugs recreationally.

Many individuals who abuse prescription drugs become dependent on these medications following an accident injury. By crushing, grinding and snorting the drugs, individuals are able to achieve a stronger, more intense high. This creates dependency and leads to further abuse. The most common prescription medications, including Vicodin, OxyContin, Percocet, and Methadone are easily abused and highly addictive. While these medications offer immediate relief from pain, in order to feel ‘normal’, many individuals develop a chemical dependency on these drugs.

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Could You Or A Loved One Be Addicted To Your Medications?

The following checklist highlights the top 10 warning signs for prescription drug abuse – do you recognize yourself in these warning signs?

  1. Increased usage. As dependency develops, it is not uncommon for individuals to begin taking more prescription painkillers over time as they grow tolerant to the effects of their prescribed medications. If you are someone you know is increasing their dosage, this is a red flag for possible medication addiction.
  2. Social withdrawal. Individuals who are dependent on prescription painkillers or who abuse these medications are more likely to withdraw from friends, family and other social interaction. Individuals may be inexplicably absent from experiences and events that once brought fulfillment and happiness to the individuals in the past.
  3. Change in personality. An individual who is abusing prescription painkillers will also undergo a profound change in personality. “Normal behavior” is replaced with a single-minded focus on obtaining and using prescription painkillers. This can lead to erratic and irrational behavior, shifts in energy and concentration, unexplained mood swings, depression and anxiety, and outbursts of anger.
  4. Change in daily habits and appearance. Individuals who are dependent on prescription painkillers spend less time grooming or caring for their physical appearance; in fact, personal hygiene may completely fall apart. Changes in sleeping and eating habits are common. Individuals dependent on prescription painkillers are likely to have a constant runny nose and cough, as well as red, glazed eyes.
  5. Blackouts and forgetfulness. Forgetting about important events, such as a birthday or family gathering, as well as forgetting about day-to-day commitments, like office meetings or picking the kids up from school, are common. The individual may also forget details to events that recently took place and suffer from blackouts.
  6. Increased sensitivity. Prescription drug abuse intensifies an individual’s reaction to normal sights and sounds. Normal visual and auditory experiences can be over stimulating and intense. Depending on the amount of prescription drugs being abuse, hallucinations may also occur.
  7. Defensiveness. Individuals who are abusing prescription drugs may become defensive and angry when others question their drug use. These individuals may lash out if they feel like their secret is being discovered – even if they are just being asked a simple, straightforward question.
  8. Constantly making excuses. Individuals who abuse prescription painkillers are constantly making excuses to justify their behavior. They may ask you or another loved one to make up excuses to their boss regarding poor work performance.
  9. Frequent doctor visits. Individuals who abuse prescription painkillers may obtain their prescriptions by “doctor shopping”, a common practice where individuals visit multiple doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions – and then go to different pharmacies to have these prescriptions filled.
  10. An insistence that it is possible to “stop” at any time. Individuals who abuse prescription drugs typically insist that it is possible for them to stop abusing drugs at any time. In reality, they may have tried to quit, but been unable to do so.

If your life has become unmanageable because of prescription drug abuse, sobriety is possible. Talk to a qualified addiction specialist today.


Am I Addicted to My Medications? 10 Signs That You Are Infographic
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