Social workers frequently interact with clients who need to take prescriptions for a variety of reasons. Clients who are suffering from anxiety may be prescribed sedatives or anti-anxiety medications, and clients who have experienced physical trauma, illness, or surgery may be prescribed opioid painkillers. When used properly and with a physician’s supervision, these prescription medications can make all the difference in a person’s drug addiction recovery. However, many prescriptions are potentially habit-forming and can be addictive when used improperly.
In fact, NIDA reports that prescription and over-the-counter drugs are the most commonly abused substances by Americans, apart from marijuana and alcohol.
Some people are more receptive to help and prescription monitoring from their social worker than others. Social workers who do not want to miss prescription drug addiction signs will appreciate the following six tips.
Six Prescription Drug Addiction Symptoms You Need To Know
Here is a useful guide for social workers to the first signs of addiction:
- One of the primary signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse is the need to obtain more of the drug in question. The compulsive drive leads to a variety of drug-seeking behaviors, including prescription fraud. Indicators include stealing, forging, selling, lying about “losing” prescriptions or seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor.
- Taking a medication other than prescribed, whether by taking higher or more frequent doses, or in a manner other than prescribed (crushing, snorting, injecting) are all indicators of prescription drug abuse. You can ask your clients how they are taking their medication, and how they are keeping track of the correct dose and frequency.
- Risky behaviors are frequently associated with substance use disorders of any variety. Risky behaviors include reckless activities, changes in sexual activity, and operating vehicles while under the influence. Remember, if your client is in need of prescription drugs, they should cooperate with their doctor’s instructions regarding safety, including relinquishing their car keys if necessary. Patients who are unwilling to do so may be demonstrating poor decision-making, a symptom of drug addiction.
Opioid addiction symptoms.
- Opioids slow down the digestive system, so you can listen to your clients for complaints about constipation and nausea. Opioids also can slow respiration, cause drowsiness and confusion, and contribute to poor coordination.
Sedative addiction symptoms.
- Sedative addiction symptoms are similar to the symptoms of opioid addiction. Slowed respiration, drowsiness, confusion, and an unsteady, dizzy step. Listen for slurred speech and notice if your client has difficulty remembering details.
Stimulant addiction symptoms.
- Stimulants have an effect on the human body that is opposite of opioids and sedatives. Professionals mark stimulant abuse by agitation, anxiety, and insomnia. Your client may seem restless and overheated, as both heart rate and blood pressure increase with stimulant abuse.
Have you noticed these signs in a client? Your client may be more willing to discuss their addictive behaviors with you if you remind them that you are there to help and not to judge. You should reassure them that it is easier to treat an addiction early. This implies treating it before it leads to more serious health, family, financial, and legal problems. You may also want to remind patients that addiction is a disease, not a moral failure, and you can treat it with drug addiction recovery.