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Recognizing Warning Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

Recovery Centers of America

Authored by Recovery Centers of America

How Substance Abuse Leads to Treatment

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates that roughly 52 million people have abused prescription drugs at some point in their lifetime. Also, nearly 14 percent of this population qualifies as drug dependent, and many of these are youths and adolescents. Recognizing prescription drug abuse signs is the first step in addressing the problem.

Many first-time prescription drug users receive drugs through several outlets. For example, they often receive them from friends, family members, and even coworkers. However, others are prescribed drugs, and continue to take them even after the condition for which they were prescribed the drug has subsided. As a result, prescription drug use has increased since the early 1990’s, and many Americans perceive prescription drugs as less harmful than their illicit counterparts. Despite this perception, prescription drug abuse can lead to a host of adverse side effects, including addiction and even death.

Certainly, it is important for clinicians to recognize the warning signs of prescription drug abuse and promote treatment at one of our substance abuse treatment centers. Clinicians are given the power to prescribe drugs, and are often in the first line of defense when it comes to identifying drug addiction. Therefore, recognizing the warning signs of prescription drug abuse early can prevent chronic addiction and fatal overdose.

Preventing Prescription Drug Abuse

Steps clinicians can take to address prescription drug abuse include:

  • Asking patients about all drugs they consume. Through this, clinicians can help patients understand whether or not a problem exists. Also, they can assist them in setting goals for recovery, and advise patients to seek additional treatment if necessary.
  • Screening for prescription drug abuse. Such screening can be included as part of regular medical visits.
  • Be wary of doctor shopping. Be aware of short-term loyalty based on the need for multiple or ongoing prescriptions.


Warning Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

Certainly, signs may change based on the type of drug prescribed, as outlined below:

Opiates may cause, for example:

  • Inability to feel pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Constricted pupils
  • Delayed breathing

Benzodiazepines may cause, for example:

  • Extreme relaxation
  • Poor memory
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor coordination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts
  • Aggressiveness
  • Paranoia
  • Dizziness/headaches

Stimulants may result in, for example:

  • Anxiety
  • Delusions
  • Chest pain
  • Heart palpitations
  • Delusions
  • Irregular sleeping patterns

Finally, if you notice any symptoms and warning signs of prescription drug abuse, it may be time to perform a drug screening or seek a higher level of care for your patient. Additionally, Westminster is one of many RCA substance abuse treatment centers dedicated to reducing the level of prescription drug abuse in America by providing engaging and thorough treatment at multiple levels of intensity.

Contact Us

To find out more about available treatment options, call 1-800-RECOVERY.

Authored by

Recovery Centers of America

Recovery Centers of America



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