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With prescription drug abuse reaching epidemic proportions worldwide, you need to know when someone you care about is abusing pills. The three types of prescription drugs that are most commonly abused are stimulants, sedatives/anti-anxiety medications, and prescription pain killers. Prescription pain killer abuse is by far the worst prescription drug and overall drug problem facing Americans. Each category of prescription drug causes a different effect and serves its own purpose medically, and each has its own set of side effects. Here is what to look out for.
When someone is abusing prescription stimulants such as Adderall for example, they do so to experience the significantly enhanced alertness, focus and energy caused by the drug's stimulant effects on the central nervous system. When someone is experiencing a stimulant high, they will very obviously appear over-stimulated. They will have bursts of energy, they will talk endlessly, they can stay awake for unusually extensive periods, etc. Side effects of prescription stimulants include insomnia and loss of appetite. So, if you notice the person isn't sleeping and is losing a great deal of weight, along with the other apparent effects of stimulants, it is very likely they are abusing these pills and regularly.
When someone has become dependent to prescription stimulants, they will experience the effects of withdrawal which can also help identify the problem. On the comedown from prescription stimulants, abusers may be inclined to become depressed, aggressive, angry and experience severe mood swings. Individuals who abuse prescription stimulants will doctor shop and resort to lying and stealing to obtain their drugs. Dependence and addiction to prescription stimulants can be likened to cocaine dependence and addiction, and in fact the only difference is that cocaine is illegal.
Sedatives and anti-anxiety medications are among the most abused drugs among Americans. Most of these types of medications are only meant for short-term use, so the first clue to someone abusing sedatives or anti-anxiety pills is how long they have been using them. If it's for several months or years, there's your red flag right there. Today's pill-popping generation sees no problem with self-medicating with or without a prescription to relieve typical life stresses and anxiety or to relax and get a good night's sleep. Unlike stimulant abuse, individuals who abuse sedatives and anti-anxiety medications are aiming for being less stimulated and stressed. Someone who is abusing these types of pills, such as Xanax or Valium, will appear drowsy, sedated, their speech will be slurred and might be forgetful or seem confused.
Sedatives and anti-anxiety pills are drugs which can cause drug dependence and withdrawal. Within just a couple of weeks or months of abuse, individuals can experience rebound symptoms of anxiety, panic, etc. if they don't take their pills. If someone is going through withdrawal, they will seem very agitated, anxious, restless, have trouble sleeping, seem depressed and may even experience life threatening seizures. If someone has been abusing these types of drugs and wants to stop or needs to, they should always do so with professional medical intervention and assistance. But withdrawal is a sure way to spot whether or not someone is abusing sedatives and anti-anxiety medications.
When someone is abusing prescription pain pills, it is very much like an addiction to heroin. You know someone is abusing prescription pain pills because any type of opiate addiction is usually quite apparent. Prescription opioids and synthetic prescription opioids when abused in doses that can make a person "high" will cause them to appear drowsy, and they will nod in and out of consciousness. Opioids act as a depressant in the body, so not only will they nod off while high but their breathing can become extremely shallow. Overdoses can easily happen when someone takes such a large dose of prescription pain killers that they stop breathing altogether. It is very common for abusers of prescription pain killers to make excuses for these obvious side effects of their drug abuse, by saying they're "tired". They're not tired, they're high. These drugs can also affect their sleep patterns however, and they may actually be restless and unable to sleep when they can't get their fix. This is something to look out for as well.
Opiate withdrawal is another sign that someone is abusing prescription pain pills. These symptoms are the same for heroin. Frequent flu-like symptoms are very common among opiate abusers, and someone coming down from opiates or opioid prescription medications will experience nausea, fever, headaches, muscle and bone aches and general flu-type symptoms but many times worse. They will also experience decreased libido in many instances. Their personal relationships will begin to be affected by their drug use, because their drug use becomes more important than these relationships.
Individuals hooked on prescription pain pills will engage in the exact same drug seeking and destructive behaviors that heroin addicts do to obtain their pills. Theft and unconventional and illegal means of obtaining their drugs such as doctor shopping, insurance fraud etc. are very common. If someone is constantly looking high, and is constantly broke and in need of money and at the same time visiting countless doctors for pain pill prescriptions, it is very likely they are abusing pain pills and have a serious problem.