With the current opioid epidemic claiming 115 lives daily, prescription pills are a scary prospect for everyone. So when your loved one fills a prescription for Percocet or OxyContin, it’s natural to switch into high alert. It’s even more concerning when they refill that prescription one or more times.
The thing is, none of us know what it’s like to live with someone else’s condition. And we cannot control other people’s actions. So we’re left to sit back and watch our loved ones pop yet another pill to get through the day.
But does that mean they’re addicted?
Not necessarily. If you're concerned that your loved one is addicted to prescription pills, look for these five signs.
They’re taking a commonly abused drug
Not all prescription pills are addicting. And of those that can be addicting, some are more dangerous than others. In the example above, we’re looking at prescription painkillers because these are some of the most dangerous prescriptions. But they’re not the only addictive prescriptions. The following common prescriptions are in danger of being abused:
- Opioids – These are prescription painkillers like Vicodin, Percocet, and OxyContin. Opioids are some of the strongest painkillers, but they’re also the most addicting. With that said, not all prescriptions for pain are opioids, so be sure to find out what your loved one is taking before you get too concerned.
- Sedatives – These drugs are often prescribed as sleep aids and should be used sparingly. The three most common sleeping pills are Ambien (zolpidem), Sonata (zaleplon), Lunesta (eszopiclone).
- Tranquilizers – This type of medication is often prescribed for anxiety, but it can also be prescribed as a sleep aid.
The initial prescription typically isn’t a problem, but if your loved one is refilling often with higher doses each time, there’s likely a problem. Talk to him or her about finding alternatives to help manage the pain before it becomes a full-blown addiction.
If your loved one is taking one of the commonly abused prescription drugs and changes doctors, pay attention. It could be that he or she wants a second opinion or just doesn’t like the doctor. Or it could be that your loved one is “doctor shopping.” When their regular doctor starts to become concerned about addiction, they’ll stop prescribing the drug. But if your loved one is already addicted, they are hardwired to see more drugs. This means finding another doctor who will write prescriptions.
Changes in mood or behavior
If your loved one starts exhibiting extreme changes in mood or behavior, it’s always a cause for concern. Prescription drug abuse could be one reason for the change, or it could be something else. Look out for mood swings, depression, secrecy or isolation. If you notice any behavioral changes, it’s always a good idea to talk about them.
Problems at work
When someone is struggling with addiction, finding their drug of choice can be a full-time job. In addition, they may be calling in sick often or going to work under the influence of a controlled substance. Both of these things can cost them their job.
If someone you love might be abusing prescription medications, the best thing you can do is start talking about the problem. Try not to take their word at face value because addicts are prone to lying, especially when it’s to protect their drug abuse. If you’re noticing the signs, keep talking about the problem and offering solutions. There are many outpatient programs that can allow someone in recovery to maintain their current job while getting sober. Let your loved one know that you care and there are options.
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