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Signs and Symptoms

By definition of the National Institute of Drug Abuse: Prescription drug abuse is the use of a medication without a prescription, in a way other than prescribed, or for the experience or feeling elicited. This abuse can lead to addiction, which is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior and use despite sometimes devastating consequences.

While any prescription drug has the potential to be abused, some are more common than others.

Examples of Commonly Misused & Abused Prescription Drugs:

  • Painkillers or Opioids (to treat pain): Oxycontin, Opana, Vicodin, Morphine, Percocet
  • Depressants (to treat anxiety or sleep disorders): Valium, Xanax, Soma
  • Stimulants (to treat attention-deficit disorders): Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta

These drugs can have dangerous effects if used inappropriately, but are even more dangerous when used in combination with other drugs or alcohol. Abuse of prescription drugs has been known to lead to other, illegal drug use as well.

The ultimate danger of prescription drug abuse is death due to accidental overdose. Accidental overdoses cause more deaths in Indiana than car accidents.

The impact of misuse and abuse of prescription drugs further complicates the mental state of an individual. Usage behaviors escalate to behaviors that are even more serious, once addiction has become a factor. Alcohol, additional pills, even street drugs may be the next steps of a deadly combination.

Early detection of addiction can mean the difference between life and death. Knowing the signs and symptoms of addiction cannot replace professional treatment, but it can identify a serious problem before it's too late.

Watch for the following red flags with prescription usage:

  • Sleep pattern changes
  • Taking more than prescribed
  • "Craving" just one more pill/refill
  • Running out of prescriptions too soon
  • Mixing pills and alcohol
  • Appearance of intoxication, hyperactivity, or loss of energy/interest
  • Continually "losing" prescriptions and requesting replacements
  • Seeking prescriptions for more than one injury or with multiple doctors
  • Abnormal behaviors, hostility, withdrawal, or sudden personality changes
  • Poor decision making, such as secrecy or defiance
  • Stealing, forging, or selling prescriptions
  • Other "risk taking" behaviors such as tobacco use and excessive drinking indicate higher likelihood for these types of behaviors could be present

There are many people in need of treatment. Is it time for you or a loved one to Get Help NOW? If so, our page of resources will help you make that step.