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Diagnose Addiction to Prescription Meds


Addiction to prescription medications is reaching an epidemic level in the United States. Startling, more than 52 million Americans have used a prescription medication for a non-medical use at least once in their lifetime, with these numbers likely to continue to rise, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Due to these scary statistics, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with prescription drug abuse so that if you suspect a loved one has a problem, you can get them properly diagnosed and treaded.


By definition, prescription drug abuse is the non-medical use of a medication that is used in a way other than prescribed by a doctor in order to attain a ‘high.’ The most commonly prescription medications that are abused are painkillers, anti-anxiety medications, sleeping pills and ADHD medications.

Both adults and adolescents can become addicted to prescription medications. In fact, statistics demonstrate that one in 12 high school seniors have used the pain medication Vicodin, and one in 20 reported using another type of pain medication called OxyContin, for uses other than the treatment of pain. This is according to a 2010 survey conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.


There are three key areas that are important to be aware of when it comes to diagnosing addiction to prescription medications: behavioral, physical and psychological changes.

• Behavioral signs include changing of friends and acquaintances for no apparent reason; loss of interest in everyday activities that once were enjoyed; ongoing financial problems such as not having enough money to pay bills; and, even stealing from others in order to pay for their addiction.

• Physical signs include loss of interest in appearance as well as issues with cleanliness or grooming; eating less or more, resulting in weight gain or loss; eye problems including bloodshot eyes or pupils that are smaller or bigger than normal; and, nosebleeds, which is a telltale sign that drugs are being snorted through the nose.

• Psychological signs include lacking the ability to focus on basic conversations; changes in personality, including sudden mood changes or irritability; withdrawing from normal, every day life; and, appearing anxious or paranoid for no apparent reason.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADD)