It’s gotten to the point where it’s impossible to ignore: Prescription pill abuse is an epidemic in our country. According to NIDA (National Institute on Drug Abuse), in 2017 a record 18 million people reported misusing medications within the past year. If you’ve been doubling up on prescriptions or getting pills off of friends, how do you know when it’s crossed the line?
Am I addicted to pills?
The truth is, if you’re asking yourself this question, you’ve probably already got a problem. Addiction often begins to click into place before you even realize it’s happening. If you start noticing your own red flags, it’s time to get help. You don’t have to wait for some official signifier of being “addicted.” It’s possible to get help before you reach your rock bottom.
What are red flags for addiction?
The biggest sign that you may be addicted is if you want to stop using, but you can’t. That’s pretty easy to test. Try getting through a day, a week, or a month without pills and see how that turns out.
If you can stop, but you’re still not sure whether your pill use is OK, take a look at your life: Are your relationships, job, and/or health being affected?
(It’s also important to note that if you don’t have a prescription and you’re taking prescription pills, that’s already clearly an issue in itself!)
Seeking residential treatment can help not only your misuse or abuse of prescription drugs, but the psychological issues that may be making your abuse worse, as well. Here are some additional early warning signs that you may be sliding into dependency and addiction.
Stages of Prescription Drug Abuse
Phase #1 Non-medical use
You are beginning to take prescription medication for non-medical use. I.e., you don’t have a prescription for what you’re taking, or you’re not taking it as your doctor prescribed. This is the first early warning sign that you may be becoming dependent on prescription drugs.
Phase #2 Misuse
You are regularly taking prescription medication when not needed or for non-medical reasons. You are noticing your tolerance is getting higher. Maybe one pill doesn’t have the same effect as it did before. You are taking higher doses of the prescription medication to get the effect you seek.
Phase #3 Abuse
You are often or chronically misusing prescription medication for non-medical reasons. It may be starting to affect your everyday life. Maybe you are not able to meet your responsibilities, are missing work, having relationship problems, or having mood swings.
Phase #4 Addiction
You now feel you NEED it and you can’t feel psychologically “normal” without it. You may be looking for other ways to get more, due to tolerance build-up. You are seeing multiple doctors to prescribe it (a practice known as “doctor shopping”) or taking medication from another person’s prescribed bottle. Your use is affecting your daily life and you are having direct consequences from the chronic use of the prescription drug. Withdrawal symptoms are occurring when the medication or “high” begins to wear off.
Withdrawal symptoms may differ based on the type of drug being used, especially if multiple drugs are being utilized to “come down” after your high or avoid the “come down” all together.
Withdrawal symptoms may include, but are not limited to:
Depression, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, sleeping problems, intense dreams, irregular heart rate
Seizures, insomnia, anxiety, confusion, sweating, tremors/shakes, increased heart rate
Irritability, anxiety, pain, sweating or chills, dilated pupils, or stomach issues such as abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
Withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening and if you’re detoxing, you should be observed by a medical professional. Again, don’t wait until you’re starting to notice withdrawal symptoms to get help. Detox and rehab programs will provide you with a safe and positive environment to give you a break away from your prescription pill dependency.
If you are questioning whether you may be experiencing some early signs or symptoms of prescription drug abuse reach out to us or chat with one of our team members to help answer any questions.
Getting Clean & Sober at Home
Today, more than 75% of hospitals and healthcare providers offer access to telehealth treatment, with 29 states having gone so far as to enact telehealth parity laws, which force insurance companies to reimburse patients for telehealth at the same rates as they would for in-person treatment.
If you’ve been thinking about getting clean and sober, or if you’ve been wanting to work on and strengthen the recovery you already have, it’s never been easier to do it through telehealth.