Today we welcome back guest writer Trevor McDonald to The Purple Jacket!
Contrary to popular belief, drug abuse is not limited to the use of illicit substances. Majority of the time, it is a consequence of developing an addiction to prescription medication or painkillers – which initially, already possess highly addictive properties. The main scenario that sets the stage for addiction is when a doctor prescribes a medication to treat a patient’s ailment- such as a physical injury, chronic pain, inflammation, and even mental illness. While a patient intends only to use the prescribed medication to diminish their pain or discomfort, they can unexpectedly become dependent on the effects of the drug long after their original ailment heals. Therefore, this allows them to abuse the remaining medication and even gain access to more.
According to the studies of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it was estimated in 2014 that 26 million people globally abused prescription drugs, while the United States statistic is just over 2 million people. In 2017, both numbers continue to increase by the thousands.
To prevent this opioid epidemic from rising, we can take action by looking for the warning signs of prescription pill abuse in the loved ones in our lives.
These are the warning signs of prescription pill abuse:
Fatigue causes one to experience severe bouts of exhaustion, lack of sleep, severe nausea, and general bodily discomfort. A person always seems to be restless or even suffers from intense migraines and muscle and joint paint. Overall, the constant abuse of drugs damages an individual’s immune system. Without its adequate protection, a person is prone to suffering sickness, diseases, and infections at a much higher and faster rate.
- Drastic changes in behavior or mood
Mood swings or uncharacteristic behaviors are triggered by a drug’s effect on altering brain chemistry and disrupting neurotransmitters. An individual can be completely ecstatic and cheerful one moment, and not even a minute later is suddenly lashing out violently in anger and rage. Effectively communicating with them becomes increasingly difficult and their unpredictable behavior is discerning to be around.
- Physical changes
Look for drastic weight changes, bloodshot eyes, and abnormal pupil sizes. Furthermore, you will notice sudden patches, bruises, or infections appearing on the skin without proper reason. Additionally, grooming habits and hygiene are obviously neglected. The person no longer cares about their physical appearance at this point.
- Isolation and Disinteress
Does your loved one seem to purposely avoid social interactions or neglect relationships? When in isolation, an individual addicted to drugs will separate themselves from the outside world in order to focus on the most important thing to them: getting their fix on more painkillers. In conjunction with socialization, an individual addicted to drugs will also abandon their hobbies and past interests as well. Eventually, everything and everyone in their life becomes worthless in exchange for the high they reach on drugs.
- Depression and Anxiety – and general mental illness, for that matter
Depression and anxiety can appear without warning or family history and even worsen a preexisting mental illness. While depression and anxiety are common side effects of certain drugs, the medications that have this pre-existing warning can encourage suicidal idealization and episodes of anxiety. Also, while drugs do not directly cause a mental illness, such as schizophrenia or mania to occur, they have the ability to increase an individual’s likelihood to develop them.
- Impairment of cognitive functioning
You will notice a lack of normal cognitive functioning in someone when their speech begins to slur, they lose concentration easily, and their memory seems to deteriorate. It becomes a challenge to hold a conversation or rely on them to perform a basic action. Along with that, a person may shift in and out of reality and become disassociated from the world and people around them.
- Suicidal or homicidal tendencies
In extreme case scenarios, a drug addiction to prescription pills can cause someone to be suicidal or homicidal, or a combination of the two. According to a study in 2015 from the University of Eastern Finland, researchers found a frightening connection between the abuse of prescription drugs and homicide. When under the influence of copious amounts of sedatives, an individual is 45% more likely to commit a homicide or similarly violent crime. The most concerning fact was that abusing over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or Tylenol, showed a staggering 206% increase in homicidal rates.
If you know anyone who is on the verge of suffering a drug addiction, know that that there is always hope for them. Numerous organizations and rehabilitation programs are located in each state and will assist your loved one on the road to recovery and sobriety. Despite the staggeringly high statistics of individuals who abuse drugs both nationally and globally, each person has the ability to overcome their addiction and take their lives back. We can help them take the first step in that journey.
Trevor is a freelance writer and recovering addict & alcoholic who’s been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable. Trevor can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org