How to identify a prescription drug addict

Prescription drug addictions are becoming more and more commonplace. Identifying and treating a prescription drug addict early on is important. Keep reading here to find out more about how to identify a prescription drug addict. Then, we invite your questions about helping Rx drug addicts at the end.

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A prescription drug addiction may be somewhat difficult to spot at first, but it’s important to catch it early. Treating this addiction in the early stages generally increases the chances of a successful recovery, and minimizes the damage that addicts can do to themselves and others.

Here, we review how you can identify the common signs of a prescription drug addict.  Then, we invite your questions about identifying and helping an Rx drug addict at the end.

Identifying prescription drug addiction

The following list includes some of the more common signs of prescription drug addiction.

  • defensive actions when confronted about drug usage
  • drug-seeking behavior, such as doctor shopping, frequent trips to emergency rooms, and claims of lost or stolen prescriptions
  • exaggerating symptoms in an effort to get more of the drug
  • inability to cut back on or quit using the drug
  • inability to perform daily tasks or participate in activities due to drug usage
  • mood swings
  • preoccupation with taking or obtaining the drug
  • taking prescription medications at higher doses or more frequently than necessary
  • withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not taken

A person’s doctor can accurately diagnose a prescription drug addiction. To do this, the doctor will conduct a physical examination as well as examine how a person uses their preferred prescription drug.  Additionally, you can confirm prescription drug addiction by scheduling a screening or assessment with a psychiatrist or licensed clinical psychologist.

Identify prescription drug addiction…now what?

After an addiction is identified, the next step for a prescription drug addict is usually drug rehab. Since many prescription drug addicts won’t admit or don’t think that they have a problem, though, this can be very difficult.

Interventions sometimes work well to get a prescription drug addict to realize that they may have a problem. You can plan an informal intervention with a loved one, or seek professional help from an addiction interventionist. The goal of an intervention is to address your concerns about drug addiction. During an intervention, a prescription drug addict then has the choice to continue using drugs or seek help.  Often, multiple interventions may be required before a person finally is ready to stop abusing prescription drugs.

After a prescription drug addict agrees to getting help, an addiction specialist will then need to perform an assessment on a prescription drug addict before they enter treatment. This usually involves determining the severity of the addiction. Based on the addict’s individual situation, a treatment care plan is also usually decided upon at this time. This can include detox, inpatient, and outpatient treatment, as well as intensive therapy and counseling.

Help for prescription drug addict questions

While there are a number of places that offer help for prescription drug addicts, questions are often inevitable during this stressful time. The good news is that no one has to face a prescription drug addiction alone. If you or a loved one is struggling with a prescription drug addiction, feel free to leave any questions or concerns you may have in the comments section below. We’re always here to help, and we’ll respond to you as soon as we can.

Reference Sources: NIH Senior Health: Prescription and Illicit Drug Abuse
FDA: Combating Misuse and Abuse of Prescription Drugs: Q&A with Michael Klein, Ph.D.
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.
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