Most people erroneously believe that prescription medications are entirely safe to use since they were approved by the FDA and recommended by a medical doctor. However, the fact is that prescription medications are drugs – chemical substances designed to interfere with the normal functions of the human brain, central nervous system and body. Because of this, prescription medications run the same risks of misuse, abuse and addiction as other legal and illicit drugs, even when initially used exactly as recommended. However, one may consider that prescription drugs have the potential to be even more dangerous simply because the individual often doesn’t recognize their full dangers, and may even consider them safe to abuse. Abused Prescription Drugs Many times, drug use begins in order to solve a problem, but continues into abuse and addiction when the individual seeks to continually experience a highly pleasurable or euphoric sensation. For this reason, not all prescription drugs run a high risk of misuse, abuse and addiction because not all prescription drugs create highly pleasurable or euphoric sensations. Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs are those that have mind-altering properties, such as: ● Opioid pain relievers like Oxycontin and Vicodin. ● Anti-anxiety medications, sedatives and hypnotics like Xanax, Valium, and Ambien. ● Stimulants like Ritalin. An individual who is misusing or abusing their prescription medications needs immediate treatment in order to address and resolve this problem and prevent the extensive physical, mental and emotional damages that often occur as a result of prescription drug addiction. Some of the primary signs of prescription drug misuse include: ● Constipation ● Drowsiness ● Significant and sudden weight loss ● Depression ● Confusion ● Agitation ● Low blood pressure ● Unsteady coordination and walking ● Irritability ● Decreased respiration ● Poor judgement ● Insomnia ● Confusion ● High blood pressure ● Unusual and excessive sweating ● Dizziness ● Irregular heartbeat ● Restlessness ● Impulsive behavior ● Stealing or forging prescriptions ● Tolerance of prescription medication, which may lead to the individual taking higher doses than prescribed or recommended ● Sudden and dramatic mood swings ● Hostility ● Difficulty falling or staying asleep ● Making poor decisions ● Periods of unusual energy or sedation ● Constant explanations of “lost” prescriptions, requiring new ones to be written ● Seeking treatment from more than one doctor for the same condition An individual who is using their prescription medication for any reason other than the one it was prescribed for is misusing their medication and is therefore in danger of prescription drug abuse and addiction problems. Perhaps they explain that they need their medication to feel good, to relax, to increase alertness, to prevent withdrawal symptoms, to improve concentration or some other reason. In any case, using prescription medication for any reason other than the one it was intended to handle is dangerous. Getting Treatment It is very important that an individual who feels that their prescription medication is no longer working, feels that they want to take more of it than prescribed, or feels that they are experiencing adverse side effects, contacts their prescribing doctor immediately. Some individuals may find these situations embarrassing, but it is far better to be subtly embarrassed in front of a professional who is trained to help someone maintain their health than struggle through the damages that can be caused by prescription medication addiction. Medical professionals are trained to recognize the signs of prescription misuse, and help their patients rapidly remedy this situation when it occurs. When seeking to help an individual get treatment for their prescription misuse problems, it is important to remember that it is much easier to handle prescription misuse than it is to handle prescription addiction, and one may find that their health, their relationships and their life benefit greatly from early detection and prevention strategies.