Doctors prescribe medications to help you with certain conditions, and usually, people will take them as directed. That’s because when you take prescriptions in a way other than intended by your doctor can lead to drug abuse or even death.

All hope is not lost when someone becomes addicted to certain medications, though. There is help with prescription drug abuse available to anyone who wants to get clean. Before it gets that far, you can take some steps to try to prevent such misuse. What’s important is to learn the signs, so you know when it’s time to seek help.

In The Beginning

When you choose to use prescription medicines in a way other than advised, you play a dangerous game with dire consequences. Why people contemplate or even begin to misuse prescriptions varies from person to person. Some are just curious and start experimenting where others are actively seeking that “high” feeling or unhealthily dealing with stress.

Many people are susceptible to abusing prescriptions. That increases if you have a background in using drugs or mental illness. Generally speaking, younger people are more prone to this type of drug abuse because of natural curiosity, peer pressure, and these medications’ availability. The most commonly abused drugs are painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants.

Side Effects

Side effects of addiction vary from drug to drug. The following are common symptoms:

  • Opioids: poor coordination, slowed breathing, confusion, feeling high and/or higher doses required to deal with pain.

  • Sedatives: unsteady walking, slurred speech, poor coordination, dizziness, and problems with memory.

  • Stimulants: irregular heartbeat, increased blood pressure and body temperature, reduced appetite, agitation, insomnia, and paranoia.

Other byproducts of addiction include extreme mood swings, poor decision-making, increased or decreased sleep, doctor shopping by looking for prescriptions from multiple physicians, and even stealing medications.

People who abuse prescribed medicines for an extended period of time develop a physical dependence. They continually have to take increased doses to achieve the same feeling they get from lesser doses. That is because the body builds up a tolerance. If you try to stop taking drugs suddenly or lower your dose, you can experience withdrawal effects.


In order to prevent misusing medicines that are intended to help you, there are a few guidelines to follow. The easiest one is only to take the medication as prescribed. Do not take higher or more frequent doses. If you think you may benefit from a dosing change, speak with your doctor and follow their advice and guidance. Remember, they are the medical expert who has your best interest at heart. They also know and understand the repercussions of an altered dose that will not benefit you.

As simple as it may sound, only take your own medicine. Sometimes when you have a friend with similar symptoms, it may be tempting to try their medication to see if it also helps you with your condition. It is essential to resist the temptation, regardless of how innocent. You can have problems that you’ve not considered, such as adverse reactions with other medications you may be taking.

Understand as much as you can about your prescription. Learn about potential side effects and what you can expect from starting a particular new medication. Also, make sure your doctor is aware of what other medications you are taking to avoid adverse interactions. Most importantly, if you have children at home, especially teens, be sure to keep your medicine in a safe and secure place to avoid them exploring their curiosity.

Becoming addicted to prescription medicines is preventable, but if you happen to recognize any of the above symptoms in yourself or a loved one, be sure you or the other person seeks help. It could save a life.