If your spouse or partner has begun to seem like a stranger and you know that they’ve been taking prescription drugs, they may be struggling with drug dependency. Many people who don’t fit the stereotype of a typical drug addict—responsible people with good jobs and loving family and friends—are becoming dependent on painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin or anti-anxiety medications like Xanax and Valium. In most cases, they begin taking prescription drugs for legitimate medical reasons including back injuries, car accidents, arthritis, depression or trauma.
They unsuspectingly then develop a physical dependence.
A Medical System that Has Inevitable Addiction Consequences
With prescription drug abuse at epidemic levels across the nation, many educated people with successful lives are becoming addicted to opiate drugs prescribed for pain and benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety. These medications are often prescribed by physicians who don’t provide their patients with adequate warnings about the danger of addiction. Other physicians write willingly prescriptions at the request of self-medicating patients who use prescription drugs to escape from anxiety and stress.
Adults who are dependent on prescription drugs often become secretive about their activities. As their body builds tolerance for their drug of abuse, they need to consume more to achieve the desired effect. They may begin to visit multiple doctors to obtain additional prescriptions. What seem to be new social contacts may actually be sources for black market prescription drugs. They may even experience a form of withdrawal when they try to terminate use of the drug.
Common Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse
Due to the wide range of prescription drugs that are subject to abuse, the symptoms of dependency can vary widely. These are some of the most common signs of prescription drug abuse:
• Changes in mood and personality, including increased hostility, anxiety and volatility.
• Change in energy level and sleep habits.
• Change in appetite or personal hygiene.
• Avoiding family and friends.
• Taking higher doses of medication than prescribed.
• “Losing” prescriptions and needing to get new ones.
• Visiting more than one doctor to obtain prescription drugs.
• Flu-like symptoms that may be signs of withdrawal.
If you suspect that changes in your spouse or partner are caused by prescription drugs abuse, encourage them to seek treatment for prescription drug addiction. If you are met with denial, talk to their doctor or an addiction specialist about getting help. Here is an article about what to say to a loved one who is addicted.
Prescription drug overdoses are also on the rise and ignoring the problem could bring serious consequences.