Risks factors & warning signs of prescription misuse

Know what to look for if you suspect your child is misusing prescription medication

Risk Factors

While anyone can misuse prescription painkillers, there are some behaviors that may make someone more likely to misuse and become addicted. Some research shows youth are more likely to misuse prescription drugs if they:

  • Feel academic pressure or struggle to maintain balance between schoolwork, grades and extracurricular activities
  • Want to fit in or bond with peers or gain acceptance
  • Have easier access to prescription drugs (inside a home medicine cabinet, for instance)
  • Have easier access to prescription drugs for an injury or medical procedure
  • Have a family history of drug or alcohol dependence

As a parent, the best thing you can do is talk to your kids about opioids, discuss alternatives to opioids with prescribers, and take precautions to ensure that kids or other family members at risk do not have access to opioids.

Resources are available to help those who want to quit.

Warning Signs of Prescription Misuse

The symptoms of drug misuse and addiction can vary depending upon the person and the drug being misused. Some of the warning signs include:

  • Pills or medication bottles are missing from your home
  • Taking medication in excess of how it has been prescribed
  • Abrupt changes in their finances
  • Dramatic mood changes 
  • Lower grades, changes in friends, or changes in sleep or appetite
  • Loss of concern about appearance 
  • Physical signs such as fatigue, confusion, weight loss, slurred speech and dizziness

Objects That Might Be Clues:

These are items that may be found in a bedroom, car or purse of someone who uses drugs:

  • Cotton swab heads and sticks
  • Cotton balls
  • Small caps
  • Rolled dollar bill
  • Empty pen stick
  • Cigarette filter
  • Bent spoon
  • Syringe
  • One edge of a razor blade
  • Empty pill bottle
  • Belt with teeth marks
  • Bottle caps
  • Tin foil with burn marks
  • Little or mini plastic bags

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