For some unknown reason, patients who enter hospitals or those who legitimately need prescription pain pills, rarely abuse these medications. The majority of people who abuse prescription pills are those who really do not need these medications in the first place.
For the health care professional, it is very difficult to differentiate from a patient who really needs a pain pill and one who is seeking to abuse pain pills.
Over the years, it has been observed that individuals who abuse prescription pills have certain behaviors. Warning behavior signs in individuals who abuse prescription drugs include the following:
- individuals who repeatedly claim to having lost their prescriptions and need a new script written
- Individuals who "doctor shop" to obtain more pills
- Individuals who take excessively higher doses of the prescription than recommended
- Individuals who steal, forge or buy stolen prescriptions
- Excessive mood changes such as anger, anxiety, depression, impulsivity, etc
The most common prescription drugs abused in North America are:
- Pain pills- both narcotic and non narcotic. This includes morphine, Demerol, and others like oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin)
- Sedatives and tranquilizers, such as xanax, ambien, diazepam (Valium), halcion and lorazepam (Ativan)
- Brain Stimulants, such as methylphenidate (Ritalin) and dexedrine — commonly used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.