The abuse of prescription pills is one of the most serious things facing the U.S. right now. It’s in the national spotlight as thousands of people are overdosing and dying on these drugs. In fact, according to CBS News, around 12 million people said they used prescription painkillers for non-medical reasons over the past year. The number of newborns born addicted to opioids tripled over the past ten years, in large part because of prescription drugs like hydrocodone and oxycodone.
Opioid addiction, which includes pills, is different from many other addictions because it changes the brain in very specific ways that fuel the continued use of these drugs. The American Society of Addiction Medicine and the National Institute on Drug Abuse describe it as a chronic brain disease.
There are treatment options that can be effective for pill addictions, but a big part of how to help a pill addict relies on understanding the signs that you’re living with a pill addict.
There can be quite a few signs you’re living with a pill addict, but some of the biggest and most common include the following:
- When you’re living with a pill addict, that person may seem very tired or tend to have a lack of energy. People who use prescription pills may look like they’re about to fall asleep at any moment, and they may become so tired that they skip other activities they once did or enjoyed.
- When you’re living with a pill addict, they may start to seem to have trouble focusing, or they may lose their sense of motivation. This can mean that they experience problems at work or school. Opioid drugs like prescription pills make it hard to maintain a high performance level in various activities. This is why one of the primary signs you’re living with a pill addict include missing school or work, or declining performance in these areas.
- Relationships start to suffer when you’re living with a pill addict. They may not be able to maintain their former activities or their relationships, and instead, they may isolate themselves, or they may start to spend time with new groups of people, often who share the same behaviors.
- Changes in appearance often occur with any addiction, including pill addiction. Some of these changes in appearance you may notice when living with a pill addict include pinpoint pupils, itching, flushing, nodding off or slurred speech.
- If you start to feel like your loved one is being secretive or elusive, it may be a sign of a pill addiction. People who have a chronic prescription opioid addiction will often have to do things that are illegal to obtain more pills, and they may also want to keep the details of their addiction away from the people around them.
So what can you do if you recognize these signs? What are the ways how to help someone with a pill addiction?
It’s incredibly difficult to know how to help someone with a pill addiction because it’s a disease that changes the person’s thoughts, attitudes and behaviors. With opioid addiction, in particular, it’s incredibly hard to overcome, but it is possible.
One of the first ways how to help someone with a pill addiction is to educate yourself and learn as much about addiction and pills as you can. You can also contact a health professional, a therapist or an interventionist who can help you understand the best next steps to take, and if you’re going to, how to have an intervention.
You should also outline your own boundaries and explain them to the addict in clear terms. You want to set consequences and stick to them when you’re living with a pill addict. Sometimes how to help someone with a pill addiction relies on your ability to display tough love and protect yourself while encourage them to seek treatment.
You should also make sure that you’re not enabling the person, by hiding their secrets or doing things that can mitigate the consequences of the addict’s actions. You want them to experience the full weight of the consequences of their addiction as part of motivating them to seek treatment.
As with other chronic diseases, there is the possibility for treatment to work to help someone with a pill addiction, but it requires a lot of work.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.