Prescription Medication: From Hollywood to Hillbrow

Prescription Medication: From Hollywood to Hillbrow

Like alcohol, prescription medication is standard in our lives. It is the ‘norm.’ We don’t raise an eye when we see someone chug down medication – as long as it comes in a nice prescription bottle. Doctors’ orders you know.

Society hands out prescription meds like sweets. You are tired? Have a Stillnox. You are struggling to concentrate? Have Ritalin. You are stressed? Try a Lexitan, Adderall or Valium. Or all three! The list goes on.

Due to the normalcy surrounding these pills, this kind of addiction is probably the least recognised or acknowledged of the chemical dependencies. It is the addiction of housewives, Hollywood stars and bored students. Prescription medication addiction is dangerous and prevalent in society, something that should be understood not ignored.

What are the signs or symptoms of prescription drug abuse?

Prescription medication either works by promoting chemical reactions in the brain – or supressing chemical reactions.

The three classes of prescription medication that are most susceptible to abuse are


Did someone say Ritalin? Stimulants are mostly prescribed to assist those with some sort of hyperactivity disorder. This is also popular amongst students, helping them study throughout the nights. This drug is given to kids often and is often referred to as “Kiddie Cocaine.” And for good reason. It has just about the same effects – it’s just ‘legal.’

Symptoms of Stimulants Abuse:

• Severe irritability or agitation
• Irregular heartbeat
• High blood pressure
• Elevated body temperatures
• Seizures
• Cardiovascular failure
• Rising Hostility
• Paranoia
• Insomnia for days at a time
• Unexplained weight loss


Codeine hides in numerous prescription medication. Calming the user down, encouraging sleepiness and a sense of overwhelming tranquillity. Opiates are prescribed for chronic pain – think morphine. And then think heroin. Yes, heroin.

Symptoms of Opiate Abuse:

Opiate painkillers are prescribed millions of times per year for legal purposes. Some opiate abusers continue using opiates following a legal prescription for a medical condition, while others seek out painkillers either for medical or psychiatric relief. Common symptoms of the abuse of prescription painkillers may include:

• Disorientation
• Confusion
• Constipation
• Shortness of breath
• Depression
• Rapid decrease in blood pressure

Abuse of opiates or painkillers may be distinguishable by withdrawal symptoms experienced when attempting to stop using. These symptoms show potential for serious medical complications and should be taken very seriously:

• Cold flashes
• Involuntary leg movements
• Restlessness
• Sharp bone and muscle pains
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Cardiac arrest
• Seizures


I used to adore my tranquilizers. Especially when I was in high school. The scary thing is how easy they were and still are to get. My mother used to hand them out like popsicles. I thought it was normal to take a pill before a math exam. Tranquillizers are prescribed to treat anxiety – something we are all easily diagnosed with. Thus we think it is ok to drink down some calming pills throughout the day.

Symptoms of Tranquillizer Abuse:

A person abusing sedatives usually isn’t aware of how it impacts their appearance or behaviour. The most visible symptoms of sedative abuse include:

• Drowsy and Woozy appearance
• Confusion about time and surroundings
• Unsteady mannerism and movements
• Involuntary gestures, movements or tics
• Rapid and involuntary eye movement
• Poor decision-making
• Memory loss or difficulty with memory

Am I a Prescription Pill Addict: Drug Seeking Behaviour?

Drug-seeking behaviours are warning signs of prescription drug abuse. These addict-like behaviours include:

• Recurrent requests for refills from Doctors
• Losing prescriptions and requesting emergency replacements regularly
• Crushing pills
• Stealing or borrowing prescription medications from family members, friends, or co-workers
• Consuming prescriptions much faster than stated by the prescription
• Visiting a variety of doctors for similar medical conditions
• Inconsistent answers to questions about prescription usage
• Stealing or forging prescriptions
• Consumption of over-the-counter drugs for the same conditions that a doctor has prescribed other medication
• Ordering prescription medications over the internet

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