Prescription and Illicit Drug Abuse

Frequently Asked Questions

8. What are warning signs of medication abuse?

A person’s behavior, especially changes in behavior, can signal a possible substance abuse problem. For example, you may notice that an older adult seems worried about whether a medicine is “really working,” or complains that a doctor refuses to write a prescription. He or she may have new problems doing everyday tasks or withdraw from family, friends, and normal activities.

Other possible warning signs include

  • rapid increases in the amount of medication needed
  • frequent requests for refills of certain medicines
  • a person not seeming like themselves (showing a general lack of interest or being overly energetic)
  • "doctor shopping" -- moving from provider to provider in an effort to get several prescriptions for the same medication
  • use of more than one pharmacy
  • false or forged prescriptions.