Prescription Drug Abuse in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario

Prescription Drug Abuse in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario

What Is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Prescribed medications taken for any other purpose other than the intent of the doctor prescribing the drugs are considered to be prescription substance abuse. This can range anywhere from overusing a drug you have been prescribed to taking someone else’s prescription to get high. Reliance on the drug will build and this will become a regular irresistible occurrence despite the negative outcome.

Early detection of prescribed substance abuse can impede the path of being an issue, to avoid turning to addiction.

prescription drug abuse in young adult

Frequently Occurring Prescription Drugs That Are Abused

Opioids: Opioids, like fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, and hydromorphone; are medications that help relieve pain. However, opioids are also available illegally. Illegal opioids are any opioids that are made, shared, or sold illegally. The most common forms are; Codeine, Oxycodone, Methadone, Hydromorphone, and Fentanyl. Opioids can be pharmaceutical-grade and prescribed by physicians and surgeons. Prescription opioids can end up for illegal sale on the street. These can be “cut: or tainted with other compounds, including fentanyl.


Stimulants: Stimulants are Amphetamines such as Adderall, Dexedrine, and Mydayis. These are prescribed for the treatment of attention deficit disorders and some sleep disorders. These are becoming more frequently abused by university students, to enhance focus and attention to improve their academic standing.


Signs of Opioid Abuse:

  • Increase or decrease in appetite; changes in eating habits, unexplained weight loss or gain.
  • A smell of substance on breath, body, or clothes
  • Extreme hyperactivity; excessive talkativeness
  • Needle marks or bruises on lower arm, legs, or bottom of feet
  • Change in overall attitude/personality with no other identifiable causes
  • Change in friends; new hang-outs, avoidance of old crowd, new friends are drug users.
  • Change in activities; loss of interest in things that were important before.
  • Drop in school or work performance; skips or is late to school or work.
  • Changes in habits at home; loss of interest in family and family activities
  • Difficulty in paying attention; forgetfulness
  • Lack of motivation, energy, self-esteem, and discipline. Bored, “I don’t care” attitude.
  • Defensiveness, temper tantrums, resentful behaviour (everything’s a hassle)
  • Unexplained moodiness, irritability, or nervousness
  • Violent temper or bizarre behaviour
  • Unexplained silliness or giddiness
  • Paranoia – overly suspicious
  • Excessive need for privacy; keeps the door locked or closed, won’t let people in.
  • Secretive or suspicious behaviour
  • Car accidents, fender benders, household accidents
  • Chronic dishonesty; trouble with the police.
  • Unexplained need for money; can’t explain where their money goes; stealing.
  • Unusual effort to cover arms and legs.
  • Change in personal grooming habits
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia


Asian man a video telemedicine call with a doctor.

Adderall Abuse Symptoms:

  • Increased alertness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Paranoia
  • Insomnia and when sleeping, sleeping for long periods
  • Anxiety
  • Being overly talkative
  • Loss of appetite
  • Social withdrawal
  • Aggression
  • Secretive behaviour
  • Exhaustion
  • Excessive weight loss
  • Memory loss
  • Incomplete thoughts
  • Frequently taking prescription
  • Running out of prescriptions quickly
  • Overworking and stellar focus.


Negative Consequences of Adderall Abuse

It is a common misconception by those who abuse Adderall, that it is safe to do so because it is a prescribed medication. The reason Adderall is prescribed is that it specifically helps those who have an attention deficit disorder. Individuals who take this drug and do not have an attention deficit disorder may feel an increase in energy levels and euphoric experiences but at the end of the day, Adderall is a stimulant that can have negative effects, deadly even.


Other signs of Prescription Substance Abuse may include:

  • Stealing or selling prescriptions
  • Taking higher doses than prescribed
  • Excessive mood swings
  • Poor decision making
  • Requesting early refills or continually “misplacing” prescription
  • Seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor


Motivating Factors to Take Drugs for Teens and Young Adults:

  • To feel good or get high
  • To relax or alleviate tension
  • To reduce appetite or increase awareness
  • For experimental purposes
  • To prevent withdrawal
  • Peer pressure


Prescription substance abuse is considered as taking drugs for any purpose other than the intent of the doctor giving the prescription. This makes prescription substance abuse a major health risk in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario alone, not including the rest of the world. “In 2021 88% of poisoning hospitalizations involving opioids and 85% of poisoning hospitalizations involving stimulants occurred in British Columbia, Alberta or Ontario”. (Government of Canada, 2021).“As well as “88% of all accidental apparent opioid toxicity deaths occurred in British Columbia, Alberta or Ontario” (Government of Canada, 2021).


When to Intervene

An intervention is facilitated by those closest to the abuser, whether it be a friend or family member, working with an interventionist to execute a well-thought-out plan to achieve the goal of rehabilitation. The ultimate goal is long-term recovery.


Interventions have the opportunity to be the turning point for your loved one. The difference between its success and its failure can come down to what has been put into it. A plan must be formed to achieve the goal, our goal is long-term rehabilitation. To allow room for a smooth transition from life as an addict to the road to rehabilitation, a consultation with an intervention specialist will help execute an effective intervention.


Finding the right intervention specialist for your loved one can make all the difference. Someone who can relate to your loved one, someone who has walked a similar path, someone who has the knowledge to share and wisdom to divulge.


Associated Risks with Prescription Substance Abuse

It is a fear among many, post-surgery or a diagnosed medical condition, that they may become addicted to the medications prescribed to them by their doctor. This fear and risks associated with it can be mitigated by following your doctor’s specific directions on how to take these substances. Prescription substance abuse can occur at any age, recurrently in teenagers and young adults.


Risks associated with prescription substance abuse include:

  • A history or present addictions to other substances, including alcohol.
  • Family history of addiction and substance abuse
  • The presence of peer pressure or atmosphere where substance abuse takes place.
  • Access to prescription medications, either prescribed to you or someone else.
  • Minimal understanding of prescription substances and their ability to harm


Prescription Substance Abuse in Older Adults

Seniors and prescription substance abuse is an increasing issue. The older you get, the more likely you will acquire more and more health problems, which will lead to taking multiple prescriptions. The risk of misusing these drugs is high in older adults, especially when taking these substances with alcohol. All leading to a higher possibility of addiction.


Medical Repercussions of Prescription Substance Abuse


  • Lead to low blood pressure
  • Slowed breathing rate / potentially stop breathing
  • Coma
  • Death



  • Dangerously high body temperature
  • Heart problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Seizures or tremors
  • Hallucinations
  • Aggressiveness
  • Paranoia


low blood pressure senior


Preventing Prescription Substance Abuse in Teens

  • Talk about the dangers. Make it common knowledge that just because a doctor has prescribed the drug, does not mean that it is safe, especially if it was prescribed for someone else.
  • Talk about the hazard of mixing alcohol with the prescribed medication. This can increase the risk of an accidental overdose.
  • Set regulations. Make your teen aware that it is not ok to share prescribed substances or take substances prescribed to someone else.
  • Highlight the importance of only taking the dose prescribed by the doctor
  • Ensure substances are not being ordered online. You don’t know what you will be receiving.
  • Correct discarding of substances. Get rid of unused or expired substance or substances. Examine the label or patient instructions for proper disposal.


Preventing Prescription Substance Abuse

  • Ensure you are being prescribed the correct medication. Be precise about your condition and the symptoms you are experiencing. The information you tell the doctor is what the doctor will go off of when diagnosing and prescribing. Inform the doctor about all the medications you are currently on, including over-the-counter, and why you are on them. Discuss with the doctor if there is a different medication you can take that has less addictive qualities.
  • Follow the instructions precisely. Use the medication the way it has been prescribed to use. Do not change your dosage if it doesn’t seem right without consulting your doctor (If your dosage doesn’t seem to be helping alleviate your pain, do not take more).
  • Understand what your prescription does. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist and research the effects of your medication, this allows you to be prepared for what to expect. Check if your prescription should not interact with other medications or alcohol.
  • Never use another individual’s prescription. You may have a similar medical condition as someone, and even then do not use someone else’s prescription. Everyone is different and dosage is prescribed to the individual, not the general population.
  • Follow up with your doctor. Check in with your doctor to ensure the medication you are taking and the dosage you are taking the prescription at is working for you.

Call us today and let us help you set up a treatment plan that has succeeded as the long-term goal, for someone you care for.


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