How will I Tell If I am Overmedicated?

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Last Updated on May 16, 2021 by Atif

On overmedication, the National Institute on Drug Abuse finds out that Americans use 75% of the globe’s prescription drugs. At any given time, almost one-third of all adults in the United States are taking a prescription drug. Every month, almost half of the United States population takes a prescription drug. About 11% of people take five or more prescription medications.

Medication serves a purpose; you use it to relieve bodily, mental, or psychological discomfort. Medicine is an essential tool for wellness when administered and taken appropriately. Sadly, in our rapidly and exhausting lives, it’s always easier to access the prescription bottle than it will be to deal with problems that don’t involve medication. Medicine seems to have a place in society. Still, in America, many citizens use overmedication to avoid taking care of their health and well-being in more natural ways resulting in a significant amount of overuse.

When is it appropriate to say “enough of medications,” and when is it inappropriate to say “too much medications”? It is vital to learn more about overmedication, prescription drug abuse, and your health in order to address these questions.

Definition of Overmedication

When you are experiencing overmedication, you are taking more drugs or more of the same drug than your body needs.  Too much medicine is not only a waste of resources, but it can also lead to severe health problems. Overmedication can also be said to be:

  • Many people abuse drugs by taking too many at once without knowing the time, quantity, or method of administration. 
  • You are taking medications that are not needed. People take some medicines to assist or help the body function even though they are not required by the body to function.
  • You are using drugs too soon. This entails taking medications based on suspicions of illnesses or diseases without first seeking confirmation from a doctor or physician.

The Following are Some of the Possible Side Effects of Overmedication:

  • Addiction and substance abuse disorders
  • Such concerns on mental health
  • Drug reactions that are dangerous
  • Adverse side effects and physical health problems are more likely

The amount of harm caused by improper prescription medication which is a form of overmedication is enormous. In 2014, almost 1.3 million people visited emergency rooms in the United States due to adverse drug effects, with around 124,000 of them dying. Estimates based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration suggest that this is the case. According to other reports, up to half of those incidents of overmedication could have been avoided.

>>> READ THIS NEXT: Indications of Mental Health and Addiction Co-Occurrence 

The Factors That Can Cause Overmedication

There are Many Reasons and Contributors to Overmedication. The Following are Some Examples:

  • Errors by a pharmacist or a doctor
  • Other or numerous prescriptions unknown to pharmacists or doctors. Patients can see a number of doctors who do not communicate with one another about the medications they are prescribed. According to recent figures, one out of every four patients has prescriptions from at least four different doctors leading to an increase in overmedication.
  • Dosage or use error caused by the person
  • Additional medical problems that have yet to be diagnosed
  • Approaches to physical and mental health treatment that prioritize medication
  • When you take medications even though they are no longer required. There is also evidence that a significant number of people are taking antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and pain killers when they are not needed.
  • Health practitioners and pharmacists engage in deliberate doctor shopping or pharmacy fraud.
  • When you use a lot of over-the-counter (OTC) medications without consulting a doctor first. Many of these drugs may not be appropriate for your health problem.
  • Since there are more medications available for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, overmedication has risen over the last decade. 
  • There is still a disconnect between insurers, physicians, and pharmacies.

Overmedication is widespread because there are so many possible triggers, and it affects people of all ages around the world.

The Signs and Symptoms of Overmedication

Overmedication symptoms and signs are difficult to recognize. They may resemble other mental or physical health problems, leading to a new medication or even the illness for which they were prescribed. When several drugs are involved in overmedication, diagnosing the situation becomes much more difficult. Because of the possible experiences, symptoms can be endless or unpredictable.

However, Some of the More Common Signs of Overmedication Include the Following:

  • Fatigue and energy depletion
  • Pressure in the abdomen
  • Aches and pains in the body
  • Problems with balance and motor skills
  • Fatalities and falls
  • Rashes and flushing of the skin on a regular basis
  • Weight gain or loss that is not clarified
  • Mood swings are frequent, and there is a lack of personal hygiene.
  • Concentration problems
  • Impairment of memory
  • Confusion or cloudiness of mind
  • Delayed decision-making
  • Inability to think rationally
  • Psychosis, hallucinations, and delusions
  • Symptoms of withdrawal when not using

To simply put, if you do not feel like you can — physically or psychologically — speak to your doctor about the drugs you are taking before talking about other options to avoid overmedication.

How to Prevent Overmedication

A bad drug interaction or overmedication can put you in the hospital or cause you to overdose. According to PBS, “elderly people qualify for about 35% of all hospitalizations, but more than half of the appointments  are overshadowed by drug-related complications.”   And elderly patients are not the only ones who suffer from overmedication’s harmful effects.

According to Consumer Reports, “nearly 1.3 million patients were admitted into the U.S. emergency rooms due to unfavorable opioid effects in 2014, and approximately 124,000 people died as a result of those occurrences.” Many of them were linked to the use of prescription and even non-prescription drugs. “Research shows that approximately 50 percent of those accidents were preventable,” Consumer Reports continues.  What then are our options for dealing with overmedication? How do we defend ourselves and everyone we care about? Overmedication may be prevented or addressed by effective communication. As previously stated, make sure the doctor and pharmacist are both aware of what you are doing, how much you are taking, and when you are taking it. Also, make sure you are doing the following:

  • Keep all of your physicians and medical health professionals up to date with all of your treatments, including over-the-counter medications, nutritional supplements, prescription drugs, and even illicit medicines.
  • Any and all side effects should be recorded, even if they seem irrelevant or insignificant.
  • Please make a list of all your drugs, when and how to administer them, and dose quantities to stay coordinated. Bring this list with you to the doctor’s office or the pharmacy.
  • Request a thorough drug check from your doctor to ensure that you really need or should be taking the drugs you are taking and that you are using them correctly. Ask your doctor these questions at any visit: Is it true that I am on the right dosage? What do I do if I forget to take a dose? Is it better to take this drug with food or water? Is it possible to reduce the dosage or stop taking this medication? Is there anything else I can do but take this medication? Finding answers to these questions will help stay clear of overmedication.
  • Please do not use any drug your doctor recommends without first researching its function and possible side effects, interactions, or complications.
  • Learn about opioid dependency and addiction, and be on the lookout for signs and symptoms so you can intervene quickly if necessary.
  •  Must take chronic illness drugs for an extended period of time or the rest of their lives. Many people with mildly elevated cholesterol, blood pressure, or blood sugar levels will reduce their drug use if they make lifestyle improvements that put their conditions under control – although there is much too little focus on doing so. Rather than causing harm to the body by engaging in overmedication, look for natural ways to strengthen yourself.
  • Learn the truth about antipsychotic medications. They are often prescribed to nursing home residents to help with anxiety or distress caused by dementia. On the other hand, these powerful medications can only be used to treat severe mental disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They can cause delirium, heart failure, and even death. Since the medications do not explicitly answer what the individual is trying to convey to caregivers, they often do not alter dementia conduct. If your loved one has a prescription of antipsychotics, inquire as to why the medication was specified in the first place. What other options are there to consider? What is the strategy for reducing or eliminating the drug’s use to avoid overmedication?

Most significantly, seek assistance when you need it to avoid overmedication. Do not be afraid to ask questions, disclose side effects, seek second opinions, or seek alternative mental health or addiction treatment options.

We are here to assist you and tell you more about your health and drugs better, and we are available at any time. Call Dual Diagnosis at 615-490-9376 to have more understanding about overmedication and how to find solutions that are right for you. We will help you answer any question you might have or whether you are ready to start care right away on overmedication.