How to Tell if You are Over-Medicated

Over-medication involves people using medications excessively or unnecessarily. Statistics compiled by the National Institutes of Health at the University of Chicago report that more than 25 million people in the United States take more than five medications. The problem increases with the age of a patient and is most prominent in the elderly community. Someone thinking that they are over-medicated should seek the advice of a physician or a pharmacist.

Suspecting Over-Medication

Victims of excessive medication offer suffer addiction, accidental overdose and drug interactions along with physical or psychological damage. Fatalities have also occurred. Due to the number and types of medications used, the list of symptoms associated with the problem are overwhelming. However, some of the more common tell-tale signs include:

• Unexplained general fatigue
Gastrointestinal problems
• Unexplained aches and pain
• Lack of coordination
• Multiple falls
• Unusual weight gain or loss
• Altered moods
• Lack of self-care
• Cognitive impairment related to concentration, memory or other thought processes
• Complaints of mental fogginess
• Experiencing hallucinations, delusions or having psychotic outbreaks
Withdrawal symptoms when the prescription runs out

Over-Medication Prevention

The dangers of receiving the wrong prescription or having too many prescriptions pose a real health hazard that could can impact a patient's life on many different levels. Before starting a new medication talk with the physician or with a pharmacist and learn more about the formulation. Know why you are receiving the prescription. Get information from a pharmacist or online databases concerning the side effects and drug interactions of all your medications. If you receive care from more than one physician, keep them informed about all the your current prescriptions, which should include OTC medications, herbal, vitamin or mineral supplements and illegal substances. Create a list of all the medications taken along with the doses. Include the frequencies and times that the medications are required.

Over-Medication and Addiction

Medications prescribed for attention-deficit disorders, chronic pain and depression all carry the possibility of addiction. Many are meant for short-term use only. Physical or psychological dependence begins when the body becomes tolerant to a current medication dose. The patient now no longer feels the effects of the drug. In this instance, the patient takes more than the prescribed dose or takes the medication more frequently with or without a physician's approval.

The individual may feel the need to get the same prescription from more than one physician. They might alternatively get a prescription filled at more than one pharmacy to ensure that they do not run out of the drug. Addicts feel that they can get through the day without the drug. Their world begins revolving around getting and taking the medication. If you see yourself in this scenario, seek help from a physician or an addiction specialist.

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "How to Tell if You are Over-Medicated," in PsychologyDictionary.org, February 21, 2016, https://psychologydictionary.org/article/how-to-tell-if-you-are-over-medicated/ (accessed October 17, 2019).
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