Child Custody

Prescription drug abuse

When people talk about drug abuse, they typically mean illegal drugs. Heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamines usually come to mind. And, yes, if you are using any of these, you need to get help as soon as possible.

But, what about those drugs you obtain with a prescription? Pain pills, muscle relaxers, mood modifiers, etc. can be a real problem as well. I’ve seen people who wouldn’t dream of using an illegal substance become so addicted to a prescription drug that they do things I’m sure if they were thinking straight, they’d never consider.

Do you go to more than one doctor to get pain pills, etc without letting each of them know about the other? Do you go to different pharmacies? Do you routinely take more than the recommended dosage? Do you find another doctor when one starts talking about weaning you off your medication? Do you sometimes go to the ER for pain because you know your own doctor won’t give you a prescription?

If you answered yes to any of those, you probably have a problem. One that is every bit as dangerous as one involving illegal substances.

I recently had a chat with someone who works as an investigator for a medical examiner’s office. He said that he’s seen more deaths from prescription abuse in the last year than from illegal drugs. I don’t doubt that at all.



When I worked as an investigator for family court services, there were cases where ordinarily law abiding citizens had been arrested for forging prescriptions. Or, they’d been arrested for having medication on their persons for which they had no prescription. Sometimes these illegally obtained drugs from the street weren’t quality drugs and someone ended up in the hospital.

Those who abuse prescribed medications have every bit of the same type of problems as those using illegal substances. And, as for parenting, it limits your ability in that regard as well.

If you’re high or zoned out, sleeping all day, you’re not doing the things that you need to do to take care of your child. You may be giving them the bare minimum, but that’s not all they need. And, if they’re very young, you’re putting them at risk.

For those of you involved in custody litigation, you’re just as prone to losing custody or having supervised visitation as someone using an illegal substance. You can be subject to drug testing and prescription drugs can and will be tested for. Just having a prescription won’t get you off the hook, either. The lab can test the levels of the drug in your system and usually determine if you’re taking more than you should be.

Most people don’t start out to abuse these types of prescriptions. But, some of them are addictive. There’s been a lot of media attention to this very problem with opioids. There have been several high profile deaths from opioid abuse recently. (Updated 8/10/2018) While you may have started using medication for a legitimate medical issue, it can quickly get out of hand. Make sure you take only as prescribed and are seeing your doctor regularly.

So, what should you do if you realize you have a problem? Talk with your doctor. If you really are dealing with a chronic issue such as pain, your doctor can help you find a specialist in pain management.

You may also need to seek the help of a mental health professional. Or, if bad enough, you may even need professional detox in the hospital. But, you need to get help as soon as possible. Not only for yourself, but for your kids.

I’m not minimizing any conditions you may have with pain. I certainly understand what it’s like to live with chronic pain. I’ve done so for many years. I’ve had to learn other methods to deal with pain. And, it’s not easy. I don’t expect your path will be easy either. But, there is help available.


Originally posted at rhondahopkins.com. This article may have been amended to fit the needs of this site.


I am not an attorney, a medical professional, or a mental health professional. These are my observations with twenty years experience working with families and children. Please seek the appropriate guidance as needed. 

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