Prescription Drug Addiction
Dangerous Addictions Caused by Prescription Drugs
While most people take their prescriptions as directed, some people misuse or abuse them, either intentionally or unintentionally due to the addictive nature of certain prescription drugs. According to the National Institute On Drug Abuse, more than 18 million people in 2017 admitted that they misused prescribed medications within the last 12 months. Not using prescription medications as directed can cause an unsafe dependence or addiction. Prescription drugs can be just as addictive and dangerous as “street-level” drugs, too, and even be a “gateway drug” that leads to the use of other illicit substances.
On This Page:
- What is Prescription Drug Abuse?
- What Prescription Drugs are Commonly Abused?
- Dangers of Prescription Drug Addiction
- Warning Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction
- How to Help Someone with Prescription Drug Addiction
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to prescription drugs, call (888) 229-7989 today for help.
What is Prescription Drug Abuse?
Prescription drug abuse occurs whenever a prescription medication is used in ways that do not match the doctor’s instructions. Using pills from other people’s prescriptions or taking pills that are not prescribed to you is also prescription drug abuse. For example, someone may enjoy the way pain pills make them feel, so they steal some of their relative’s pain medication. Another person may lie to their doctor about increased anxiety symptoms so they can get a prescription for anti-anxiety medication that they will abuse.
This kind of drug abuse can turn into an addiction quite easily. Once you become addicted to the drug, it can be quite challenging to stop using it, as withdrawal symptoms can be intensely uncomfortable. However, when you can identify the problem early, you can achieve freedom from drug dependency with proper professional treatment. Even when prescription drug abuse has progressed into full-blown addiction, healing and recovery are possible.
What Prescription Drugs are Commonly Abused?
While any prescription medication has the potential for misuse and abuse, some are more likely to lead to substance use disorders, such as addiction. Generally speaking, prescription medications that significantly alter pathways and processes in the brain—including pain medications, opioids, benzodiazepines, and anti-anxiety medications—have the highest potential for misuse, abuse, and addiction. Someone who has become addicted to a prescription medication could have a “chemical addiction,” which means that their brain and/or body have become dependent on the drug to maintain a typical level of certain chemicals.
Some of the most abused prescription drugs include:
- Adderall: Amphetamine used to treat ADHD
- OxyContin: Narcotic painkiller
- Percocet: Opioid painkiller
- Vicodin: Potent painkiller
- Ritalin: ADHD stimulant
- Valium and Xanax: Benzodiazepines for anxiety
Dangers of Prescription Drug Addiction
Prescription drug addiction is a real and dangerous problem that affects millions of people in the United States each year. These drugs are often over-prescribed without knowledge of how addictive they can be, leading to life-altering consequences for those who cannot control their usage. In many parts of the country, prescription drugs are abused more than illicit drugs like cocaine or heroin, leading to overdoses, organ failure, and other traumatic physical conditions.
The physical effects of prescription drug addiction can include:
- Heart damage
- Respiratory failure
- Unsafe weight loss
- Chronic pain
- And more
The psychological effects of prescription drug addiction can include:
- Mood swings
- Suicidal ideations
- Memory problems
- And more
Warning Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction
Whether you are concerned about your own prescription drug use, or you are worried that a loved one may be abusing prescription medications, it isn’t always easy to spot prescription drug misuse, abuse, and addiction. In fact, because so many people take prescription medications—and so many misuse or abuse those medications—it can often feel like your or your loved one’s habits are no big deal.
However, prescription drug abuse is a serious issue that, if left unaddressed, can develop into addiction. Once an individual is addicted to a substance, they are likely to experience numerous negative effects in their life. Additionally, it is much harder to stop taking a drug once the body has become physically dependent on it.
Some of the most common signs of prescription drug abuse include:
- Increased Usage – When someone takes drugs over a prolonged period of time, they begin to grow tolerant to the effects. As a result, they will often begin increasing the dosage to get the same effects and/or start taking the drug more often. If you’re using your medication more and/or at higher doses, you could become addicted.
- Continued Use of the Drug Despite Negative Consequences – If someone becomes dependent on prescription drugs, they may continue to use or abuse it even when they begin to experience negative consequences. This leads some people to “doctor shop,” or seek new/additional doctors to prescribe them their medication because they’ve run out too soon.
- Stealing, Borrowing, or Buying Prescription Drugs – If you’re “borrowing” or stealing medication from family or friends, or buying prescription drugs illegally, you are abusing the drug and could be dependent on it. If your prescription medications have mysteriously gone missing, or if someone in your household is asking to take your medications, your loved one may have a problem with prescription drug abuse or addiction.
- Experiencing Withdrawal Symptoms – You may begin to experience various withdrawal symptoms if you go a certain amount of time without taking the medication. Although these symptoms depend on the type of drug being taken, some common prescription drug withdrawal symptoms include nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating, muscle aches, joint pain, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, tremors, dilated pupils, and increased heart rate.
Other signs may include feelings of guilt or shame associated with use, difficulty fulfilling responsibilities due to drug-seeking behavior, changes in mood or personality, physical deterioration, financial difficulties associated with buying drugs, and relationship troubles. If any of these signs are present in someone you know, they may be struggling with addiction and should seek professional help immediately.
How to Help Someone with Prescription Drug Addiction
Rehab is an important part of recovery for those struggling with prescription drug addiction. Through customized treatment plans and therapies, we provide the necessary tools and support to help individuals work towards lasting sobriety. From detoxification and counseling sessions to group therapy and nutrition and wellness programs, our prescription drug addiction treatment centers are designed to address the underlying issues that may have led to the addiction in the first place, as well as help develop healthy coping mechanisms to prevent relapse.
To learn more about SOBA New Jersey and how we help people overcome prescription drug addiction, please dial (888) 229-7989 or contact us online now.
Find more information about our prescription drug addiction treatment options here.
At times, you can feel lost and confused when struggling with addiction or mental health. Our team understands what you are going through and works with you to reclaim the life you deserve.