What You Need to Know About Prescription Drug Addiction

While prescription drugs are only available under doctor’s care and instructions, you may be surprised to know that this doesn’t mean you are not susceptible to addiction. Drugs are always administered through strict dosing allowances and for specified times and instances. Non-medical use of prescription drugs is increasingly on the rise. Many people come engaged with prescriptions not administered by a doctor through leftover medications from family, friends, or other.

What is Prescription Drug Addiction

When medications are taken for any other reason other than to treat an ailment under the advisement of a doctor it is considered recreational abuse.

Addiction is a disease that occurs in our brain. When we are experiencing addiction, we are compelled to seek out the stimulant–in this case a drug. Something harmless and voluntary as taking a prescription drug for treatment can take a turn and become involuntary if our brain becomes dependent on it. Over time, this addiction can transform our brain–causing us to make less than sound decisions and even lead to self-harm.

Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

The prescription drugs most commonly abused include a variety of opioids, depressants, and stimulants.


Commonly prescribed for pain relief, opioids include: oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl, and methadone. Typically, these drugs are administered post-surgical procedure to block pain messages that would otherwise be sent to the brain. Blocking these signals helps us undergo the healing processes relatively comfortably–even causing us to feel no pain at all and may even experience elation. This benefit however–when abused, can lead us to become dependent on that euphoric response–sometimes without us even noticing. We might develop the dependence or desire to take higher doses or find reasons to indulge in drug use even when pain is not present.


Depressants include drug used to slow brain activity from issues related to anxiety. Also known for having pleasurable effect, this drug includes sedatives and tranquilizers. Unfortunately, like most drugs taken for long periods of time–tolerance can lead to the need for higher dosages to achieve the effect. Balancing the prescribed medication with tolerance and withdrawal issues can be incredibly difficult and is the main root of cause for this type of addiction.


Stimulants are actually prescribed for a number or uses from depression, ADHD, and narcolepsy. Their benefit is increased alertness and ability for focus. Just like the opioids and depressants, stimulants can develop tolerance blocks requiring higher dosage. This is troublesome for those in need of these medications for regular consumption. Stimulants are often used in recreational use and overdosing often results in seizures.

Are Some People More Prone to Addiction

Each of us have different biological and environmental qualities that impact our development. For some, addiction risks may be greater–especially if there are any genetic links to addictive tendencies. Our own social environments–friends, colleagues, and other–can even influence the likelihood for abuse.

Identifying Dependence

If you’re someone taking one or more of the above prescriptions, you may find it difficult to determine if there’s dependencies. Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal within 24 hours of discontinuation can be the first indicator of addiction. Symptoms vary depending on the medication, but can include: irritability, restlessness, vomiting, muscle pain, fever or chills, diarrhea, and others. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms or feel that your tolerance for a prescribed drug has changed, it’s important to seek medical advice.

Seeking Help

Prescription drug addiction requires specialty help because these drugs rewire our brains. Only a professional medical detox can help combat addiction safely and with techniques that help relieve symptoms of withdrawal. While it may seem overwhelming, these rehabilitation programs can connect you with a network of others who suffer from the same addiction. Remind yourself that addiction is not permanent–these behaviors are learned and with proper care you can alter these behavioral changes and get back to living your life prior to dependence.