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What are the Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction?

Prescription drug addiction can impact someone’s life in many ways. Learn about the drug addiction signs and treatment options available.

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What is Prescription Drug Addiction?

Prescription drug addiction involves the abuse or misuse of prescription medications. Those who struggle with prescription drug addiction will continue taking a substance despite the negative consequences they are experiencing in their life due to prescription drug use.

When someone struggles with prescription drug abuse, they will likely build a dependence on the substance that makes them feel like they can’t function normally without taking it. Prescription drug abuse can negatively affect someone’s life in many ways, making it vital that the proper treatment and support are provided for the addiction. That is why it’s important to look for prescription drug addiction signs to determine if someone may be struggling. 1

How Prescription Drug Addiction Occurs?

There are many ways that prescription drug abuse may occur. Many prescription medications can have addictive qualities that make them more likely to be misused or abused. Addictive medications should be taken with caution and only within the strict guidelines of a medical professional to avoid any adverse complications.2 


Some people may also misuse prescription drugs for recreational purposes. Misusing addictive medications for recreational use or taking large doses of addictive medications is dangerous and can lead to many adverse effects.

Drug Addiction Signs

Drug Abuse vs. Misuse

Drug abuse is characterized as frequently taking unnecessarily high doses of a substance. The effects of prescription drugs can have many adverse effects, so abuse of these medications can be very dangerous. Medication misuse is characterized as taking medication outside of its prescribed purposes, such as recreational use to get high. If someone is to misuse prescription drugs, it can cause many adverse side effects and health complications. 3

Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

There are many prescription drug addiction signs and symptoms you can look for to help determine if someone is struggling. Prescription drug addiction signs can be physical, psychological, or behavioral. 

Physical Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

Physical prescription drug addiction symptoms include:


  • Impaired coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Disorientation
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia
  • Irregular heartbeat and slowed breathing
  • High body temperature
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headaches

Psychological Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

Psychological prescription drug addiction symptoms include:


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Impaired ability to focus or concentrate
  • Enhanced ability to focus or concentrate
  • Poor judgment
  • Memory problems
  • Paranoia and confusion

Behavioral and Social Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

Behavioral and social prescription drug addiction signs include:


  • Borrowing or stealing prescription medications
  • Attempting to acquire multiple prescriptions by visiting many different doctors
  • Ordering prescription medication on the internet
  • Being defensive and secretive about your prescription drug misuse

Types of Prescription Drug Misuse

There are many types of prescription drug misuse and commonly abused prescription drugs. The three main types will be detailed below.


One of the most prominent types of addictive prescription drugs is opioids. Opioid medications are typically prescribed for pain relief. However, these medications can be highly addictive and are the most highly abused prescription drug in the United States.

Drug Addiction Signs

Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants

Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants are typically prescribed to treat anxiety, acute stress, panic disorders, and sleep disorders. While CNS depressants have many medical uses, they also have a high potential for addiction and misuse due to their sedative properties.4


Stimulant medications such as Adderall and Ritalin are commonly prescribed to treat ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). However, these stimulant medications also have the potential for addiction if they are misused or abused. 

Avoiding Prescription Drug Misuse

To avoid misusing prescription drugs, it is important to only take drugs personally prescribed by a medical professional, to that amount, and contact your doctor if any signs of dependence begin to occur.

Causes of Prescription Drug Addiction

There are many common causes of prescription drug abuse. It’s important to look out for the risk factors for prescription drug abuse to try to prevent it or be able to provide help for those who are struggling. 

To Feel Good or Get High

The effects of prescription drugs may be abused to feel good or get high. Recreational use of prescription drugs can have many adverse effects. It’s important to avoid prescription drug use to avoid the dangers of prescription drugs. 

To Relax or Relieve Tension

Prescription drugs may also be abused for relaxation or to relieve tension. High levels of stress in someone’s daily life can be one of the leading causes of prescription drug misuse. However, self-medicating stress with prescription medications is dangerous, as there are many adverse effects of abusing prescription drugs. 

To Reduce Appetite or Increase Alertness

Some people may also misuse prescription medications because they help suppress appetite or increase alertness. While the side effects of prescription drugs may help with these things, there are also many negative effects of abusing prescription drugs that can be harmful to someone’s well-being in the long term. 

To Experiment with the Mental Effects of the Substance

Prescription drugs may also be abused by those who want to experiment with the mental effects of the substance. Experimentation with a prescription substance can be very harmful and may lead to many adverse side effects if the medication is taken in high doses. 


To Maintain an Addiction and Prevent Withdrawal

If someone already struggles with an addiction, they may choose to take prescription drugs to maintain their addiction or prevent withdrawal symptoms from occurring. This is often a sign of drug dependence that someone feels like they can’t function normally without taking drugs. 

To be Accepted by Peers or to be Social

Peer pressure or social factors are also common risk factors for addiction, specifically in younger people. It’s important to educate young people about the dangers of prescription drug misuse to avoid the adverse effects that addiction to these substances can create. 

Complications From Prescription Drug Addiction

Many complications may occur from prescription drug addiction and long-term abuse of these substances. 

Use of Other Medications and Drugs

The use of other medications and drugs can cause harmful interactions that impact someone’s health and well-being. Some drug interactions can be dangerous and may lead to long-term health consequences. 


Age can also be a factor in complications from prescription drug misuse. Younger people who abuse prescription substances may have more severe complications since their brains aren’t fully developed yet. Long-term prescription drug addiction in teens can cause damage to brain cells and may prevent important brain cell growth and development. 

Pre-Existing Health Conditions

Prescription drug addiction can also worsen pre-existing health conditions. Effects of prescription drug abuse on pre-existing health conditions can lead to severe health issues and health complications that may be fatal.

Drug Addiction Signs

Prevention From Prescription Drug Addiction

There are several ways that prescription drug addiction can be prevented to avoid the negative effects of prescription drug abuse altogether. Ways to prevent prescription drug addiction include: 


  • Make sure you’re getting the proper medication
  • Check-in with your doctor
  • Follow directions carefully
  • Know what your medication does
  • Never use another person’s prescription
  • Don’t order prescriptions online unless they’re from a trustworthy pharmacy

Get Help with Prescription Drug Addiction at Great Oaks Recovery Center

Prescription drug withdrawal and addiction have many serious side effects and symptoms. However, you don’t have to go through it alone. If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription drug addiction, Great Oaks Recovery Center can help. When you go through a treatment program at Great Oaks, you will be guided by our friendly and knowledgeable staff. Great Oaks Recovery Center has many evidence-based addiction treatment programs that can be tailored to meet your specific needs. Contact us today for more information about how Great Oaks Recovery Center can help. 

Questions About Treatment?

Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options. Your call is confidential with no obligation required.