Prescription Drug Treatment

Prescription Drug Addiction

People have a lot of misconceptions about prescription drug addiction. Some believe that because the medication is prescribed by a doctor it must be safe, while others believe that prescription drugs are non-addictive.

But the flurry of prescription drug overdoses in the news and the easy accessibility of these medications suggest that prescription drug abuse is a growing epidemic. In fact, prescription drugs are the second most abused drug next to marijuana.

Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

  • Opiates – narcotic painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, Percodan and Demerol
  • Depressants – drugs to treat panic, anxiety and sleep disorders such as Valium and Xanax
  • Stimulants – drugs to treat obesity, attention deficit disorder and sleep disorders such as Dexedrine, Ritalin and Adderall

Prescription drug abusers typically swallow tablets or crush them into a powder, which they then snort. The drugs are typically obtained by doctor shopping (visiting several doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions), purchasing fraudulent prescriptions, buying drugs illegally from online pharmacies, or stealing them from friends or family members with legitimate prescriptions.

Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

People who are addicted to prescription drugs engage in characteristic behaviors, such as:

  • Frequent health complaints in order to get more medication
  • Lack of interest in non-pharmaceutical treatment options
  • Mood swings
  • Seeing several doctors to get more prescriptions
  • Using larger doses than recommended 
  • Using pills prescribed for others

People Most at Risk for Prescription Drug Addiction

Although anyone can develop an addiction to prescription drugs, there are certain classes of people who are most at risk, including:

  • Seniors
  • People who are trying to manage the pain of an illness, accident, surgery or injury
  • Adolescents – Prescription drug abuse is on the rise among teenagers, with reports suggesting that as many as one in five high school students misuse these drugs.

Effects of Prescription Drug Abuse

Like other forms of chemical dependency, prescription drug addiction can have serious and even deadly effects, such as:

  • Depressed breathing and heart rate
  • Seizures
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • High body temperature
  • Paranoia or aggression
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or relationships
  • Withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop using the medication

Treating Prescription Drug Addiction

Roughly 20 percent of Americans have used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. Taking prescription drugs without a legitimate prescription is illegal and dangerous.

With treatment, addicts are able to break their addiction to prescription drugs and go on to lead productive lives. Although behavioral treatments and medication are each effective for treating addiction, research shows that a combination of both produces the best long-term outcomes.

Behavioral Treatments

Behavioral treatments include individual, group and family therapy, contingency management, and cognitive-behavioral therapies. These interventions help patients learn how to live drug-free and manage drug cravings without relapsing. In some cases, prescription drug addicts need residential drug rehab in order to gain the necessary tools to get clean and sober.


Some prescription drug addictions, such as opioid addiction, can also be treated with medication. Methadone and Suboxone have been proven safe and effective by research and can help patients cope with withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. While medications can be effective in getting patients off of drugs, long-term recovery generally requires counseling, support groups and individualized treatment planning.

Please call 866-323-5608 to find the right drug rehabilitation center for you or your loved one.