Prescription Drug Addiction

Over the last decade, prescription drug abuse and addiction has skyrocketed in our society, and consequentially created an epidemic of people addicted to very dangerous substances.

Most people prescribed medications for legitimate medical ailments do not set out to abuse them for recreational purposes, however, there is a common lack of care with taking these medications because they are prescribed legally by a doctor and couldn't possibly be dangerous like illicit drugs. However, many prescription drugs are just as addictive and dangerous as illicit drugs and far too often, people do not realize the dangers until it is too late.

Why Are Prescription Drugs Used?

Prescription Drugs

The specific classes of dangerous prescription drugs are stimulants used to treat ADD and ADHD, opiates used as painkillers, and benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety, seizures, grief (from a loss) and insomnia. When abused, these drugs can cause a quick onset of addiction and destructive behaviors that can spiral out of control and send a user plummeting to rock bottom. If you have been prescribed medication in any of these classes of drugs for any condition, it is important to know the dangers and warning signs if you suspect others may be taking your medication without your knowledge.


Most commonly prescribed for ADD and ADHD, stimulants like Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine are intended to increase concentration and focus for people who struggle with ADD or ADHD. However, in people who do not have a legitimate need to be on these medications, they behave like any illicit stimulant in the brain, creating a "speedy" feeling, hyper-alertness, severe mood swings, and insomnia. With growing pressure to excel, many students in high school and college will get stimulant prescription drugs from friends in order to stay awake and prepare for exams and projects. During this time of stimulant use, they can experience euphoria and feel like they have been extraordinarily productive, and since the allure of continuing to feel good and be more productive by not sleeping. Stimulant abuse can have very unpleasant side effects that become dangerous when stimulants are abused heavily.

  • Jittery feeling (feeling speedy)
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Racing heart beat
  • Irritability and mood swings
  • paranoia
  • hallucinations

While they can be very helpful to those who need them to focus, prescription stimulant abuse and addiction has been blamed for numerous fights, assaults, and other destructive behaviors that are caused by the massive mood swings they tend to produce.

Opiates - Pain Killers

Opiates may be prescribed by doctors to relieve pain or discomfort from a patient who has recently undergone a major or minor medical or dental procedure. There are also a number of people with chronic pain issues, such as herniated discs, cancer, and HIV/AIDS who need to take opiates for an extended period of time, often for the rest of their lives, so long as their ailment persists. Opiates such as OxyContin, Vicodin, Percoset, Fentanyl, and Morphine are all prescribed for pains and discomforts ranging from post surgery to headaches. No matter what the reason for being prescribed opiates, they are all addictive and very dangerous. When opiates are taken, they create a euphoric feeling and make the user feel warm, comfortable, and numb. Although not all who have taken opiates became addicted, these drugs do provide a pleasant feeling that most people enjoy and would like to experience again. For those who do continue on with opiate use, it is usually a very short period of time before addiction takes hold. Opiates, like any other drug of addiction, not only perpetuate a psychological addiction, but also a physical addiction where the body becomes physically dependent on the drugs. Once a body is physically addicted to opiates, the symptoms of not having the drugs can be tumultuous, including:

  • nausea
  • vomitting
  • cold sweats
  • diarrea
  • high fever
  • insonnia
  • irritability
  • muscle spasms
  • muscle aches

Even if taken as prescribed for an extended period of time, opiates will cause physical dependence at the very least and should not be stopped cold turkey without consultation from a doctor. Although the withdrawal symptoms from opiates are not generally life-threatening, they are extremely difficult to tolerate without some medical help to take the edge off. Therefore, opiate detoxification is available to provide medication throughout the detox process in order to ease sleep and relaxation.


Benzodiazepines are minor tranquilizers or sedatives generally prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, grief, and seizures. Although the Drug Enforcement Administrationconsiders benzodiazepines to be a Schedule IV class of drug (low risk of abuse), today's society has been showing quite a different trend. Like many other prescription drugs, benzodiazepines are very commonly prescribed for a variety of ailments from serious problems with seizures to an anxiety about an upcoming root canal. Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium are all sedatives and work as central nervous system depressants, slowing the brain and body functions. When benzodiazepines are abused, they also create a physical and psychological addiction that can be deadly when not treated correctly. Some of the effects of withdrawing from benzodiazepines are the very symptoms they are intended to treat such as extreme anxiety and seizures which can be deadly without proper medical supervision. Commonly prescribed and easy to obtain illicitly from friends and unknowing family members, benzodiazepines have effects similar to opiates, and the more that are taken, the more dependent an individual will become. Some common effects of benzodiazepine abuse are as follows:

  • Involuntary eye movement
  • Slurred speech
  • Falling asleep in the middle of an activity like talking, cooking, smoking, etc
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Poor judgement

Benzodiazepines are also commonly used in detoxing opiate addicts to ease the anxiety and assist with the addict's ability to sleep through the process as well. benzodiazepine addicts commonly mix the drugs with other CNS depressants like alcohol or opiates to enhance the overall depressive effect on the brain, but this comes with high risk, as too much of any CNS depressant can cause respiratory failure and consequential death.

If you have been prescribed dangerous and addictive medications like stimulants, opiates or benzodiazepines, it is important to know the risks, take them as instructed and only as long as needed, and never give your medication to anyone else for any reason. Prescription medications may be dispensed legally for legitimate reasons, but they are no less addictive or dangerous than illicit drugs. If you or someone you know is addicted to stimulants, opiates, or benzodiazepines, we can help. We are here to provide treatment resources and options for every kind of addiction and every kind of addict. We will help you find the addiction treatment service that best fits your needs. Call one of our trained counselors for help now! .