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Prescription Drug Addiction: Symptoms and Effects Explained

Nicholas Conn
Nicholas Conn

Nicholas is a leading addiction expert UK's go-to man on related matters for the national press, TV and radio.

Prescription Drug Addiction: Symptoms and Effects Explained

Prescription drug addiction is a growing concern in today’s society, affecting millions of people worldwide. It’s not limited to any specific age group, gender, or social background, making it a problem that can impact anyone.

In this blog post, we will be exploring what prescription drug addiction is, the signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction, and the effects of prescription drug addiction. Read on for more.


What Is Prescription Drug Addiction?

Prescription drug addiction, also known as prescription drug abuse or medication misuse, occurs when individuals use prescription medicines in a way other than prescribed by their healthcare provider.

These medications are typically meant to treat specific medical conditions, but when misused, they can lead to addiction.


What About Risk Factors for Prescription Drug Addiction?

Prescription drug addiction can happen to anyone, so it’s important to be aware of the risk factors.

One major risk is a history of substance abuse, as it increases the likelihood of developing an addiction to prescription medications. Additionally, taking prescription drugs for a long time or at higher doses than prescribed can lead to dependency.

Mental health issues such as depression or anxiety can also increase the risk, as individuals may use drugs to self-medicate.

Social factors, such as peer pressure or easy access to medications, can contribute too. Lastly, genetics may play a role – some people are genetically predisposed to addiction. Understanding these risk factors can help to prevent prescription drug addiction.


What Are Some Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs?

Many prescription drugs can be addictive, but some are more addictive than others. Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs include opioids, sedatives, tranquilisers and stimulants.



Opioid painkillers like OxyContin, Vicodin, and Codeine are among the most frequently abused prescription drugs.

These prescription painkillers provide pain relief but can also induce a euphoric high when taken in larger doses.


Sedatives and Tranquillisers

Medications like Xanax, Valium, and Ativan are typically prescribed to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. However, they are often misused for their calming effects.



Drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Many people abuse them – some people take them to enhance focus and energy levels.


Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

Recognising prescription drug addiction can be challenging, as it often starts innocently with a legitimate medical need.

Over time, however, individuals may develop a dependency on these medications. Here are some common symptoms to watch out for:


Withdrawal Symptoms

When not using the drug, those addicted to prescription medicine may experience withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, nausea, and cravings.

These withdrawal symptoms can make it difficult to stop taking the drug. This is why we recommend that you detox from prescription drugs under the supervision of a professional.


Increased Tolerance

The more you abuse prescription drugs, the more tolerant your body becomes. This means it will require higher doses to achieve the desired effects.

Tolerance can quickly develop into dependence, which can be hard to break without the right support.


Sourcing Prescription Drugs Illegally

People who are addicted to prescription medication may try ordering prescription medication online or through a drug dealer. They may also lie to their GP/ doctor about their health problems in order to obtain multiple prescriptions.



Another symptom of prescription drug addiction is withdrawing from social activities and isolating yourself from friends and family.


Financial Issues

Spending excessive money on obtaining prescription drugs or experiencing financial difficulties due to drug expenses is a key sign of prescription drug addiction. This can cause relationship difficulties, and have an impact on the wider family.


Inability to Control Drug Use

One of the main signs of drug addiction, whether it be prescription drugs or illicit drugs, is the lack of control over taking drugs.

If you feel unable to control your prescription drug use, or continue taking prescribed medications despite the negative effects, then you should consider seeking prescription drug rehab.


What Are The Main Effects of Prescription Drug Addiction?

Prescription drug addiction can have devastating effects on both physical and mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.


Health Consequences

Prolonged misuse of prescription drugs can lead to serious health issues such as respiratory problems, heart complications, liver damage, and increased risk of overdose.

Chronic use of prescription drugs can cause or exacerbate mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and paranoia.


Strained Relationships

Addiction can strain family relationships, leading to conflicts, mistrust, and emotional turmoil. Isolation and changes in behaviour can result in the loss of friendships and social support.


Legal and Financial Problems

Engaging in illegal activities to obtain prescription drugs can lead to legal issues, including arrests and criminal charges.

The high cost of maintaining an addiction can lead to financial instability, job loss, and even homelessness.


Overdose and Death

Prescription drug abuse significantly increases the risk of overdose, which can be fatal.

Those struggling with prescription drug addiction may be at higher risk of suicide due to the despair and hopelessness that often accompany addiction.


What To Expect From Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction

The good news is that prescription drug addiction is treatable. Seeking help is the first step toward recovery.

At Rehab Centres UK, we connect individuals with the appropriate rehab clinics and treatment programmes tailored to their specific needs. Here are some common treatment approaches:



Detoxing from prescription drugs can be challenging and potentially dangerous. Medical supervision ensures the safety and comfort of the individual.

In some cases, medications may be prescribed to help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.



There are a range of therapies used to treat prescription drug addiction, including CBT, group therapy, DBT, counselling, and many more.

CBT works by helping individuals identify and change harmful thought patterns and behaviours associated with addiction. Individual and group therapy sessions provide a supportive environment for individuals to explore their addiction and develop healthier coping strategies.


Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Dual-diagnosis treatment is when professionals address co-occurring mental health disorders alongside addiction for comprehensive care.

If you have depression, anxiety, or any other mental health condition alongside addiction, you should find a rehab clinic that offers dual-diagnosis treatment.


Aftercare and Relapse Prevention

Once you finish rehab, you can continue receiving support in the form of aftercare. This typically involves developing a plan for long-term recovery and preventing relapse.


Seek Support for Prescription Drug Addiction Today

Prescription drug addiction is a serious and widespread problem with significant consequences for individuals and society as a whole.

Recognising the symptoms and understanding the effects is essential in addressing this issue. If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription drug addiction, remember that help is available.

At Rehab Centres UK, we are dedicated to connecting individuals with the right resources for their recovery journey. We can connect you with a quality prescription drug rehab clinic, or a prescription drug detox programme.

Contact us today to begin your recovery journey. Recovery is possible, and a healthier, drug-free life awaits those who seek it.

Need Help With Your Addiction?

If you are looking for rehab for your addiction, contact our 24/7 support line for help at 0808 175 7225 today.