Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription Drug Addiction

prescription drug addiction


No one “decides” to get addicted to prescription drugs or over the counter medication.  Alienating family and friends, failing at work, engaging in small-time criminal activities is not what anyone plans when they swallow their first pill to ease backache, headache, depression or anxiety.

Many people misuse a prescription drug or over the counter medication, at some time in their life, but the overwhelming majority put the pills away with no lasting harm.

For people with an inherent vulnerability to addiction, taking pills can lead to an intoxicating rush that makes the brain want more. Repeating the high reinforces the cycle, and sets the stage for prescription drug addiction.

Painkillers are opiates, which incorporate chemicals originated from opium. Often clinically prescribed for managing moderate to severe pain following some kind of accident or trauma, they produce a strong feeling of calm. There is usually no willful aim from the sufferer to abuse their painkillers, but if over time tolerance develops, they may start to take increased dosages than prescribed. The risk is that a physical dependence can develop.

What Are the Most Abused Prescription Drugs?

The most common prescription drugs in the UK are painkillers, sleeping pills, weight loss pills, anti-depression and anti-anxiety medication. It is useful to understand what prescription drugs present the most risk before taking them from your physician.  The most prevalent prescription medications that are abused include: 

  • Codeine
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
  • Fentanyl
  • Gabapentin
  • Hydrocodone
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Vicodin
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Dexedrine
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Morphine
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Amphetamine (Adderall)

Methadone is also most often associated with people who are trying to safely quit a heroin addiction. It is, however, used as an opiate pain reliever, and it can be misused as well. Brand names include Dolophine and Methadose, and it comes in tablet and liquid forms. Street names include Amidone and Fizzies. When it is used with MDMA, it is known as Chocolate Chip Cookies.

To begin to understand prescription drugs addiction, you need to look deep inside the brain.

addiction is a brain disease

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Finding and eating food, drinking water, having sex, caring for children: these and other activities necessary to survival, cause the reward system to release a tiny dose of dopamine, a “feel good” neurotransmitter. It feels good, and so we’re likely to repeat that activity later on.

Repeated abuse of prescription or over the counter medication floods the system with dopamine, which contributes to the euphoric rush.

When a person with a predisposition to addiction, uses these drugs repeatedly, it causes the reward system to inappropriately learn that these drugs are as essential to survival as food or water. Experts believe that the receptor cells in the brain actually change.

If you are living with an addiction to prescription drugs and considering undergoing treatment, think of what the cost will be if you decide against entering rehab. It is better undergoing withdrawals in a safe environment. Treatment can also include being slowly weaned off a drug to minimise symptoms, so close monitoring of consumption is important.

In some cases, people with an addiction to prescription medication may have started taking the drug for legitimate reasons, having been prescribed the drug by their doctor. It may have been to treat genuine health problems or injuries. However, when they take the medication beyond their GP’s direction and begin using them recreationally, they could end up abusing the drug, leading to addiction. Many do not fully appreciate the effect taking prescription drugs can have on their health and well-being.

Prescription drug addiction and over the counter medication is on the rise.

Experts are unsure of the exact number of people addicted to prescription drugs today, but all agree it is on the rise. This is partly due to aggressive marketing and widespread availability. Many more people have access to these medicines today than 15 or 20 years ago.

 Illegal opioids.

There are now many dangerous and often fatal substances such as fentanyl, carfentanil, and other synthetic opioids, as well as heroin and illicitly obtained prescription opioids, increasingly being distributed online via the dark web. Illegal chemists tend not to be overly concerned about quality control: if their products sell, then that is all that matters. Possible toxicity or brain injury to the user takes a low priority when their main worries are getting paid, avoiding attacks from other criminals and keeping a step ahead of the police.

Responding to requests by patients and pain advocacy groups, doctors may also have become more lenient when prescribing drugs. There has been a massive increase in sales of these preparations in the last decade – creating millions of potential drug stashes in medicine cabinets across the country.

Everyone agrees with better pain control for people who need it is a good thing.  However, in the pursuit of more efficient and quicker treatment, more people are being exposed to these drugs than ever before, creating the potential for many more addicts.

Prescription Drugs are Addictive

Drug addiction of all kinds is a disease that is harming thousands upon thousands in the UK and costing the country millions in hospitalisations from the damage done to their minds and bodies as well as accidents and lost wages from them not being able to make it to work.

From a report by Public Health England regarding the dependence and withdrawal problems associated with prescription medicines it was found that in England in 2017-18, one in four adults (11.5 million) were prescribed at least one medicine from these classes:

  1. antidepressants
  2. opioids (for chronic pain)
  3. gabapentinoids
  4. benzodiazepines

Around half of the people who were receiving a prescription in March 2018 had been receiving their prescription continuously for at least 12 months.

prescription drug addiction

Substance use disorder is the medical term for drug addiction, although it is a broad term that encompasses all types of substances, including addiction to prescription drugs. One of the major factors involved in the diagnosis of substance use disorder is if the use is interfering with basic aspects of life, like being a family member, going to work, attending church, or even more basic, showering and self-care.

It is vital to seek help and drug rehab before it is too late. Depending on the drugs taken, this can cause all manner of health and mental problems, including cardiovascular disease, neurological problems, brain damage, depression, anxiety, coma and death. The sooner that a person seeks prescription drug treatment, the less this risk and more importantly, the faster the relief from the suffering of substance abuse.

The reason addiction to prescription drugs may be on the rise is that some people do not actually believe that the drugs they are taking are harmful or addictive. They feel that if a drug has been purchased legally or prescribed by a doctor, then it must be alright. The false belief can allow people to continue with their addiction for years, concealing it from their friends and loved ones.

However, the fact of the matter is that becoming addicted to prescription drugs is extremely dangerous. Just as potentially perilous as being hooked to an illegal street drug like heroin. Not that some people even believe they have, or admit to having, a problem, despite the pleas of their families.

“It is just a little pill to help me sleep. I am stressed out. I have a headache”.

Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Feeling high (euphoria)
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • The increased dose required for pain relief
  • Worsening or increased sensitivity to pain

There may also be potentially life dangerous symptoms, where taking addictive prescription drugs can affect the liver and heart and, in extreme cases, may even cause brain damage, which could be permanent. Long term drug use could even affect you psychologically by altering your brain’s chemistry. It could bring on anxiety, depression and a wide range of mental health issues, such as paranoia and schizophrenia.

Many take prescription drugs for legitimate purposes, be it for pain relief or to help them sleep. But people should be aware that some prescription drugs should only be taken for a short period of time as they can be very addictive. If a person has been taking them for too long, they could show signs of addiction, which differ based on the drugs in question. When under the grip of addiction, a person will go to extreme lengths to get the pills they need, from constantly changing doctors to taking the potentially hazardous step of buying them off the internet.

A person could also endanger their health if combining prescription drugs with other substances such as alcohol as it heightens the effects and related risks. Moreover, a longstanding use of prescription medication can have a significant adverse effect on a person’s physical and psychological state. Withdrawal can be very uncomfortable, especially if addicted to benzodiazepines and opiate-based painkillers, and ultimately your addiction could prove to be life-threatening.

Treatment for prescription drug addiction

If you require treatment for prescription drug abuse, it is not about assigning blame or pointing fingers. It is not about who is responsible, or what you could have done to stop yourself from falling into addiction.

The most important thing is to concentrate on your health and well-being and how you could turn your life around and have a brighter future. Where it is generally felt the best option when undergoing recovery is to receive professional care—encompassing every aspect of your life, from your family situation, work and business relationships, alongside other important considerations, which could play a role in your addiction treatment. You can rely on a comprehensive medical detox and commitment to confidentiality. Be assured, your mental and physical health is always of paramount importance when undergoing our rehab clinics.

Issues over prescription drugs misuse may sometimes build up under the radar and not be immediately apparent. However, that does not mean they are not as important, or potentially hazardous, like other substance abuse problems. The use of prescription medications, even when administered and directed by a doctor, or especially when used improperly, can lead to dependence and addiction.

Medical detox

prescription drug addiction

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse

Generally, though, the first stage of a full rehabilitation programme is to carry out a medical detox. The process is where, under medical supervision, you will stop taking prescription drugs and cleanse them from your body. However, if you have grown accustomed to having drugs in your system, cutting off the supply suddenly can be quite a shock. Leading to difficult, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, which can make it hard to give up the drug without the assistance and support of a trained professional.

You can be assured that, through a supervised medical detox, trained medical professionals will oversee every facet of your detox, as you go through withdrawal.  It is important to know you don’t have to go through this alone, and there is support available.  Support staff can show you how to cope with undergoing withdrawal. So, you can make it to the other side of your detox.

You can also be assured that, when entering rehab, you will be treated with absolute confidence. Some people may be afraid to go ahead with prescription drug treatment, in case anyone finds out. It may discourage them from making the decision to proceed with rehab. However, there is no need for concern. Residential rehab centres across the country are known for their discretion. What’s more, if you are unsure about how a rehabilitation program works and what it entails, then the helpful staff will explain it to you. If you have any questions about living condition and accommodation and how long the treatment lasts, amongst other queries, then don’t be afraid to ask.

The Detox Process at a Prescription Drug Rehab Clinic

We are here to help you overcome your addiction to prescription drugs. With our drug rehab facilities and continuum of care, we can provide fast, individualised substance abuse intervention. We cover treatment from detox, to primary treatment, to aftercare, and most importantly, with all our facilities, we can get you in almost immediately. So, after you make that first contact with our trained staff, we will be working on getting you into treatment within the next 24 hours. We know it is important to get you help when you reach out for it, and not a week later.

Any type of prescription drug addiction treatment starts with an assessment first. The team at our facilities need to understand how bad your addiction is, and how necessary your prescription medications are. While there may be an addiction going on, the drugs may have been initially prescribed for a genuine reason. The medical team will be able to create an individualised care plan and guide a prescription drug abuser along the road to recovery. Ultimately, the patient should step into the potential of a healthier life and happier future when they leave the treatment centre.

Some prescription drugs cannot be stopped “cold turkey” without serious risks to health, and some may have uncomfortable side effects, requiring medical supervision. Our clinic’s trained and compassionate treatment team will be there every step of the way for you and will use the latest medical knowledge as well as supplementary medications and basic vitamins and nutrition to help you detox.

prescription drug addiction

The final step of detox would be transitioning. We use the term transitioning in addiction treatment when you move from one level of care, like detox, to another level of care. Our teams work together to help ensure the continuity of care you need to helpfully overcome your addiction to prescription drugs. Detox is available as a sole service, but we strongly encourage people that come to detox to seek ongoing treatment for their drug problem. There are many possible complications that come from drug abuse, so staying in rehab longer will help us address them with you.

How Long Do You Need to Be Treated?

Treatment for prescription drug addiction can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. This depends on you as an individual, what started you on prescription medication and what turned that into an addiction. Most people abuse prescription drugs to cope with an underlying physical or mental illness, and our aim in a rehab programme is to help you healthily manage that underlying problem, without reliance on dangerous prescriptions that can lead to addiction.

Prescription drug abuse programmes concentrate on the person as an individual, exploring every facet of your life to aid in your recovery.  Exploring your background, environment, personal history and relationships, which may be linked to your problems with dependency. Rehab treatment can explore these various issues, and more and more people use holistic therapies such as mindfulness to treat their addiction.


In the rehab clinic, you will have the space to be honest and open with your experiences, whether in group therapy, sharing your thoughts with other patients, or in individual counselling, sharing your emotions with a single therapist. The integrity of the therapeutic alliance between patient and counsellor must be upheld to genuinely support a healthy, addiction-free life.

Ongoing rehabilitation

If you are struggling with an addiction to prescription drugs, you will know it is difficult to fight your addiction alone. In a vast proportion of cases, an individual’s dependency can have an effect on their friends and loved ones. It can impact the entire family, which is why their participation in your rehab therapy can be of great help to your recovery. Family therapy can play a pivotal role in an ongoing rehabilitation programme. Where experienced counsellors can explore how your family dynamic may lay at the centre of your problems with addiction. As well as providing an invaluable source of guidance and support, which could prove invaluable in your continual recovery.

It is vital to seek help and drug rehab before it is too late. Depending on the drugs taken, this can cause all manner of health and mental problems, including cardiovascular disease, neurological problems, brain damage, depression, anxiety, coma and death. The sooner that a person seeks prescription drug treatment, the less this risk and more importantly, the faster the relief from the suffering of substance abuse.

Prescription drugs can be lifesaving and help people with otherwise debilitating conditions live meaningful lives. They can also be the cause of abuse and addiction that limits and damages a person’s mental and physical health. If you or a loved one are struggling with a dependence on prescription medication, or feel like you are addicted, please contact us immediately. Compassionate and trained staff are available to talk with you right now and help you take the first step into treatment and away from addiction.

Contact Rehab Guide today on 02072052845. 





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