Prescription drug addiction has become one of the largest epidemics in American history. Millions of Americans are prescribed prescription medications, many of whom eventually become addicted. The three classes of prescription drugs that are the most susceptible to abuse are:

  • Opiates – Used to treat moderate to severe pain (Oxycontin, Opana, Fentanyl, Percocet, Vicodin and Roxicet)
  • Benzodiazepines – Used to treat anxiety disorders (Xanax, Valium)
  • Amphetamines – Commonly prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (Adderall)

While these do have legitimate medical uses to patients, many patients abuse them and are still just as susceptible to health problems as those who abuse street drugs such as heroin, cocaine or crystal meth. Since Oxycontin was released in the U.S. market in 1996, prescription painkiller abuse has more than quadrupled in the U.S. and remains the largest contributor to drug overdose deaths.

Many people make the mistake of believing that just because these medications are prescribed from a doctor, they are safer to abuse than street drugs. Many will justify their addictions by using the fact that they are prescribed them and actually have a legitimate need to use them. While these medications do require the permission of a doctor to obtain them, there has been a large rise in morally-questionable doctors who are capitalizing on their high demand.

“Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999 and so have sales of these prescription drugs. From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids.” – Center for Disease Control & Prevention

Many patients become addicted to these drugs and engage in “doctor shopping” where they will simultaneously consult numerous doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions to make sure they don’t run out. “Pill mills” became a major problem in the U.S. in the early 2000s, which drastically overprescribed these drugs to patients, resulting in a nation-wide crackdown on pain management clinics and the implementation of prescription drug monitoring programs in 49 of 50 states.

Symptoms of Prescription Opiate Addiction

Prescription opiates remain the largest drug problem in the U.S. and while they remain a legitimate treatment for pain, they are very deadly if abused. They may not carry the same stigma as their street drug counterpart Heroin, but are just as deadly. Many addicts will start by abusing prescription opiates and will eventually progress to using heroin because of its lower cost. Side effects of opiate withdrawal are generally not life-threatening, but are incredibly painful. They are best treated through the use of medically-assisted detox programs, which administer medications such as Suboxone and Subutex to help patients ease through the painful side effects of opiate withdrawal. Symptoms of prescription opiate addiction are identical to that of heroin addiction and include the following:

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Decrease in physical hygiene
  • Person may be depressed or suicial
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or relationships
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Erratic or hostile behavior
  • Lack of motivation
  • Borrowing or stealing money from family and friends

Physical Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath
  • Constricted pupils
  • Constant fatigue or “nodding off”
  • Dramatic loss in weight
  • Needle marks or abscesses where the drug has been injected
  • Constant itching
  • Memory loss

Signs of Opiate Withdrawal

  • Profuse and unusual sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Extreme cramping in limbs or “kicking”
  • Severe insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold sweats

In the United States, millions of people take prescription drugs to treat physical and mental health disorders. However, the prevalence of these drugs has many unforeseen negative consequences. With the rise of prescription drugs, prescription drug addiction also rises. It’s important to understand the risks and signs for the most common prescription drugs so you can notice signs of abuse in yourself or someone you love.

Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction treatment at Morningside RecoveryLike opiates, benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants and are highly addictive. They are used to treat moderate to severe anxiety and in some cases, chronic sleep disorders. Like with alcohol, prescription drug addiction and withdrawal can be life-threatening if not treated properly. If withdrawal symptoms are noticed, it is important that the patient be taken to receive medical attention immediately. Some common symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal include:

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Drowsiness
  • Constant fatigue
  • Incoordination
  • Unusual sleeping habits
  • Dramatic loss in weight
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Blurred vision

Physical Symptoms

  • Memory problems or amnesia
  • Lack of physical hygiene
  • Hostility
  • Medication-seeking behavior (doctor shopping)
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares
  • Isolating from family and friends

Signs of Withdrawal

  • Flu-like pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Psychosis
  • Severe anxiety
  • Audio and visual hallucinations
  • Tremors and shakiness
  • Seizures

Symptoms of Amphetamine Addiction

Amphetamines primarily act to make the patient more focused, aware and alert. Like with their street drug counterpart methamphetamine, they induce a massive rush of dopamine to the brain and produce a euphoric and hyperactive effect on the user. Symptoms of abuse are virtually identical to that of methamphetamines and include:

Behavioral Symptoms

  • Erratic increase in energy
  • Risky or reckless behavior
  • Acting delusional
  • Insomnia or being awake for days at a time
  • Paranoia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hostile behavior
  • Easily agitated

Physical Symptoms

  • Dilated pupils
  • Increased heart rate
  • Hypertension
  • Dramatic loss in weight
  • Increased energy and alertness
  • Increased body temperature
  • Cottonmouth
  • Rapid Breathing

Signs of Amphetamine Withdrawal

  • Extreme depression
  • Anxiety
  • Lethargy
  • Irregular sleeping habits (sleeping all day)
  • Increased appetite
  • Paranoia

Finding Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment at Morningside Recovery

Prescription drug addiction is more common than most people would like to believe. If you notice the signs of prescription drug addiction or abuse in yourself or someone you love, then it’s time to get help. Morningside Recovery is an addiction rehab and luxury detox center in California that specializes in addiction treatment and dual diagnosis treatment.

We offer a variety of specialized addiction treatment services for specific types of substances. Some of these include:

If you’re ready to overcome your prescription drug addiction and start living a healthy, happy, and sober life, then call Morningside Recovery today at 855-631-2135. Let us walk with you on the road to recovery at our Orange County drug detox and addiction treatment center.