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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

Learn about drug addiction signs and symptoms here. If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription drug addiction, seek help today.


Prescription drug addiction is a severe problem that can have devastating consequences. Those affected may start taking prescription drugs for legitimate medical reasons but soon find themselves taking larger and larger doses for non-medical reasons. They may eventually develop a tolerance to the drugs and be unable to go without them. In some cases, addicts may even turn to illegal substances when they can no longer obtain prescription drugs.

Prescription drug addiction can lead to job loss, financial problems, and legal difficulties. It can also cause strained relationships and health problems. If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription drug addiction, it is essential to know what to look for.1

Understanding Prescription Drug Abuse

Before we discuss the signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction, it is crucial to understand what prescription drug abuse is.  Simply put, prescription drug abuse occurs when people take medication that has not been prescribed to them or take a prescription medication in a way other than what has been directed by a medical professional.

Drug addiction signs

Commonly Abused Prescription Drug Classes

There are four main classes of prescription drugs that are commonly abused:

  • Opioids: Opioids are powerful painkillers, including drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine.
  • Stimulants: Stimulants are drugs that increase alertness and energy. They include drugs like amphetamines, methylphenidate, and cocaine.
  • Depressants: Depressants are drugs that slow down the central nervous system. They include drugs like benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and alcohol.2
  • Hallucinogens: Hallucinogens are drugs that cause hallucinations. They include drugs like LSD, MDMA, and ketamine.3

What Happens When You Abuse Prescription Drugs?

Abusing prescription drugs can lead to a variety of problems. For instance, opioids can cause drowsiness, constipation, and slow breathing. Stimulants can cause anxiety, paranoia, and insomnia. Depressants can cause slurred speech, impaired coordination, and memory problems. Hallucinogens can cause delusions and visual hallucinations.

People who abuse prescription drugs may also suffer from financial problems, legal difficulties, and strained relationships. In some cases, they may even lose their jobs. Additionally, prescription drug abuse can lead to overdose and death. Additional symptoms of prescription drug addiction will be detailed below.

Physical Changes

Physical indications of prescription drug addiction include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Prescription drug cravings
  • Catatonia
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Breathing issues
  • Insomnia
  • Constipation

Behavioral Changes

Behavioral indications of prescription drug addiction include:

  • Constantly changing work schedules
  • Faster Consumption of prescribed medication
  • Online ordering prescribed medication
  • Stealing prescriptions
  • Being secretive about prescription drug use
  • Social isolation
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Poor performance at work

Psychological Symptoms

Psychological indications of prescription drug addiction include:

  • Euphoria
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of concentration
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Memory issues

Side Effects of Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction is a severe problem with various negative side effects on the following:


The effect of prescription drugs on hygiene is two-fold. First, people addicted to prescription drugs may neglect their hygiene because they are preoccupied with finding and using the drug. Second, some drugs can cause changes in appearance, such as weight loss or gain, skin sores, and bad breath.


Changes in appearance are some of the most noticeable signs of prescription drug addiction. Weight loss or gain, skin sores, and bad breath can all be warning signs of something wrong.

Mental Health Decline

Prescription drug addiction can take a toll on your mental health. Symptoms like depression, anxiety, and paranoia can all be warning signs of an underlying problem.

Suicidal Tendency

One of the most severe side effects of prescription drug addiction is an increased risk of suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, getting help immediately is essential.

Damage to the Heart and Kidneys

Another severe side effect of prescription drug addiction is damage to the heart and kidneys. Opioid abuse can cause high blood pressure, leading to heart attacks, and strokes.

Additionally, stimulant abuse can cause irregular heartbeat and increased blood pressure, leading to heart attacks and strokes. Depressants can also slow down the respiratory system, leading to respiratory failure. Hallucinogens can cause seizures and kidney damage. In some cases, they can even lead to death.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

Withdrawal symptoms are one of the most challenging aspects of prescription drug addiction. They can be uncomfortable and even dangerous. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Sweating
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
Drug addiction signs

How to Prevent Prescription Drug Abuse to Avoid Addiction

Prescription drug abuse is a severe problem in the United States. People become addicted to prescription drugs daily after taking them for legitimate medical reasons.

Prescription drug abuse is now the leading cause of death among young adults in the US. There are several ways to prevent prescription drug abuse and avoid addiction. Such as:

  • Follow directions strictly
  • Know the dangers
  • Check-in with your doctor
  • Never use another person’s prescription
  • Don’t order prescriptions online.

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment at Alta Centers

Alta Centers is a leading provider of prescription drug addiction treatment. Our unique approach combines the latest medical care with evidence-based therapies to provide our patients with the best possible outcomes.

Our highly skilled and experienced team provides individualized care to every patient, ensuring they receive the best treatment suited to their needs. In addition, we offer a wide range of support services to help our patients through every step of their recovery journey. If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription drug addiction, please contact us today to learn more about our program and how we can help.

The Bottom Line

If you are concerned that someone you know may be addicted to prescription drugs, don’t hesitate to seek help. So many resources are available to those struggling with addiction, and getting treatment can help you or your loved one regain autonomy over your life once more

Questions About Treatment?

Our knowledgeable team is ready to discuss your situation and options. Your call is confidential with no obligation required.