What is prescription drug addiction?
Prescription drugs are effective – and in many cases necessary – when used responsibly, in accordance with doctors’ instructions. Unfortunately, some drugs have primary effects or side effects that are appealing to recreational users. While dependence on prescription drugs often develops from extended medical use, this is not always the case.
There is a common misconception that prescription drug addiction is not harmful because the drugs are deemed safe for medical use. But recreational users do not follow recommended doses, and they often use the drugs in conjunction with other substances. According to Health Canada, prescription drug addiction is one of the fastest growing substance abuse problems, particularly among teenagers and young adults.
What prescription drugs can people become addicted to?
There are many legally available prescription drugs that have the potential to become addictive.
- Prescription pain medication falls into the category of opioids. These drugs are popular not only because they relieve pain, but because they provide a feeling of euphoria. Examples of opioids are morphine, codeine and oxycodone.
- Prescription sedatives, which are used to treat anxiety and insomnia, are a target for recreational users because of their calming effects. The sedatives most commonly abused are benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium and Ativan. Other sedatives to watch out for are barbituates like Nembutal and Luminal, and sleep medication like Lunesta and Ambien.
- Prescription stimulants are amphetamines used primarily to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and sleep disorders like narcolepsy. Like opioids, they produce a feeling of euphoria.
Signs of prescription drug addiction
Prescription drug addiction can be difficult to detect, especially if the individual started out by using the drug legitimately. Some signs to look out for include the following:
- Frequent visits to the doctor for refills of medication
- Visits to two or more doctors for the purposes of obtaining multiple prescriptions
- Crushing or breaking pills
- Using prescription medication belonging to other people
- Attempting to obtain medication using forged prescriptions
- Mood swings, irritability and irrational behaviour
- Significant changes to eating and sleeping patterns
- Increased consumption of alcohol
Prescription drug addiction treatment
Because such a wide variety of prescription drugs can be abused, there is a diverse range of withdrawal effects. In addition, many people who are addicted to prescription drugs are also addicted to other substances. This adds to the medical risk and complexity of withdrawal.
At Addiction Rehab Toronto, we provide prescription drug addiction help in a safe, supportive way. Clients are medically supervised and treated as they go through their withdrawal, and they are guided through all stages of their recovery. For more information, please visit our prescription drug addiction treatment page.