At Rio Vista Behavioral Health, we believe that understanding the signs, symptoms, and possible effects of prescription drug addiction is an important part of the effort to get help for yourself or your loved one. This information can help you identify the problem and begin to explore solutions. Education can be your first step towards recovery from prescription drug addiction.
Learn about prescription drug addiction
When used properly under the supervision of a qualified healthcare provider, prescription drugs can yield tremendous benefits. But when you use prescription drugs in an unsafe manner, whether in an attempt to self-medicate or for recreational purposes, the outcome can be disastrous.
Prescription drug addiction puts you at risk for considerable immediate and long-term harm, including the development of addiction. Whether you have been using opioids, benzodiazepines, stimulants, or other prescription drugs, you are putting your health and your future at risk.
However, with proper care, you can overcome the compulsion to use prescription drugs. With effective professional treatment, you can regain control of your behaviors and achieve a healthier lifestyle that is free from the chains of prescription drug addiction.
Statistics about prescription drug abuse and addiction
The following statistics about prescription drug abuse and addiction in the United States are from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA):
- Experts estimate that about 54 million Americans age 12 or older (or about 20% of the population) have used prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes at least once in their lives.
- Among age groups, prescription drug abuse is most common (at 12%) in the 18-25 demographic.
- The rate of prescription drug abuse among adolescents is 6%; the rate among adults over the age of 25 is 5%.
- Among young adults (ages 18-25), the annual number of deaths due to prescription drug overdose increased from 418 in 1999 to 1,741 in 2014.
- From July 2016 to September 2017, emergency room visits related to prescription opioid overdose rose by 30%.
- Every day, an average of 46 Americans die because of a prescription opioid overdose.
Causes and risk factors for prescription drug addiction
Your risk for prescription drug addiction can be influenced by a variety of genetic and environmental factors, including the following:
- Having a parent or sibling who has struggled with addiction
- Family history of mental illness
- Personal history of other forms of substance use
- Personal history of mental illness
- Your age (prescription drug abuse is most common among individuals ages 18-25)
- Your gender (men abuse prescription drugs at a higher rate than women do)
- Early exposure to substance use
- Experiencing chronic pain, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, or another condition that is treated with a prescription drug
- Easy access to prescription medications
Signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction
Prescription drug addiction can cause a person to experience a variety of symptoms and demonstrate a wide range of signs. While these signs and symptoms may vary widely from drug to drug, the following are common indicators that a person has become addicted to a prescription drug:
- Lying or being otherwise deceitful about your prescription drug use
- “Doctor shopping,” or visiting several physicians in an illicit attempt to get multiple prescriptions
- Borrowing or stealing drugs that were prescribed to another person
- Using prescription drugs when it is clearly unsafe to do so, such as in combination with alcohol
- Continuing to use prescription drugs even after experiencing negative repercussions related to prior use of these drugs
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Losing interest in activities or events that were previously of great importance to you
- Attempting to stop your prescription drug use, but failing to do so
- Irregular heart rate
- Slurred speech
- Impaired coordination
- Shallow breathing
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Changes in energy levels
- Persistent pain
- Lack of focus or concentration
- Periods of hyper-focus or intense concentration
- Confusion or disorientation
- Dramatic mood swings
- Agitation and irritability
- Hallucinations and delusions
Effects of prescription drug addiction
Prescription drug addiction can have a profoundly negative impact on virtually all areas of your life. Depending on which prescription drug you have become addicted to, effects can include the following:
- Organ damage or failure
- Onset or worsening of mental health problems
- Physical injuries due to actions taken while under the influence of prescription drugs
- Worsening of chronic pain
- Other forms of substance use
- Family discord
- Strained or ruined relationships
- Unsatisfactory performance at work or in school
- Job loss and chronic unemployment
- Legal problems, including arrest and incarceration
- Financial problems
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Diminished self-confidence and self-esteem
- Thoughts of suicide
It is important to know that prescription drug addiction is a treatable condition. When you get help at an effective prescription drug addiction treatment program, your life can get much better.
Common co-occurring disorders among people who become addicted to prescription drugs
If you’ve become addicted to a prescription drug, you may also be at increased risk for the following disorders:
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Anxiety disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Withdrawing from prescription drugs, and the risk of overdose
Effects of prescription drug withdrawal: When you’ve become addicted to a prescription drug, and you then try to stop using that drug, your body may respond with a variety of distressing symptoms. This experience is known as withdrawal. Symptoms of prescription drug withdrawal can vary widely, depending on which substance you have been using. The following are common prescription drug withdrawal symptoms:
- Intense cravings for the drug you have been using
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Hot flashes or chills
- Heavy perspiration
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Disrupted sleep
- Disturbing nightmares
- Muscle and bone pain
- Agitation and irritability
Effects of prescription drug overdose: If your use of prescription drugs overwhelms your body’s ability to process these substances, then overdose will occur. Prescription drug overdose can be extremely dangerous, or even fatal. Anyone who demonstrates the following symptoms after using prescription drugs should seek immediate medical attention:
- Shallow, slow, or otherwise labored breathing
- Irregular heart rate (disrupted, too fast, or too slow)
- Chest pain
- Significant change in body temperature
- Hallucinations or delusions
- Loss of consciousness
Reasons for getting comprehensive professional care for prescription drug addiction
Prescription drug addiction is a dangerous and potentially fatal disorder. If you don’t get the right treatment for prescription drug addiction, you risk considerable damage in virtually all areas of your life. However, when you enter an effective prescription drug addiction treatment program, such as Rio Vista Behavioral Health, you can avoid future danger and begin to heal from past harm.
At Rio Vista, compassionate and experienced professionals will guide you through a personalized course of treatment. Following a detailed admissions assessment, you’ll receive the customized services that you need to live the healthier life that you deserve.
If you’ve been incapable of getting through withdrawal prior to starting treatment, you can complete detox with us, then transition directly into our inpatient program. If your struggles with prescription drug addiction are accompanied by one or more additional mental health challenges, your treatment will include appropriate care for dual diagnosis.
When you choose Rio Vista, you take a significant step on the path towards lifelong recovery from prescription drug addiction.