Drug addiction is something that affects those who abuse illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, crystal meth, etc. Most people are aware of this, but a growing number of individuals are developing addictions to other types of drugs – drugs that have been prescribed by their doctor. Prescription drug addiction is something that not too many people know about, but many others struggling to kick a habit that they did not even realise they had until their prescription ran out.

What is Prescription Drug Addiction?

Prescription drugs are commonly given to patients who are suffering from moderate to severe pain caused by legitimate medical conditions. They are also prescribed for the treatment of other conditions such as sleep disorders and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

However, prescription medication should only be taken on a temporary basis because they can be so addictive. Those who abuse these substances could end up with a prescription drug addiction that can have a negative impact on their lives. Nonetheless what constitutes prescription medication abuse?

Taking prescription medication that has been prescribed for another person would be classed as abuse. Many people believe that anything prescribed by a doctor must be safe, so it must be okay for them to take it too. Those who decide to up their dose without being instructed to by their doctor are also guilty of prescription drug abuse. This is a very common occurrence because, again, many people are of the opinion that any medication prescribed by a doctor is completely safe. They cannot see the harm in taking an extra pill or taking their pills a little bit earlier in order to relieve their symptoms.

What they do not realise is that by abusing this medication, they could be building up a tolerance to the drugs, which could lead to a physical dependence and full-blown addiction. Those who are affected by prescription drug addiction will probably have to undergo a programme of detox and rehabilitation in order to get better.

Huge Problem

Despite the fact that so many individuals do not even realise that prescription medication addiction is a recognised illness, incidences of this in the UK are among some of the highest in Europe. For many years, prescription drug addiction has been considered to be a US-based problem, but new figures and research have shown that it has become a massive problem in Europe, with British people being particularly affected.

New research has shown that adults in the UK are more likely to be affected by prescription drug addiction than adults in other European countries. Nearly ten per cent of British adults admitted to a pattern of stimulant abuse. The second highest figure was 6.8 per cent for Spanish adults and 6.1 per cent of Swedish adults.

However, when it came to abuse of prescription painkillers, the Spanish came out on top. Spanish adults were ahead of British adults on 18.3 per cent, with 14.6 per cent of British adults admitting to painkiller abuse. Germans were the least likely to abuse these pills, with only 9.6 per cent admitting to prescription painkiller abuse.

Comparative Study

Lead author of the research, Dr Scott Novak said, “This is the first comparative study of prescription drug abuse in the European Union. Previously it was thought that the prescription drug epidemic was limited to the United States, but this study shows that the epidemic extends well beyond the US.”

Dr Novak believes that the problem needs to be monitored and tackled, and he called for collaborations across European countries. According to his research, those who abuse prescription drugs tend to get them from friends and family members. However, other prescription drug abusers admitted to stealing medication from loved ones without these persons knowing. While some people do source prescription medication online, this was the least common source.

Do You Have a Prescription Drug Addiction?

If you have been prescribed prescription medication, then you are at risk of addiction. These drugs are highly addictive and dangerous when abused. You may not even realise that you have been abusing your medication. However, if you feel anxious when you are drawing near to the end of your prescription, or if you have tried to source the drugs from a number of doctors, it could be that you have become psychologically and physically dependent on them.

Other signs of a prescription drug addiction include lying to family and friends about your use of the drugs and losing interest in things that you previously enjoyed. You may also notice that you are taking more of the drug than you used to in order to achieve the desired effect. If this is the case, then it is likely you have built up a tolerance to the drug. Your body has become used to the effects of the drug, and you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea and sweating when you have not taken it.

If you can identify with the above signs, then it is important to seek help as soon as possible as you may well have a prescription drug addiction.


  1. British abuse of prescription drugs some of the worst in Europe