Prescription Drug Addiction and Treatment

While the majority of people with drug addictions are addicted to illegal substances such as heroin, cocaine, or cannabis, a growing number of individuals in the UK are becoming addicted to prescription medication.

It is hard for many to comprehend the fact that it is possible to become addicted to medications that have been prescribed by a doctor, but the reality is that some prescription medication is highly addictive. Medication such as opioids, depressants and stimulants are prescribed to treat various conditions but have the potential to become addictive if not used as prescribed by a GP.

In most cases, those who have been prescribed prescription painkillers or antidepressants will assume that they are completely safe, but this is not always the case. While the drugs may be deemed necessary and the benefits are assumed to outweigh the risks, there is always the chance that the person taking the medication could develop an addiction.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drugs should always be taken as instructed by a doctor. However, many people are unaware of the dangers of misusing these medications and will give them to others or will take more than they are meant to. This is known as prescription drug abuse.

Patients who begin to rely on their prescription medication may be tempted to take larger doses or take it more often. They may then become tolerant to the effects and will then need to take more and more of the drug. After a while, the body becomes dependent on the medication and will start to expect it. It is only when the prescription ends and the person no longer has access to it does the affected individual realise that he or she cannot do without it.

It is at this point that many patients will return to their doctor for more medication and, if that fails, they may source it on the street, online, or turn to alternative illegal drugs to get the same effects.

Commonly Misused Prescription Drugs

When it comes to prescription drug addiction, three main types are commonly abused; these include opioids, depressants, and stimulants.

  • Opioids such as codeine and OxyContin are strong painkillers and are used to treat those with conditions such as chronic pain and cancer.
  • Depressants include medications such as Xanax and Valium. Doctors commonly prescribe these to treat those with depression or anxiety. They are also prescribed for people who need help to sleep.
  • Stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall are used for treating conditions such as narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction is often left untreated because those affected may not realise they have a serious problem that requires treatment. With so many people assuming that prescription medication is automatically safe, many misuse the drugs without understanding the dangers. It is essential, therefore, that prescription medication is only ever used as prescribed by a doctor, and never given to someone that it was not prescribed for.

Symptoms of prescription drug addiction depend on the actual drug being abused, but behavioural signs of an addiction or dependence to a particular drug will include the following:

  • Needing more of the drug to experience the same effects
  • Finishing the prescription earlier than expected
  • Sourcing prescription medication online
  • Making appointments with more than one doctor to get more drugs
  • Unsuccessfully trying to reduce the amount taken
  • Lying to family members and friends regarding the amount of drugs being taken
  • Hiding medication so loved ones will not see how much is being taken
  • Feeling guilty about the use of the drug
  • Continuing to take the medication despite knowing the negative consequences it is causing.

There is also a number of physical signs that will depend on the drug being abused. These include:


  • Constipation
  • Euphoria
  • Slow breathing
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Drowsiness


  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Memory problems
  • Slow breathing
  • Poor concentration


  • High temperature
  • Reduced appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Paranoia
  • Anxiety

Consequences of a Prescription Drug Addiction

Just like any other addiction, a prescription drug addiction can have serious, negative consequences. If you are taking drugs that were not prescribed for you, you could be damaging your health. If you begin to rely on this medication to the point where it consumes your every waking moment, you could find that other areas of your life will suffer greatly.

Those with a prescription medication addiction may be unable to go to work due to the effects of the drug, and it can affect your ability to take care of responsibilities at home. This type of addiction may also affect relationships with friends and family members. If you are buying prescription medication online or have turned to illegal drugs as an alternative, it could have a negative impact on your financial situation as well.

Causes of Prescription Medication Addiction

Not everyone who takes prescription medication will develop an addiction. While there is always some element of risk due to the nature of the medication, if these are taken as prescribed, they are generally safe to take.

There is no exact cause as to why some individuals will develop an addiction while others will not. Nonetheless, some are more prone to addiction than others, and there are a number of reasons for this. Those with a family history of addiction have an increased risk, as do those who have experienced a traumatic event.

Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction

With more and more people developing addictions to prescription medication, Liberty House Clinic is working very hard to ensure patients can access a high level of care and support at our facility. We have a team of highly skilled and professional staff who have experience in dealing with patients suffering from prescription drug addiction.

We offer various treatments, including elements of 12-step work, cognitive behavioural therapy, and counselling.

For more information on our treatment programme, contact us today.

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