Am I Addicted to Prescription Medications?

Prescription medication abuse is a growing problem among every age group.

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, roughly 9.7 million Americans over age 12 reported misusing prescription pain medication within the last year. About 5.9 million said they had abused prescription tranquilizers and sedatives, and 4.9 million abused stimulant medications.

What Prescriptions are Being Abuse?

There are many prescription medications that can become addictive when misused.

Some examples are Xanax, Ativan, Ambien, Adderall, and Ritalin. However, prescription opioids are among the most addictive. Commonly abused prescription opioids include OxyContin, Vicodin, methadone, and codeine.

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health report showed that the rate of prescription pain medication abuse is slowly on the decline. However, opioid abuse continues to be a threat to public health. In addition to prescription opioids, illegal street drugs like heroin and fentanyl are also fueling the opioid epidemic.

In 2018, nearly 70% of the 67,367 overdose-related deaths involved an opioid, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s believed that between 21-29% of people who get prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.

Most people take prescription medications as directed by a medical professional without any issues. But some prescription drugs are more addictive than others. People who are dealing with underlying mental health issues or unhealed trauma may misuse medication to self-medicate and cope with their emotions.

If you think you’re suffering from prescription medication addiction, you’re not alone. Over 18 million Americans say they have misused prescriptions within the last year. To help you figure out if your prescription medication use is problematic, take the short quiz below.

bpd and addiction

Take the Test

DISCLAIMER: This quiz is not meant to be used as a formal diagnostic tool. It should be used to help you understand your prescription medication habits. If you feel that you’re struggling with prescription medication addiction, we recommend contacting a substance abuse counselor who can suggest appropriate treatment.

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In addition to physical cravings, someone with an addiction issue will also spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about their drug of choice. These thoughts become a compulsion and impossible to control, which leads to drug-seeking behavior that can sometimes be criminal.
Feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, despair, and the like are often at the root of substance abuse. The substance might temporarily mask these feelings, but they return once the high wears off, creating a vicious circle of drug abuse.
Taking a substance will temporarily stop the cravings and compulsion for it, but soon the same feelings return. In time, it takes more and more of the same substance to achieve the same effect it once had.
People addicted to drugs and alcohol may feel like they have no control over their drug use. Refraining from using or stopping seems to be an impossibility for them. The substance controls them, rather than the other way around.
Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol will continue to seek them out even if their addiction has made them lose friends, family, spouses, and jobs. Drug-seeking behavior can even lead to diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

More About Prescription Drug Addiction: Signs & Symptoms

You may also be dealing with prescription drug dependence if you are exhibiting certain symptoms

The symptoms largely depend on what drugs you are taking. Here are the common side effects associated with prescription medication abuse:

  • Opioids—Nausea, feeling euphoric, drowsiness, confusion, increased tolerance, poor coordination, digestive issues.
  • Sedatives/antidepressants—Confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, slowed breathing, slurred speech, poor coordination.
  • Stimulants—Increase alertness, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, reduced appetite, insomnia, irritability, anxiety.

One of the most obvious signs of prescription drug addiction is withdrawal side effects, which can occur between 12-24 hours after your last dose of medication. Drug withdrawal side effects can range from mild to severe, and generally cause physical discomfort. This is why many prescription drug addicts struggle to get sober on their own.

Some of the common prescription drug withdrawal side effects include:

  • Mood swings
  • Paranoia
  • Fatigue
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Hallucinations
  • Body aches
  • Depressed mood
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Prescription Drug Abuse Can Occur Whether You are Prescribed the Drugs or Not

Here’s another thing to consider. Being addicted to prescription drugs doesn’t necessarily mean you’re taking medications that are prescribed to you personally.

Many people take prescription drugs that belong to other people or are purchased illegally. Research shows this is often the case with young adults, particularly when it comes to Adderall abuse.

Adderall is one of the most widely prescribed stimulant medications that is used to manage ADD and ADHD. It has to be prescribed by a doctor, yet the drug is still easily accessible on many college campuses. Data from 2018 showed that about 11% of college students and about 8% of non-college students reported misusing Adderall within the last year.

The same goes for prescription opioids. Many people who suffer from chronic pain purchase opioids illegally if they can’t get a prescription from their doctor. Or, they have a prescription but need refills faster than what’s allowed, or need a stronger dose because they’ve developed a tolerance. At that point, some people buy higher potency opioids illegally because their own prescription no longer helps them.

Any form of prescription drug addiction is dangerous, and it can have long term consequences for your mental and physical health. If you or someone you love is dealing with prescription drug addiction, consider treatment at Nexus Recovery in Los Angeles.

At Nexus Recovery, our team specializes in mental health and substance abuse treatment. We offer a partial hospitalization program, intensive outpatient, and outpatient program based on the client’s needs.

Every client receives a personalized treatment program using tools like individual therapy, group therapy, 12-step groups, life skills coaching, group outings, peer mentorship, health and fitness coaching, and more.

Send us a message online or call our admissions team at (310) 881-9151 for a free and confidential consultation.

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, we’re here to help. Contact us today and speak with one of our trusted recovery advisors.

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