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Prescription Pills Addiction: What It Looks Like

prescription pills addiction

Are prescription pills additive? The short answer is; yes. Yes, you can become addicted to prescription pills. The longer answer is also going to be yes because when you strip it all away, the addictive quality of a drug or a person’s own predisposition to an addictive nature doesn’t go away just because a doctor prescribed the medicine.

As your brain starts to change from abusing drugs, even ones your doctor writes for, it gets more and more difficult to practice self-control and fight the urge to take more. Their effects and what they’re designed to do are just too effective.


Prescription Pills Addiction

There’s an easy trust and ultimately a genuine perception that because a doctor is recommending and endorsing a prescription pill regimen that it’s fully safe. This isn’t to say that doctors don’t deserve trust or don’t have your best interests in mind, most of the time it works out fine, but it’s important to know that these substances are addictive. Even while controlled and meant to be taken in a specific manner, they still can hook you.


Commonly Prescribed Pills 

There are a lot of pills you or your loved one can be prescribed but the most common, and most topical, are benzodiazepines and opioids. According to the National Institute of Health, more than 30% of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepine (colloquially called “benzos”).


Benzos are central nervous system depressants, some of the most familiar being Xanax, Ativan and Valium. They are commonly prescribed for things like anxiety, insomnia, alcohol withdrawal and seizures. These function as tranquilizers and sedatives for the most part.


Opioids are painkillers and are used to treat all sorts of chronic and severe pain that people commonly have. Everything from headaches to recovery from surgery to those undergoing cancer treatment. Opioids are widely used and extremely widely prescribed. The most well known are Codeine, Fentanyl, Oxycodone and Morphine.

The scourge of opioid addiction shows up in the dramatically increased number of overdose deaths over the years which increased by 5 times between 1999 and 2016. In a similar span, 1996 to 2013, benzodiazepine prescriptions increased by nearly 70%.

As previously mentioned, the combination of the two is particularly lethal because they work to suppress breathing and sedate the user.

Signs of Prescription Pill Addiction

There’s a wide array of signs that addiction may be taking hold, concerning opioids and benzos in particular, here are things to keep an eye out for;


  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Feeling high
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • Drowsiness


  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Increased dose needed to relieve pain
  • Worsening or increased sensitivity to pain with higher doses
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Unsteady walking
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor concentration
  • Dizziness
  • Problems with memory
  • Slowed breathing


There’s quite a bit of overlap between the two and like anyone worried about their loved one potentially being addicted to anything, let alone something that’s prescribed by a medical professional, it’s important to pay close attention to these signs so they don’t exacerbate. 

Naturally, when confronted, your family member or friend will very likely deny they have a problem with their prescription. They’ll work to downplay the severity of it. Don’t take them at their word, things can easily snowball as the user begins taking ever-increasing doses as they build a tolerance to the drugs. The situation can go from manageable to unmanageable in what feels like the blink of an eye.


Get Help at Principles Recovery Center

At Principles Recovery Center in South Florida, we’ve seen the damage that addiction to prescription drugs can cause and have helped countless patients through the journey to getting their lives back, if this is something that touches your life or the life of someone you know, please reach out to us today and let us help! 

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