Prescription drug addiction

Prescription drugs are an effective tool in modern medicine, helping to relieve pain, aid sleep and improve mental health conditions. While this all sounds great on the surface, there is a darker side to prescription drugs. They can also be highly addictive, with their abuse leading to physical and psychological dependence. Prescription drug addiction has become a significant problem in the UK and with devastating consequences.

If you are concerned about prescription drug addiction and would like help or advice, Banbury Lodge is here to support you.

Prescription drug addiction - pile of prescription drugs

What are prescription drugs?

Prescription drugs are medications prescribed by a doctor to treat specific medical conditions. There are many different types of prescription drugs, but some of the most commonly abused are amphetamines, opiates and benzodiazepines.

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Amphetamine Addiction

Amphetamines are a class of drugs that stimulate the central nervous system. They are often used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Amphetamines increase the level of dopamine in the brain, which leads to feelings of euphoria and increased energy.

Amphetamine Addiction →

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Benzodiazepine Addiction

Benzodiazepines, also known as “benzos,” are a type of drug used to treat anxiety and insomnia. They work by increasing the activity of a neurotransmitter in the brain called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This results in feelings of relaxation and sedation, but it can also lead to dependence and addiction.

Benzodiazepine Addiction →

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Opiate Addiction

Opiates are a class of drugs derived from opium, which is a naturally occurring substance found in the opium poppy. Prescription opiates include codeine, morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone. They are highly effective at relieving pain, but they are also highly addictive, working by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain and producing a feeling of euphoria and pain relief.

Opiate Addiction →

If you are taking any of these prescription medications and are worried that your usage is getting out of control, Banbury Lodge can help you to find relief from your compulsions and cravings.

How does prescription drug addiction develop?

There are two distinct paths to prescription drug addiction: being prescribed medication by your doctor and recreational use.

Prescribed by a doctor…

For many, prescription drug addiction develops after they are prescribed medication for a legitimate medical need. You may have a chronic pain condition, anxiety or insomnia, and at first, the prescription drug may be highly effective at managing these symptoms.

However, over time, the brain will become tolerant to the drug, which means that you will need a higher dose to achieve the same effect. This can lead to dependence, where you need the prescription drug just to feel normal.

Prescription drug addiction quickly follows once dependence has set in. You may experience intense cravings for the drug and feel a compulsive need to use, even if it is causing harm.

Prescription drug addiction - doctor

Recreational use…

Prescription drug addiction can also develop through recreational use. This is when you take prescription drugs with the aim of getting high, to enhance the effects of other substances or as a way to manage a comedown.

Recreational use of prescription drugs can be particularly dangerous because you may not be aware of the side effects associated with the drug or the correct dosage. It is also likely that prescription drugs will be taken alongside other substances, such as illicit drugs or alcohol, which can prove to be dangerous, and even lethal in some cases.

It is vital to understand that prescription drugs are not inherently safer than illicit drugs, and abusing them can result in serious harm and addiction.

Who is at risk of prescription drug addiction?

The scary thing about this addiction is that it can impact anyone, at any time in their life. Taking these drugs in any capacity could potentially lead to dependency, however, there are several risk factors that can increase your likelihood of developing a prescription drug addiction.

These risk factors include:

  • History of substance abuse: If you have a history of substance abuse, you may be more likely to develop prescription drug addiction.
  • Suffering from mental health disorders: You are more likely to develop prescription drug addiction if you suffer from mental health issues as you could use the drugs to self-medicate.
  • Suffering from chronic pain: If you have chronic pain, you may be more likely to develop prescription drug addiction as you become dependent on the drugs to manage your pain.
  • Using medication outside of the ways it is prescribed: Taking prescription drugs more frequently, in higher doses or for longer than prescribed can heavily increase your risk of addiction.
  • Adolescents and young adults: You are more susceptible to the effects of prescription drugs at a young age, and are therefore more likely to develop an addiction.
  • Family history of addiction: If you have close family members with substance abuse disorder you may also be at risk due to both genetic and environmental factors.
  • History of trauma: If you have experienced trauma, such as abuse or neglect, you may be more likely to develop prescription drug addiction as you may use the drugs to cope with your emotions.

Understanding these risk factors and taking action to prevent prescription drug addiction is important. If you fall into one of the above categories, it is a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider before obtaining a prescription.

Side effects of prescription drugs

Prescription drugs can have a range of side effects depending on the type of drug and how it is used. Some of the most common side effects of prescription drugs include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Slurred speech
  • Respiratory depression
  • Liver and kidney damage
  • Heart problems

Prescription drug addiction - man feeling nauseous

As well as these physical side effects, prescription drugs can also impact your psychological health. Some of the most common psychological side effects include:

  • Problems with memory
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Confusion
  • Mood swings and irritability
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia

If you have experienced any of these side effects, don’t delay. Reach out to Banbury Lodge and get the help you need to overcome your prescription drug addiction.

Spotting prescription drug addiction in a loved one

Spotting a prescription drug addiction is difficult – anyone can take medications for a legitimate medical reason and it is therefore very easy to hide when there’s a problem. Some signs to watch for in friends or family members include:

  • Constant complaints about being unable to renew a prescription
  • Attending multiple doctor’s appointments to try and get a prescription
  • Buying prescription drugs online or on the street
  • Neglecting day-to-day responsibilities
  • Changes to behaviour, for example, becoming more isolated, easily agitated, appearing “out of it”
  • Changes to sleep patterns
  • Experiencing financial difficulties as they try to maintain their prescription drug habit

If you have noticed any of these signs and are worried about a loved one’s prescription drug use, it is important to approach them with compassion and concern. Avoid passing judgments or engaging in confrontation. Instead, you should offer your support and let your family member know you will be there to help them through recovery when they are ready.

Prescription drug addiction: truths and lies

Prescription drug addiction can be a challenging and complex issue to deal with, and it can be difficult to separate the truth from the lies. Addiction can convince you that you need prescription drugs to function, that you will experience pain without them and that they are safe because they are legal.

Unfortunately, the truth is that prescription drugs can damage every area of your life if dependency takes hold. Prescription drug addiction can destroy relationships, impact your career, deplete finances and harm your physical and mental health.

Can I get help for prescription drug addiction?

Recovery from prescription drug addiction is entirely possible with the right treatment plan. Banbury Lodge offers safe and effective prescription drug detox alongside proven therapy techniques that are delivered in individual and group settings. With the assistance of our experienced team, you will be able to address the reasons for your prescription drug addiction, learn how to manage your cravings and prevent relapse.

Prescription drug rehab is a challenging but rewarding experience that will set you up for long-term success. If you are ready and willing to make positive changes in your life, contact our admissions team today.

Frequently asked questions

Should I stop taking my prescription drugs?
It is important to note that not all prescriptions are addictive, and even those that are can provide much-needed relief from various medical conditions. It is therefore important to listen to your doctor’s advice, only take medication as prescribed and talk to them if you are concerned about addiction. Don’t stop taking medication that has been prescribed unless instructed to do so by a medical professional.
Are prescription drugs and prescription medications the same thing?
Yes, prescription drugs and prescription medication are two phrases that can be used interchangeably to describe any drug or medication that is prescribed by a doctor.
Can I die from prescription drug addiction?
Yes, sadly it is possible to overdose on prescription drugs and this can result in respiratory failure and death. Combining prescription drugs with other substances can also prove fatal. For example, taking depressant prescription drugs alongside alcohol (another depressant) can essentially shut down vital bodily functions. Mixing depressants with stimulants can similarly have deadly outcomes as these two opposing forces can cause immense stress on the cardiovascular system.
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Who am I contacting?

Calls and contact requests are answered by admissions at

UK Addiction Treatment Group.

We look forward to helping you take your first step.

0203 553 3757