Prescription Drug Addiction Causes, Symptoms & Signs

Erlanger Behavioral Health Hospital offers high-quality services and support for adults and senior adults who are struggling with prescription drug addiction. Located in Chattanooga, TN, Erlanger is a leading provider of prescription drug addiction treatment.

Understanding Prescription Drug Addiction

Learn about prescription drug addiction

When used as directed by a qualified healthcare provider, prescription medications can produce powerful positive results. However, when abused, prescription medications can negatively alter an individual’s life.

The following are examples of common types of medications that fall within the broad category of prescription drugs:

  • Anti-anxiety medications (Xanax, Klonopin, Valium)
  • Pain medications (morphine, OxyContin, Vicodin)
  • Sedatives (Ambien)
  • Stimulants (Ritalin, Adderall)

The pleasurable and beneficial effects of these prescription medications unfortunately entice people who wish to use them to self-medicate or for recreational purposes. Regardless of what prompts a person to abuse prescription medications, the risks remain the same. Prescription drug abuse can put you at risk for a myriad of negative outcomes, including addiction and overdose.

Prescription drug addiction can be difficult to overcome on your own. But when you enter an effective prescription drug treatment center, your life can get much better. With proper professional care, you can learn how to make the lifestyle changes that will support long-term recovery.


Statistics about prescription drug addiction

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported the following statistics about prescription drug abuse and addiction:

Causes & Risk Factors

Causes and risk factors for prescription drug addiction

Your risk for developing an addiction to prescription medications may be influenced by a variety of factors. The following factors put you at higher risk for becoming addicted to prescription drugs:

  • Having a close family member with an addiction
  • Having a mental illness
  • Socializing with others who use drugs
  • Being prescribed a medication for medical use
  • Having experienced trauma

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of prescription drug addiction

Prescription drug abuse and addiction can cause a person to exhibit a range of signs and symptoms. Each person’s struggle with prescription drug addiction will be unique. However, the following are among the more common signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction:

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Stealing
  • Frequent absences from work or school
  • Visiting multiple doctors in hopes of obtaining multiple prescriptions
  • Alterations in performance at work or in school (some prescriptions might cause temporary improvements in performance, while others might cause a decline in productivity)
  • Lying
  • Losing interest in activities one once enjoyed
  • Social withdrawal

Physical symptoms:

  • Lack of hygiene
  • Significant weight gain/loss
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Tremors/shakes
  • Poor coordination

Mental symptoms:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Sharp changes in mood/behavior
  • Feeling emotionally detached


Effects of prescription drug addiction

Without receiving professional treatment, you may be at risk for severe negative effects related to continued abuse of prescription medications. It’s important to seek help for prescription drug addiction as soon as possible. Here are some of the effects that prescription drug addiction can have:

  • Dropping out of school
  • Being fired from work
  • Chronic unemployment
  • Financial strain
  • Stresses in all relationships, personal and professional
  • Arrest and incarceration
  • Onset or worsening of mental illness
  • Memory loss
  • Suicidal thoughts and ideation

Please know that these effects can be avoided with proper treatment and a commitment to recovery. No matter how long you’ve been struggling with an addiction to prescription drugs, it’s never too early or too late to seek the help you need. Getting treatment today can put you on the path to a much healthier and happier tomorrow.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Common co-occurring disorders among people who have prescription drug addiction

If you struggle with prescription drug addiction, you may have an elevated likelihood of also suffering from any of the following co-occurring disorders:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Depressive disorders
  • Additional substance use disorders
  • Borderline personality disorder

Effects of Prescription Drug Withdrawal & Overdose

Symptoms of prescription drug withdrawal and the potential impact of prescription drug overdose

Effects of withdrawal: When you become addicted to prescription drugs, your body adapts to the presence of these substances. When you then try to stop using prescription medications, your body may react with a variety of painful symptoms. The following are common symptoms of prescription drug withdrawal:

  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Tremors/shakes
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Vivid dreams
  • Restlessness
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Profuse sweating

Effects of overdose: Overdosing on prescription medications can be dangerous and possibly fatal. If you suspect that someone has been abusing prescription medications, and they show any of the following effects, it’s critical to contact emergency services as soon as possible.

  • Severe breathing difficulties
  • Dilated pupils
  • Severe dizziness
  • Inability to communicate
  • Clammy skin
  • Seizures
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Coma
Marks of Quality Care
  • The Joint Commission (JCAHO) Gold Seal of Approval