Signs and Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

Individuals who are addicted to prescription drugs show many symptoms, some of which are caused by any type of drug abuse and some which are specific to that drug. While drug addiction in general has its own signs, there are several types of prescription drugs with telltale symptoms that point to their abuse and the individual’s possible addiction.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

There are many particular signs and symptoms that are common across the board when it comes to addiction. If you notice some of these signs in an individual you know, they may already be addicted to prescription drugs:

  • They stop spending time with individuals who don’t abuse the drug.
  • They steal or forge prescriptions in order to get more of the drug.
  • They stop “caring about their physical appearance” and often do not eat (NLM).
  • They become hostile when you ask them about their drug use.

You may notice these behaviors in yourself if you are abusing prescription drugs. These point to an addiction, but there are also symptoms that only you may notice in yourself. These are:

  • You abuse drugs even when you’re alone.
  • You don’t feel normal or happy unless you are abusing drugs.
  • You think about abusing drugs all the time, even when you are not currently doing it.
  • You are not in control of your abuse of prescription drugs.

The final symptom is the most important and, often, one only you can truly be sure of. If you cannot control your drug use, you are definitely addicted and should seek help.

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction to Certain Prescription Drugs

Someone who is addicted to stimulants will experience different side effects and behavioral issues from someone who is addicted to opioids. According to the NIDA, the most commonly abused prescription drugs are opioids, CNS depressants, and stimulants.

prescription drug abuse

It is important to recognize the signs of addiction.

  • Opioid addiction (painkillers like morphine, codeine, and oxycodone)
    • Signs: constipation, sweating, mood swings, withdrawal symptoms that are similar to the flu, problems with coordination, low blood pressure
    • Symptoms: depression, apathy, confusion
  • CNS depressant addiction (anti-anxiety medications and sleep disorder medications like benzodiazepines and barbiturates)
    • Signs: fast and involuntary eye movements, constant drowsiness, irritability, sleep problems, memory problems
    • Symptoms: dizziness, depression, nausea, headaches
  • Stimulant addiction (ADHD medications like dextroamphetamine, amphetamine, and lisdexamfetamine)
    • Signs: irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, severe weight loss, mania, hallucinations, psychosis, stroke, seizures
    • Symptoms: agitation, insomnia, restlessness, extreme depression when off stimulants, an inability to feel pleasure when off stimulants

Different prescription medications cause many different signs and symptoms of addiction. The strongest symptom, though, is whether the individual feels in control of their drug abuse. If they do not feel in control and they are unable to stop on their own, this is the surest symptom of addiction.

It can be difficult to know if you are not the addicted individual so talking to them at a time when you think it might be beneficial and safe is a good plan. Sometimes, addicted individuals don’t know it themselves so if you are concerned about your own abuse of prescription drugs, ask yourself if you are in control and able to stop using on your own. If not, you need to seek treatment.