When talking about prescription pill addiction, the first thought that comes to mind is often prescription opioids (or prescription pain killers). While opioid pain medications are among the most commonly misused or abused prescription pills, they are not the only drugs people misuse. In addition to opioids, sedatives, benzodiazepines, depressants, and stimulant addictions lead to significant challenges for millions of people each year.

2017 statistics on drug use and misuse in the United States indicated up to 6% of the United States population (over the age of 12) had misused a prescription drug in the last year. Unfortunately, very few who develop an addiction to prescription drugs will ever get help to overcome their addiction at a Santa Barbara treatment center like Casa Serena.

What Prescription Pills are Commonly Abused?

Unfortunately, many who develop an addiction to prescription pills do so after being prescribed the medication by a medical or mental health provider for a legitimate reason. Teens and adults alike often believe prescription drugs to be safer than other drugs because a medical professional prescribes them. Therefore, they are more likely to struggle with the effects of tolerance and addiction because they do not necessarily realize the potential dangers of many prescription drugs.

There are multiple categories of prescription pills. Although problems with misuse and abuse occur in all, some types contain drugs that are abused or misused with greater frequency. This includes opioid drugs (prescription pain killers), stimulants, and sedatives.

Opioids or prescription pain killers are prescribed to treat severe or chronic pain conditions. They are also among the most overprescribed medication classes. Common opioids include OxyContin, Lortab, Morphine, and Percocet. Ritalin, a commonly prescribed stimulant, is typically prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy; however, it is also frequently abused due to the energizing effects it produces. Another commonly abused stimulant drug is Adderall.

Sedative drugs, sometimes called tranquilizers, are used to produce feelings of sedation. This category of prescription drugs includes benzodiazepines like Valium, Ativan, and Xanax, as well as sleeping medications.

What Other Prescription Drugs are Abused?

In addition to opioids, stimulants, and sedatives, another widely abused prescription drug class are depressant drugs. Depressant drugs include barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and medications used to manage sleeping disorders. Most of these drugs are class III and IV drugs based on the DEA scheduling information. Medical and mental health professionals prescribe depressants to induce sedation and reduce feelings of anxiety for patients struggling with anxiety disorders. Examples of frequently prescribed depressants include Valium, Xanax, Diazepam, Ambien, Klonopin, and Phenobarbital.

What are the Signs of a Prescription Pill Addiction?

The signs of prescription pill addiction may not be evident in all cases. Sometimes, depending on the person and the substance, it can be difficult to tell if their symptoms occur due to using the drug as prescribed or from improper use. Additionally, the effects one experiences when taking a particular pill drug may be the desired results of using a particular prescription rather than an indicator of prescription pill abuse or misuse. Despite certain “substance-specific” effects, however, some indicators of prescription pill abuse are often seen across most substances and may suggest a need for treatment to address prescription pill addiction.

Prescription drug addiction symptoms fall into three categories: physical symptoms, psychological symptoms, and behavioral symptoms. Typical physical and behavioral signs of prescription drug abuse may include mood swings, increased isolation, financial or legal problems, breathing problems, speech challenges, skin sores, cardiac issues, and stomach problems. A person may also experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop or reduce how often they use. Someone struggling with a prescription drug addiction may also experience psychological (mental health) symptoms, including anxiety, depression, anxiety, and symptoms linked to psychosis.

How to Find Treatment for a Prescription Pill Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with prescription drug abuse and are ready to begin your journey toward recovery, remember that overcoming an addiction to prescription drugs can be a complex journey. Although it may seem easier to quit “cold turkey,” the powerful symptoms that can often accompany withdrawal may lead to relapse without treatment help and support. The safest and most effective way to quit prescription drugs and achieve lasting sobriety is to get help at a women-focused treatment program at Casa Serena. If you are ready to put struggles with prescription pill addiction in the past, contact a member of our admissions team today to learn more about how we can help you get started on your journey to recovery.

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