Prescription Medicine Addiction
People take prescription medicines for
many reasons. They may use them to ease pain, anxiety, or attention deficit disorder. Most
of these people use such possibly addictive medicines correctly. But some people end up
Prescription medicine abuse or misuse is when the medicine is used in a
way other than prescribed by a healthcare provider. The goal of using the medicine becomes
about the experience or feeling that it causes.
In some cases, people may abuse
medicines that aren’t prescribed to them. They may get them from friends or family. Or they
may buy them illegally from someone else. The number of teens and young adults ages 12 to
25 who abuse prescription painkillers has more than tripled since the mid-1990s.
Here is a Q and A about prescription
medicine addiction. It can help you or a loved one seek help, if needed.
Q. What medicines are likely to be
These 3 kinds of prescription medicines are most often abused without a
Opioids. These are for pain relief. They include morphine, codeine, and
medicines that contain hydrocodone, oxycodone, and fentanyl.
Tranquilizers. These are for anxiety and sleep disorders. A few examples
are alprazolam and diazepam.
Stimulants. These are for narcolepsy and attention-deficit/hyperactivity
disorder. Examples are amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, and methylphenidate.
Q. What are the symptoms of prescription addiction?
A. Signs of addiction include:
Loss of control over taking a
Finding ways to get more of a
medicine by making unneeded visits to the emergency room or a healthcare
Taking a medicine more often
Taking higher doses than
instructed because the previous dose did not provide the same effect
Taking a medicine with other
medicines or alcohol
Crushing and snorting a pill
instead of swallowing it
Stealing prescription medicines from family or friends
Q. Who’s at risk for prescription addiction?
A. Both women and men abuse prescription medicines at about the same rate. Women
are twice as likely to become addicted as men. People at the highest risk for addiction
are those who have other addictions or who have abused prescription medicines in the
Q. What steps can be taken to prevent
A. Take medicines only as prescribed. Get possibly addictive medicines only from
a single licensed healthcare provider at one pharmacy.
If you have opioids, tranquilizers,
or stimulant prescription medicines, keep them in a safe place. Lock them up to keep
them secure. Don’t share them with anyone else. The prescription is for only you. If you
no longer need a prescription, dispose of the pills correctly. Many local law
enforcement agencies will help with this. Many communities participate in National Take
Back Day on October 27th of each year. The goal of this event is to reduce the amount of
unused and possibly addictive medicines in the community.