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How to identify prescription drug addiction

Every morning growing up, my dad would take a pill.  Regular.  Like clock-work.  Sometime around coffee and the morning newspaper.  And then if his broken ankle would swell in the evening, or if the humidity got to him, or if he would run the bases too quickly during softball he would take another pill at night.  These pills, Percocet, were administered to him by his doctor, who kept filling the prescriptions month after month, year after year.  It wasn’t until I was in a halfway house that I learned that you can get kicked out of halfway houses for taking Percocet, an opiate whose potential for abuse is somewhat limited by the presence of paracetamol (acetaminophen).”Weird,” I thought.  Is my dad an addict?

When used to get high, or without the supervision of a physician, prescription drugs and cold and cough medicine can be every bit as dangerous as illegal drugs.   According to a recent Partnership for a Drug Free America survey, more than half of teens who tried medication without a prescription think that they are more safe than street drugs (wrong).  But what exactly are people who are abusing prescription medications taking?  Mainly …

  • Sedatives
  • Stimulants
  • Pain relievers

There’s no easy way to figure out if someone that you love is using scripts as drugs to get high.  In fact, a lot of people may already be suffering from prescription drug addiction without knowing it.  Many of the signs and symptoms of prescription substance abuse are also symptoms of mental health issues, including depression or anxiety disorders.  Decide, in advance, how you’ll respond to possible addiction.  Have a game plan when approaching someone you love to confront them about symptoms of addiction. Experts strongly recommend that your loved one be professionally assessed if you suspect something is going on. Some signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction include…


  • Accidents or injuries
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Clenching teeth
  • Depression
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent sickness
  • Headaches
  • Nosebleeds
  • Poor hygiene
  • Queasy, nauseous
  • Red, flushed cheeks or face
  • Runny nose, not caused by allergies or a cold
  • Seizures
  • Skin abrasions/bruises
  • Sores, spots around mouth
  • Sudden appetite or “munchies”
  • Sweatiness
  • Vomiting


  • Change in relationships with family members or friends
  • Deceitful or secretive
  • Decreased motivation
  • Disappearances for long periods of time
  • Hostility or anger
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inability to focus
  • Laughing at nothing
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Loud, obnoxious behavior
  • Makes endless excuses
  • Mood changes or emotional instability
  • Periods of insomnia or high energy followed by “catch up” sleep
  • Silent, uncommunicative
  • Slurred speech, or rapid-fire speech
  • Unusual lack of coordination
  • Unusually elated
  • Unusually tired
  • Withdrawn, depressed


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  • Cash flow problems
  • Complaints from teachers or co-workers
  • Disappearance of prescription of over-the-counter pills
  • Failure to fulfill responsibilities
  • Going out every night
  • Locked doors
  • Loss of interest in school or work

Do you have a story to share?  Any feelings about prescription drug addiction?  Do that here … your comments are welcomed and will be posted.

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23 Responses to “How to identify prescription drug addiction
10:02 pm January 23rd, 2009

Sometimes, it’s hard to see addiction in the people that are closest to us. It seems normal. Thanks for sharing this powerful story.

6:42 am January 27th, 2009

Prescription drug abuse is very popular today especially amongst our young children. The sooner they quit, the better off they will be. They must first change their mind set before they attemp to get off of these prescription drugs. The battle will be hard but it can be done, no doubt.


7:46 pm February 4th, 2009

Thank you for sharing that powerful story. The information you provided is very informative and helpful. Prescription drug use is becoming more and more of a problem in today’s society. I would also like to recommend another website with useful information on prescription drug use.

4:40 am April 10th, 2009

I was addicted to vicodin for 3 years and my life was a living hell. Constantly worrying about getting enough to stop the withdrawal, risking life and limb to keep supplied ,,not to mention the money. I lucked out and found a program locally that got me off that shit FOREVER..and I wish that everyone in my situation could find this kind of help. I went to Recovered Life and was treated with respect and total professional attitude–nobody was judgmental. I live in the Midwest US and the clinic is in Chicago. It seemed expensive at first but I researched it and they were the best deal. The nurse was with me by phone every step of the way but I never really suffered! I only missed one day of work. Suboxone is a miracle and Recovered Life has my vote for best treatment around.

7:46 pm April 17th, 2009

thanks for the post. Yes, I agree how difficult it is to figure out if someone is addicted to pain killers or other scripts. Explaining you are concerned for them is always the first step. It can a helpful seed for them to ask their doctor if this the right medication. It could be a great eye openner.

Jessica Steinberg
9:05 pm May 4th, 2009

When you grow up around an addict, their behavior may not seem unusual. Alternatively, I have found that many parents ignore the signs in their teenagers, taking their changed behavior as something that just comes with the difficult age.
Thank you for posting such a thorough article, it was a pleasure to read.

9:41 pm June 16th, 2009

My sister is an addict so i know how hard it is and now she is recieveing perscribeed suboxon in order to help her with the craving of the drugs she wants. so having this information can help alot of people to understand and see that this happens more then you think.

5:18 am November 10th, 2009

It is very hard to see drug addiction in the family when U do not want to.

Bill Blake
12:25 am November 12th, 2009

Addiction drug prescription is a deceptive and deadly disease. I wish you all the best of luck in your recovery.

Bobby Deerfield
12:16 am November 16th, 2009

Addiction drug prescription can be a deceptive and wanton beast. If you have a problem with pills, get help now!

11:47 am February 8th, 2010

I find that doctors nowadays easily prescribe medicines that can lead to addictions. That’s a terrible thing since people often don’t have any idea that they have become addicts.

1:07 pm February 18th, 2010

Big Pharma likes drugs that treat the symptoms but don’t cure the disease. And the side effects are almost always worse than the disease: one on that list is Purple Glove Syndrome…

sasha pearl
9:01 pm March 17th, 2010

These symptoms are correct. I myself am an addict and about 70% applied to me. I have not gone to a Dr for help yet but am considering it.

Her Broken Wing
5:31 am May 4th, 2010

Thank you…

I have posted your article on my blog.. Her Broken Wing… I am a recovering Nurse… addicted to Prescribed Pain meds…

good article..

thank you,
Beautifully Awkward…

Veritas Villa
7:42 pm June 7th, 2010

Prescription drug addiction seems to be a growing epidemic. The line can be particularly blurry, especially when the drug use has the endorsement of a medical professional. Just recently, Intervention featured a young woman who became addicted to pain killers after they were prescribed for her for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Although she was addicted to the painkillers, she was also in legitimate pain, which needed to be treated. Prescription drug addiction is a very complicated, often confusing situation.

8:45 pm June 16th, 2010

Excellent article. Ruth Sanchez-Way, of the US Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP), has coined substance abuse issues among older adults the “Silent Epidemic”. CSAP reports that about 17% of older Americans 60 years of age and older misuse prescription drugs, alcohol or both. At a recent National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) forum, US officials reported that they expected the number of older adults with alcohol and drug issues to increase by 150% by 2020.

Keneth Howat
9:41 am October 27th, 2010

im on day 3 of the most difficult journey of my life so far and was looking for a little help along the way found this site . just reading that there are people out their in a similar situation to me but just that little bit further on gives me the strength to carry on.

2:38 pm October 27th, 2010

Keneth – Please email me if you need help finding treatment resources in your local area. I can help refer you to prescription pill addiction treatment if you like.

Slow Fade
4:19 pm January 30th, 2011

My husband has been addicted to xanax and now due to a knee injury, loratab as well. There is such a stigma of shame attached to addiction. I have found such great support through my church family. Unfortunately, while my husband has an opportunity to attend a 6 week inpatient Christian Rehab (Penfield Christian Homes) he has found one excuse after another to go.He has been to a medical rehab twice and we have found that all they do is exchange one drug for another.
After 15 years of enabling him I have finally decided to exhibit “tough love” and have left my home, the most difficult thing I have ever done. Prescription drugs tear families apart. I can only pray that my husband gets help so that our family can be reconciled.

9:52 pm January 31st, 2011

Dear Slow Fade,

You have probably done the best thing possible in leaving the home. I’m sure it’s very difficult, so please lean on your church family for support.
My suggestion to you would be to educate yourself and focus on why you were willing to do endure this for so long.

There is life after addiction, with or without your husband. Now is the time to become empowered by healthy behaviors that can restore your life to sanity.
Find material on Codependency and hopefully a workbook that will help you address the family behaviors. Melodie Beattie has a great book called ‘Codependency No More’, You can Google here name and book and find many resources.

I will keep you in my prayers!
Dr. Steve

Chiropractic Lover
7:26 pm January 7th, 2012

Addiction for any kind of drugs or specially pain killers are very bad habits. Thank you for your valuable information. nice article.

7:38 pm August 30th, 2012

The only option for A full physical and mental recovery is a 12 step program. It doesn’t matter what drug you’re addicticted to because all addiction is the same. I chose to use alcoholics anonymous in my recovery even though opiates are my drug of choice simply because AA is much greater in numbers, strength, and success in my area. Some of you may believe you have the power to live a sober life using will power but those of you who think this way will be miserable and will not stay sober forever until you fully commit to a 12 step program. The drugs and alcohol are not the issue however your thinking is.

3:12 pm July 10th, 2014

I’ve been through this. I’m only 19. Ive gotten over this and I can tell you first hand that the craving will never ever go away but hope will always be there.

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