Signs of prescription pill addiction

What red flags indicate that prescription pills have become a problem in your life? Prescription pill addiction can be characterized by increased tolerance for a drug or by withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not taken. But what are some other signs of Rx dependency? More here.

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Symptoms of prescription pill abuse

Prescription pills used for non medical reasons are considered illicit drugs by the U.S. government. People who are using prescription drugs to get high may exhibit some of the following signs and symptoms. If you observe any of the symptoms or side effects of prescription drug misuse listed below, contact a doctor immediately.



  • confusion
  • depression
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • irritability
  • sedation
  • slurred speech



Opioid pain killer use is particularly characterized by increasing tolerance for the drug. In other words, people who take pain killers over time eventually need more and more of the drug or a combination of drugs to produce the same effect of a high or euphoric feeling. Other signs of opiod use include:

  • apathy
  • constipation
  • drowsiness
  • flushing of the face and neck
  • inability to concentrate
  • lack of energy
  • nausea
  • pupil constriction
  • slowed breathing
  • vomiting


Withdrawal symptoms occur when you stop taking a drug. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable but are not life threatening. Symptoms usually start 12-30 of last dosage and include:

  • abdominal cramping
  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • diarrhea
  • dilated pupils
  • goose bumps
  • muscle aches
  • increased tearing
  • insomnia
  • nausea
  • runny nose
  • sweating
  • vomiting
  • yawning



  • dilated pupils
  • fatigue
  • feelings of confusion
  • impaired judgment
  • intoxication
  • loss of motor coordination
  • lower blood pressure
  • lower inhibitions
  • poor concentration
  • relaxed muscles
  • slowed breathing
  • slurred speech


Depressants work by slowing brain activity, so when you stop taking then, brain activity can rebound and race out of control. This is why you should not stop taking depressants alone. Withdrawal can have life-threatening complications and cause seizures, convulsions, delirium, or even death. Withdrawal symptoms of depressant use include:

  • anxiety
  • delerium
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • muscle tremors
  • seizure
  • weakness



Excessive stimulant use (especially when combined with exercise) can cause death, but usually follows a high fever, convulsions, and heart failure. Other signs of stimulant use include:

  • abdominal cramps
  • aggression
  • anxiety
  • chest pain with palpitations
  • decreased appetite
  • delusions
  • dilated pupils
  • dizziness
  • excessive sweating
  • feelings of panic
  • feelings of restlessness
  • flushed skin
  • headache
  • high blood pressure
  • homicidal tendencies
  • hostility
  • increased breathing rate
  • increased heart rate
  • loss of coordination
  • paranoia with auditory and visual hallucinations
  • suicidal tendencies
  • tremors
  • vomiting


Withdrawal symptoms from stimulants may include:

  • apathy
  • depression
  • disturbance of sleep patterns
  • fatigue


To learn more about seeking help for a prescription pill addiction, check out the four simple steps in help for drug addicts.

Reference Sources:
Parent, the anti-drug website
DEA website
National Libraries of Medicine, Medline Plus summary
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Sorry to ask need info on fast acting tram idol pharamacu made huge mistake 150mg ×3all at once for 26 days I thought it was slow release suffered migraines sore toung had verbal diarea is there long term thing s I should watch for?pharmacy covering it up I already gave back bottle and may have the paperwork left here humans are fallible I blame no one I should have called when I noticed the yellowish pills instead of white just worry that my son does not believe me please email me back thx lori

  2. Hello William. Thanks for your message. MANY people have experienced similar consequences for drinking and drug use. I’m glad that you were able to learn from them and have gotten clean!

    I’m not quite sure about your question, though. Can you clarify what you’re asking?

  3. I am a 65 yr old male. I became an alcoholic age 18 and a 20 plus ciggie smoker. I continued these addictions until i reached 55 years of age, trouble, £250,000.00 at least lost money, jailed twice for drink drive and once for driving whilst disqualified, (3 months) loss of jobs and loss of marriages (3). No one got killed, but they could have if i had had aan accident, i am non violent, Ten years ago I got divorced and moved to Sheffield UK. I told the Doctors that I was giving up drink and nicotine in 7 days, I did so. I am helped with the isims with Diazepam, tramadol,, low doses. plus citalopram,modafinil, reboxitine, and low dose codine. I pay a top Consultant Psychiarist and see him every 3 weeks, Doctor, once a month. Health is good, i play regular tennis 3 times per week, run my own small business, and above all else I have not been in any trouble for ten years, I socialise and have a good reputation in Sheffield. I give freely to cancer charities, something I would never ever had done before. Am I an addict, i do not think so but if I am I do not care, I now have a life!
    Thats my story, good luck to all alcoholics and cigarette smokers, may a better life await you. Sincerely yours Bill

  4. Drug abuse is a major problem in today’s world. It’s basically a human habit that has long turned into an addiction which has taken human civilization by storm. Humans across ages have taken to drugs, while the younger section is more prone to these substances even adults have also often succumb to substance abuse. The main cause of concern for worry is the way it can affect an addict life. The effects are generally both psychological and heath wise. These affects are often disastrous resulting in complete destruction. So it becomes a task of prime importance to fix this problem not only for those who are already addicted but also for those who are already addicted but to prevent the practice of drug abuse.

  5. Thank you for posting this extremely informative list. Being able to identify drug use/abuse and addiction is one of the first steps toward recovery. Increased awareness is so essential to ending the epidemic of addiction in our society. Hopefully this article will help to stimulate a dialogue about drug use and addiction.

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