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Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment Centers


It’s easy to think that because a drug is legal and available through a doctor’s prescription, that it’s perfectly safe. This is actually very far from the case – when prescription drugs are abused they can be just as dangerous as illegal street drugs like heroin and cocaine. Sometimes they’re even derived from the same chemicals.

Which prescription drugs are most commonly abused?


Various opiate drugs are used to treat moderate to severe pain and are prescribed after injury and surgery, or for long-term chronic conditions like arthritis. Opiate painkillers create a euphoric feeling and completely eliminate pain, which makes them highly psychologically addictive in addition to the physical addiction which may develop. Some users even crush and snort the tablets, or inject them, which makes any delayed responses act immediately and create a more intense high.

If opiate painkillers are mixed with alcohol, they are more likely to result in an overdose. They also sedate the user, causing a risk of choking on their vomit. Some choose to snort or inject crushed opiate painkiller tablets, which can result in powder in the blood stream. This can damage arteries and veins and lead to tissue infections.

Central Nervous System Depressants

Benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium and Klonopin are used to treat anxiety disorders and insomnia. They depress the nervous system, decreasing brain activity and producing a calming effect. The addictive properties of benzodiazepines are particularly dangerous because they can become addictive even when taken at the correct dosage.

CNS depressants slow the body and brain down to such a point that it can cause respiratory problems. As with opiates, it’s very dangerous to consume alcohol while taking benzos, and can lead to overdose resulting in coma or death.


Commonly prescribed stimulants include Adderall and Ritalin, which mainly treat attention deficit disorder. They essentially give the body and brain a ‘kick start’, providing more energy and alertness. If abused and taken in higher quantities, stimulants can induce heart problems and higher than normal body temperatures.

Mixing stimulants and alcohol is also dangerous, but for slightly different reasons. Stimulants will disguise slurred speech and slowed movements, making excessive drinking much more difficult to detect – dangerous levels of alcohol consumption are much more likely because of this.

Signs of addiction

Regardless of the type of prescription, there are some common behavioral signs that can indicate an addiction:

  • Getting multiple prescriptions from different doctors, also known as “doctor shopping”.
  • Behaving defensively when the drug is mentioned or their need for them challenged.
  • Feeling preoccupied and worried when the next dosage is due or the effects begin to wear off.
  • Stealing valuable items or borrowing money.
  • Going to extreme lengths to source the medication (buying it illegally or stealing it).

Recovering from addiction to prescription drugs

Recovery depends largely on the type of prescription drug an individual is addicted to, but for opiates in particular, drugs like methadone and buprenorphine are advised to lessen withdrawal symptoms. It is often the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms associated with opiates, which make recovery difficult for addicts.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is often crucial in addiction management, because it teaches healthy patterns of thinking and helps patients take responsibility for their own feelings and psychological impulses.

After detoxification, the major challenge is preventing relapse and helping the individual recovering from addiction to feel motivated enough to stay clean permanently.

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