It is an unfortunate truth that some prescription drugs come with a danger of addiction. As many healthcare professionals and researchers will point out, any psychoactive substance — a substance that changes your brain chemistry — can be addicting. When psychoactive prescription drugs are taken in ways other than prescribed, even accidentally, the risk of addiction often becomes very real, very quickly. Addictive prescription drugs include psychotherapy medications that treat seizures, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, ADHD and personality disorders, as well as pain relief narcotics. Common categories include amphetamines, benzodiazepines and opioids.
The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimated that nearly 4 million Americans had recently abused prescription drugs, including psychotherapy medications and painkillers. What’s more, it is possible to become addicted to prescription drugs even if you are not taking them recreationally. Many psychoactive drugs, particularly benzodiazepines and opioids, are not designed to be used frequently over time. If you or a loved one take a prescription medication and have been exhibiting signs of dependency, it could be time to seek medical attention for addiction. Some indicators of dependence and addiction include:
- Taking increasingly higher or more frequent doses
- Seeking multiple refills for a prescription, especially against or without the advice of a healthcare provider
- Becoming unreasonable, angry or irritable when access to medication is limited
- Taking the drug for purposes other than treating intended symptoms (e.g., to relax after a long day or to feel more energetic at social gatherings)