Addiction

5 Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

HealthCentral Editorial Staff Mar 30th, 2012 (updated Feb 4th, 2015)
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Use or abuse?
Use or abuse?

Recent studies have found that prescription drugs are now the second most commonly abused type of drug in the United States. Experts say the overprescribing of narcotic painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants--along with the rise of online pharmacies--is contributing to this abuse epidemic. But how can you tell if your prescription drug use is becoming an addiction? Here are 5 signs that you may be moving from prescription medication use to drug abuse.

 

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You need more medication to get the same effect
You need more medication to get the same effect

When you find you need to take more of a medication to achieve the same level of sleep, pain relief, or alertness, you have developed what experts say is a tolerance to the drug you're taking. Tolerance is a sign that your body is becoming physically dependent on the medication. Though it does not mean you're addicted to a prescription drug, it can be a warning sign that you are taking too much of it.

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You experience withdrawal symptoms
You experience withdrawal symptoms

Once your body has become physically dependent on a medication, you will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking the drug. Once people begin to experience these symptoms, they may find they are unable to stop taking a drug without medical supervision. Prescription drug withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, nausea, anxiety, depression, sweating, and shaking.

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You plan activities around your drug use
You plan activities around your drug use

Medications are prescribed to help patients get back to their lives, not so they can put their lives on hold for their medication use. If you begin planning activities around the times you take your medications or miss important events because of your prescription drug use, it's a clear warning sign that you may have a problem.

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You use more drugs than you had planned
You use more drugs than you had planned

Taking more of a medication than is prescribed or than you planned to take at one time is a sign that you're losing control of your drug use. Sometimes addiction sufferers will also find that these accidental overuses are causing them problems such as mood swings, relationship problems, blackouts, or paranoia, but they find they keep using--and overusing--the drug anyway.

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You use illegal or questionable methods to get drugs
You use illegal or questionable methods to get drugs

If you find yourself seeking medication from a doctor even when another doctor has advised you not to take it or has refused to provide the drug, it's a sign you may have a problem with addiction. Other signs include asking for prescription meds from friends and relatives, falsifying prescriptions, stealing money, and foraging for medications.