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Prescription Drug Addiction Symptoms

A quarter of adults in the United Kingdom are prescribed strong painkillers, sleeping tablets and antidepressants – and half of those have been prescribed for over 12 months. Thousands of adults across the country struggle with addiction caused by what began as legally prescribed medical substance use.

Four key symptoms of prescription drug use

Prescription drug abuse is defined simply as the use of prescribed medicine in a way not intended by the doctor who prescribed it. In many cases, this kind of substance misuse becomes compulsive and sustained, despite the negative consequences to physical and mental wellbeing it can cause. Here are four common symptoms of prescription drug use.

Legal troubles:

Addiction steadily takes over in a person’s life, moving up in their list of overall priorities despite the negative impact it has on life. A person who has become addicted to strong prescription drugs such as opioid painkillers may turn to crime and the purchase of illegal equivalent drugs such as heroin, often leading to issues with police and law enforcement.

Physical deterioration:

As the importance of taking strong prescription drugs increases, it’s common to see a person struggling with addiction to steadily increase in their neglect of themselves. This shows to others in areas such as hygiene and weight; drugs such as prescription opioids and heroin often lead to sudden and significant weight loss.


As a person struggling with prescription drug abuse sees their issues worsen, it’s common for them to withdraw further from life and their social or work obligations. This is a fact of addiction to many drugs. They may quit or be fired from employment and it is common for them to avoid seeing friends and loved ones.

If you recognise any of these symptoms it may be time to get help. The experts at Help Me Stop are ready to speak with you today.

Mental deterioration:

Although some substances incur stronger mental reactions than others, such as cocaine significantly affecting dopamine production in the brain during use and in withdrawal, it’s common in any kind of addiction for the deterioration of mental wellbeing to occur. This may show a person becoming despondent and seemingly unconcerned with their wellbeing and surroundings or, conversely, could appear as an increase in aggression and irritability.

Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the dangers and consequences of prescription drug abuse?

Prescription drug abuse is an insidious threat because it is couched in the legal use of substances. Entirely responsible adults can unknowingly fall into addiction and compulsive drug abuse through their prescribed drugs, where they would never do so with an illegal substance outright.

Addiction has many costs and consequences. In the main, an individual who is abusing prescription drugs will harm themselves and, through their actions, those around them. This can be through strained relationships, theft and violence.

How can families recognise prescription drug use?

Addiction and drug abuse have no single picture with which to identify it, but it is usually the case that significant shifts in behaviour are seen. The symptoms described above are all common indicators that a person may be struggling with prescription drug abuse. 

How can you help someone addicted to a prescription drug?

If you or a loved one are struggling with prescription addiction we can help. You can call the Help Me Stop Team free today to discuss our treatment options.