Prescription drug addiction is a growing epidemic that affects millions of people worldwide. It’s a problem that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or social status. Misusing prescription drugs can lead to many adverse outcomes, encompassing both physical and psychological health challenges, monetary strains, and strained relationships. Despite the dangers, many people abuse prescription drugs, often without realizing the risks involved.

What Is Prescription Drug Addiction?

Prescription drug dependency is a serious issue that affects countless individuals worldwide. It occurs when someone takes a prescription medication for non-medical purposes or exceeds the recommended dosage. This can happen when someone takes medication that wasn’t prescribed to them or increases their dosage without consulting a doctor. The repercussions of prescription drug addiction can be devastating, ranging from overdose and addiction to death.

How Common is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Prescription drug abuse is a serious issue causing concern in recent years. The statistics are alarming and paint a bleak picture of its prevalence. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), in 2021, around 14.3 million people (5.1% of those aged 12 and older) reported misusing prescription drugs in 2020. That’s a lot of people!

Opioids are a significant contributor to this epidemic, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly 450,000 people died from an overdose involving any opioid, including prescription, between 1999 and 2018. This is a severe problem that needs to be addressed urgently.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Commonly abused prescription drugs represent diverse medications designed for legitimate therapeutic purposes but are frequently misused, leading to potential health risks. The following are among the most commonly abused:

Medications like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl are often prescribed for pain management. Their capacity to produce euphoria makes them a target for misuse and abuse.

These include benzodiazepines such as Valium, Xanax, and Ativan. Intended to treat conditions like anxiety or insomnia, they can be misused for their sedative effects.

Drugs like amphetamines and methylphenidate, used to treat ADHD and certain sleep disorders, can be abused for their energizing effects and the perception of cognitive enhancement.

Misusing any of these medications diminishes their therapeutic benefits and exposes individuals to a heightened risk of addiction, adverse side effects, and other health complications.

Risks of Prescription Drug Abuse

The misuse of prescription drugs, while all too common, brings myriad severe and often life-altering risks. Here are some of the risks associated with prescription drug abuse:

Physical Dependence

Regular misuse can make the body reliant on these drugs, resulting in withdrawal symptoms when trying to cease or reduce consumption.


Excessive or combined intake of certain medications can lead to a toxic accumulation with potentially fatal outcomes.

Mental Health Impact

Beyond the physical implications, the abuse of prescription drugs can exacerbate or even instigate mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or psychosis.

Organ Damage

Chronic misuse can inflict long-term damage on vital organs, with the liver, kidneys, and heart being particularly susceptible.

Always ensure that prescription medications are taken only as directed by a physician. If you or a loved one grapples with prescription drug misuse, it’s crucial to get assistance promptly.

Signs of Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is a severe issue that affects millions of people worldwide. It’s essential to be aware of the signs of prescription drug abuse to help yourself or someone you know who may be struggling with addiction. Here are some common signs to look out for:

  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Slurred speech
  • Dilated pupils
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Shallow breathing
  • Constricted pupils
  • Poor coordination
  • Doctor shopping
  • Stealing or borrowing medication
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Changes in social activities
  • Mood swings
  • Secretive behavior
  • Financial problems

If you or someone you know is exhibiting any of these signs, seeking help is essential. Misuse of prescription medications can result in severe health complications and can even be fatal. Don’t wait until it’s too late to get the help you need.

The Connection Between Prescription Drug Abuse and Mental Health Disorders

Prescription drug abuse and mental health disorders frequently intersect, revealing a complex relationship that often intensifies individuals’ challenges. Numerous individuals battling mental health disorders, like depression, anxiety, or PTSD, may turn to prescription medications as a means to cope, self-medicate, or alleviate their symptoms. Conversely, misuse of such drugs can trigger or exacerbate pre-existing mental health issues. This intertwined relationship between substance misuse and mental disorders is encapsulated by the term “Dual Diagnosis.”

A dual diagnosis indicates that an individual is concurrently battling a substance abuse issue and a mental health disorder. Recognizing and addressing both conditions simultaneously is crucial, as treating one without the other often leads to incomplete recovery and heightens the risk of relapse.

Treatment for Prescription Drug Abuse

Dual Diagnosis CTA

At Burning Tree Programs, we take a thorough approach to treating prescription drug abuse. We understand that substance misuse is often intertwined with mental health disorders, and we’re committed to addressing both issues simultaneously. Our dual diagnosis treatment program is one of our standout offerings.

We recognize that addiction rarely exists in a vacuum. Additional mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, or bipolar disorder, often accompany it. Our dual diagnosis program is the ultimate solution for those who are struggling with addiction and underlying mental health conditions. We believe that true healing can only be achieved by addressing both issues simultaneously.

At Burning Tree Programs, we’re not just interested in providing temporary relief. We’re committed to helping our clients achieve lasting transformation. So if you’re struggling with prescription drug abuse and co-existing mental health challenges, we’re here to help.