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15 Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription medications can help people manage the symptoms of a wide range of medical conditions when used under medical supervision. However, many people take prescription medications differently than prescribed or recreationally–meaning without a prescription or medical need. 

Many prescription medications have the potential for misuse and addiction. People who take prescription medications recreationally may develop tolerance and dependence, leading to an addiction that requires professional treatment. Even those who start out taking prescription drugs as prescribed may develop dependence.

Recognizing the signs of prescription drug addiction can help you seek treatment to overcome the condition and move forward into a healthier future.

This article will outline 15 of the most common signs of prescription drug addiction. Contact the Mandala Healing Center specialists to learn about our holistic addiction treatment programs or find other forms of support during recovery. 

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

There are many types of prescription drugs available to treat many medical and mental health conditions. However, three types of medications have the greatest potential for misuse and addiction.


Benzodiazepine drugs–also called benzos–are drugs that slow activity in the central nervous system (CNS). People take them to reduce symptoms of anxiety and to treat panic disorders. 


Opioid drugs relieve moderate to severe pain. They also cause relaxation, euphoria, and drowsiness, prompting some people to misuse these drugs. 


Stimulants are used to treat narcolepsy, ADHD, and other attention disorders. Some people misuse stimulants for their effects, which can include increased alertness, more energy, and better focus.

Whether someone takes these drugs under medical supervision or misuses them recreationally, it’s important to be aware of the signs of prescription drug addiction and seek treatment as soon as possible. 

15 Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug misuse and addiction can cause significant changes in a person’s mood, appearance, thoughts, and behaviors. Here are 15 of the most common signs of prescription drug addiction.

1. Drowsiness

Many prescription drugs cause drowsiness. People who misuse certain prescription drugs can cause a noticeable change in energy levels. They may seem sleepy or “nod off,” meaning they slip in and out of consciousness. 

2. Slurred speech

Some prescription drugs slow CNS activity, causing people to slur their speech or speak slowly.

3. Loss of coordination

People who misuse prescription drugs may appear uncoordinated or clumsy. They may fall down or have trouble performing simple, everyday tasks.

4. Pupil changes

Some medications can affect the way a person’s pupils appear. Pupils may look smaller (constricted) or larger (dilated). 

5. Changes in appetite

People who misuse prescription drugs may have frequent periods of nausea and vomiting or experience a dramatic reduction in their appetite. As a result, sudden or dramatic weight loss is one of the signs of prescription drug addiction.

6. Mood swings

Prescription drug addiction can cause significant changes in a person’s mood. People who were once stable and steady may suddenly have dramatic mood swings or other emotional changes. 

7. Agitation

The side effects of some prescription drugs can cause agitation or even aggression in some users. People may appear restless and irritable or have erratic or violent behaviors.

8. Depression and anxiety

Prescription drug abuse can cause new or worsening mental health conditions. People who misuse prescription drugs may develop symptoms of anxiety or depression or exhibit new symptoms of an existing mental illness.

9. Disorientation

People who misuse prescription drugs may appear confused or disoriented. They may have difficulty understanding what is happening around them or following simple instructions.

10. Loss of interest

One of the most significant signs of prescription drug addiction is losing interest in their hobbies, relationships, and responsibilities. When someone lives with addiction, they become focused solely on getting and using drugs. People may exhibit low motivation or lack the energy to do anything other than use drugs. 

11. Doctor-shopping

Doctor shopping means having more than one prescription for a medication from multiple doctors–and it’s one of the primary signs of prescription drug addiction.

12. Using others’ medications

People with prescription drug addiction may take other people’s medications. They may convince a friend or relative to share their prescription drugs.

13. Stealing prescription drugs

Prescription drug addiction can make people act in ways they usually wouldn’t. People may steal prescription medications from friends and family or take them from others when the opportunity arises. 

14. Buying prescription drugs illegally

People who are addicted to prescription drugs may turn to the streets for their fix. Buying prescription medications illegally puts people at increased risk of taking counterfeit drugs, which may result in complications, overdose, or death.

15. Taking risks 

People who misuse prescription drugs may engage in dangerous behaviors when using them. They may drive under the influence, have risky sex, participate in illegal activities, or put themselves and others at risk with other hazardous behaviors. 

Prescription drug addiction has many health, legal, and social risks. If you or someone you love exhibits signs of prescription drug addiction, seek treatment immediately.

Get Help Now

If you struggle with prescription drug misuse or addiction, you are not alone. Reach out to the specialists at the Mandala Healing Center to learn about our supportive, holistic prescription drug addiction treatment programs or for guidance at any stage of your recovery journey.