Prescription drug addiction is not as rare as you may think; in fact, prescription medications are some of the most commonly abused drugs. There are three categories of prescription drugs, all of which can be addicting: opiates, depressants, and stimulants. Opiates are used to relieve pain. In the United States, some of the more common prescription drugs that are opiates include OxyContin, Vicodin, and Dilaudid. They are usually not considered habit-forming or addicting; however, an addiction to these prescription drugs can develop when used improperly. Because opiates slow down your breathing and heart rate, they can cause death if abused or misused.
Another type of prescription drug that can be addictive is depressants, such as Valium and Xanax. Depressants in particular are very addicting. Many people who use them rely on the drugs to achieve a feeling of normalcy; therefore, when the addict stops taking the drug, s/he can experience intense withdrawal symptoms that cause the user to continue the cycle of abuse. People who are addicted to depressants may show signs of confusion, and their personality may change dramatically.
The last category of prescription drugs is stimulants. Stimulants are normally used to help weight loss, sleeping disorders, and children with ADHD. Dexedrine, Ritalin, and Adderall are some of the more common stimulant drugs that can become addicting. Many people become addicted to stimulant prescriptions because they use them with things such as alcohol or other drugs to augment the effects.
Signs of addiction with any prescription drug are relatively similar: the addict tends to increase his or her usage or dosage of the drug; his or her behavior and appearance changes; he or she has a tendency to want to be alone and secluded from other people; he or she may want to continue using the prescription drug even after the drug is no longer medically necessary; he or she neglects responsibilities and experiences blackouts and bouts of forgetfulness; and the addict may become more sensitive to light and sound. If a person does have a prescription drug addiction and is demonstrating some or all of these addiction signs, there is help. In order to avoid possible addictions to these types of drugs, you can request an alternative form of medical treatment. Also, if you do take prescription medications, it is important to follow the course of treatment specified by a licensed medical professional and only take the drugs for the required length of time.