Prescription drug addiction can have a huge impact on someone’s health, relationships, finances and career. Also called prescription drug misuse or abuse, this type of addiction is when someone uses prescription drugs in a way that wasn’t intended by a doctor or prescriber. This includes using a friend’s prescription or even lying about symptoms in order to get a prescription. The most common types of prescription drugs that are abused include painkillers, opioids, sedatives and anti-anxiety medication.

It can affect people of all ages – whether or not they have suffered with addiction previously or not. Early intervention can help someone to get their life back on track though. Here, we highlight some of the most common signs of a prescription drug addiction as well as what you can do if you’re worried about yourself or a loved one.


Physical Changes

Similar to other drug and alcohol addictions, prescription drug addiction can result in a number of physical changes. As the individual begins to prioritise their drug use, it’s common for weight loss to occur. You may also notice that the individual isn’t taking pride in their appearance anymore or that they seem paler.

This isn’t the only way that prescription drug addiction can take its toll on the body though. Other physical changes include:

  • Stomach concerns such as constipation
  • Sickness and nausea
  • Pain
  • Breathing issues
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty walking

It can also result in a number of memory issues including confusion and poor concentration. Those who are addicted to prescription drugs may also suffer from sleeping issues.


Relationship Problems

When someone is addicted to either drugs or alcohol, it’s common for their relationships with friends and family members to suffer. This is because addiction can result in someone prioritising their substance use, isolating themselves from people who don’t engage in that behaviour. What’s more, addiction can cloud judgement. Typically, when friends and family do reach out to help, addicts can’t see the support being offered to them. Instead, they often view it as their friends and family ganging up on them and are likely to lash out.

Denial, anger, deceit are all common feelings that an addict may be feeling and these can all impact the relationships that they have with others. What’s more, it’s common for families to give their loved one an ultimatum in the hope that it inspires them to get better. While this can be a successful path to recovery, it doesn’t always strengthen relationships.


Signs of Withdrawal

When a body becomes dependent on drugs or alcohol, withdrawal symptoms and side effects will present when the body doesn’t have any drugs or alcohol left in it. Think of it like the body’s reaction to being without drugs or alcohol. This can be an addiction of prescription drug addiction. Some of the most common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Shaking and sweating
  • Nausea
  • Stomach concerns
  • Muscle ache and cramps
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations and seizures, in severe case

While withdrawal symptoms are completely normal, they can become dangerous and even life-threatening. For this reason, it’s important to seek medical advice if you know someone who is withdrawing or they’re planning to withdraw. A medically-assisted withdrawal process and detox is one of the biggest advantages of attending a rehab centre like Nova Recovery.


Money Issues

As addiction occurs, the body will gradually require a higher and more frequent dose of the drug in order to function. This can result in individuals spending a large amount of money to buy and acquire drugs, or in this instance, a prescription. Unfortunately, those suffering from addiction are also more likely to steal or borrow in order to obtain the substance and support their habit.

Addiction can also impact someone’s career. For example, they could begin to skip days, struggle to keep up with routines or even turn up under the influence and be sanctioned. This can all lead to a loss of earnings and money issues.



Another sign of a prescription drug addiction is blackouts, which is when someone temporarily loses consciousness. As addiction alters the way in which the brain functions, this can have a direct impact on memory too and it’s common for addicts to forget events, have clouded judgement and memory and even be in a state of confusion most of the time.


Get help with Nova Recovery

The above five signs aren’t the only signs of prescription drug addiction. Other signs include forging, stealing or selling prescriptions, seeking prescriptions from more than one doctor and taking higher doses than prescribed. However, admitting or even recognising that you might need help with addiction is often the first hurdle that many addicts have to face. Often, friends and family identify the potential issue, and having that conversation with loved ones is never easy.

That’s why the team at Nova Recovery is always here. Based in Scotland, we run a leading drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre. Our phone line is always open too – call on 01475 303998 – whether you have a question, want to know about our services or just want to know how you can broach difficult conversations with someone you love who is struggling with addiction.

Prescription drug addiction can be scary – for everyone involved – and recovery can feel very daunting. But, with Nova Recovery by your side, you won’t be alone, and recovery is possible. To take the first step, pick up the phone today and speak to one of our friendly team members. Alternatively, you can contact us via our online form.


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John Gillen - Author - Last updated: September 8, 2023

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. His passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases. The journey continues. In recent times, John has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with NAD+ scientists and the very best of the medical professionals in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Hospitals own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists. Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with NAD+ Therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.