Prescription drug addiction is a growing problem in the United States and across the globe. In the U.S., the last decade has seen an increase in prescription drug use, particularly opioid use. What may start as a prescription medication for pain following an injury can quickly develop into an addiction. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health noted that in 2017 alone, about 18 million Americans had misused a prescription medication at least once.

The rising numbers in prescription drug use have caused significant concern. From depressants to stimulants to opioids, prescription drug misuse is truly an epidemic, and the United States has become the hotspot for prescription drug abuse.

After alcohol and marijuana, prescription drugs are the third most abused substances in the world. As more and more Americans die from drug overdoses, the need to address prescription drug addiction early on has become increasingly significant. Opioids have made the biggest impact, as OxyContin and hydrocodone have been linked to more overdose deaths than any other prescription drug.

Because of the number of people with a prescription drug use disorder, addiction recovery treatment centers have seen an increase in people seeking help for prescription drug use disorders.

Your path to recovery is waiting
and we’re here to help.

Our admissions specialist are available 24/7 to listen to your story
and get you started with next steps.

Why call us?

Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Painkiller overdoses have seen a massive increase in the last couple of decades. With accessibility at an all-time high, it is easy for people to obtain these prescription drugs. It is estimated that every month 6.1 million Americans misuse prescription drugs. The reality is that most people begin using prescription medications legitimately for medical conditions including mental health and chronic pain.

The most commonly abused prescription drugs are:

  1. Opioids
  2. Stimulants
  3. Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants

The popularity of these medications gives addicts the opportunity to easily purchase them, legally or not. Each of these prescription drugs are used to treat a variety of physical and mental issues.


Opioids are prescribed to treat pain such as temporary (followng a surgery) or chronic, which is recurring pain. These drugs are the most powerful of all painkillers and have a high likelihood for addiction. Since opioids tend to be expensive, a person who is addicted may transition to using heroin, because it is cheaper and more available.

The most commonly abused opioids include:

  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydromorphone
  • Methadone
  • Meperidine
  • Oxycodone

Opioids can be injected, snorted, or swallowed and can come in a variety of forms such as pill, powder, or liquid.


Stimulants are typically prescribed to treat things like focusing issues or to assist in weight control. They make the user feel increased energy, stimulation, and a feeling of euphoria. In many cases, a prescription stimulant is a gateway to illicit stimulants such as crystal meth, crack, or cocaine.

The most commonly abused stimulants include:

  • Amphetamine
  • Dextroamphetamine
  • Methylphenidate

Thes are typically Adderall, Dexedrine, and Ritalin and come in pill form. Someone who is misuing one of these medications may start snorting the drug for a more intense high.

Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants

From anxiety to depression to sleep disorders, CNS depressants are abused at alarming rates. These medications slow down the brain and produce a euphoric or even numb feeling.

The most commonly abused CNS depressants include:

  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Sleeping Medications

Many patients are prescribed these medications to treat mental health issues and then misuse them.

Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of prescription drug misuse is important for an individual to get help. Signs of abuse vary depending upon the type of drug misused as well as the individual who is misusing them. When a person develops a dependence on prescription medications, their tolerance builds and they need to take more and more of the substance to feel the same effects.

The following are some of the general signs of prescription drug addiction:

  • Increased or irregular energy
  • Mood swings
  • Taking higher dosages than recommended by the doctor
  • “Losing” prescriptions over and over again and requesting more
  • Changing doctors frequently
  • Stealing prescriptions
  • Falsifying prescriptions
  • Making poor decisions
  • Acting lethargic
  • Sleep schedule changes

The following are the most common signs of opioid abuse:

  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Euphoria
  • Nausea
  • Poor coordination
  • Slowed breathing

The following are the most common signs of stimulant abuse:

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Paranoia
  • Reduced appetite

The following are the most common signs of depressant abuse:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Inability to focus
  • Issues with memory
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slurred speech

Prescription drugs are incredibly useful in treating pain, disease, and a wide variety of other issues. Substance use disorder is also a real disease which impacts countless lives. Recognizing and addressing the above signs and symptoms early on is critical to someone recieve medically suprtvised prescription drug addiction treatment.

Prescription Drug Addiction Rehab

The risks associated with prescription drug addiction are numerous. From poor health to possible overdose and death, misusing medications has a life-changing impact on many perople. The good news is that recovery is possible for anyone and the first step is to talk to someone about addiction recovery treatment options.

Starting with medical detox at Cardinal Recovery, an idividual will benefit from being in the care of addiction professionals. Prescription drug addiction rehab includes evidence-based treatment, including counseling, group therapy, support groups, and art therapy. As part of the continuum of care, aftercare services so out alumni can continue their recovery journey following the completion of rehab.

Are you or a loved one struggling with a prescription drug addiction? You are not alone. We are here for you and we are here to help.