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Prescription Drugs

Legal medications can still be misused

Prescription Drug Addiction

One of the more surprising revelations during the recent opioid crisis is how people of all ages, backgrounds, and locales (city, suburbs, country, didn’t seem to matter) became addicted in the first place. In many cases, the struggle began in the medicine cabinet with doctor-issued prescriptions for legitimate injuries. The last thing most of them were probably concerned about was getting addicted.

Man taking prescription pills

What Is Prescription Drug Abuse?

Prescription drugs have the illusion of safety. If a doctor writes a prescription, it must be okay, right? Even if someone pops an extra pill for that euphoric absence of pain or borrows a few from a friend, some people believe that’s much safer than, say, using harder drugs like heroin or cocaine.

The truth about prescription drugs is this: Taking too many — or in a way the doctor didn’t intend — is never safe, and additionally, they can be a stepping-stone to much harder drug use. Once a prescription’s refills have run out, many people opt for something more powerful that’s cheaper and easier to procure, not to mention even more dangerous.

The truth about prescription drugs is this: Taking too many — or in a way the doctor didn’t intend — is never safe, and additionally, they can be a stepping-stone to much harder drug use.

Negative Effects of Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs may look innocent enough, but the ways they can go very wrong for someone are plentiful. Prescription opioids are depressants, which relieve pain and flood the brain with dopamine. As a result, they provide a sense of euphoria, drowsiness, and slowed breathing and heart rate. On the flip side, they can also cause confusion, dizziness, and low blood pressure. Excessive amounts, not to mention long-term use, something that’s never recommended by doctors, puts users at risk of cardiac arrest or severely depressed respiration.

Withdrawal from prescription drugs is also difficult and unpleasant, which is why many people with the best of intentions struggle. Symptoms include anxiety, cold flashes, diarrhea, fever, muscle pain, and nausea.

Prescription drug abuse

Prescription Drugs by the Numbers

  • Every day, 46 people die from a prescription opioid overdose.
  • Synthetic opioids — excluding methadone — were responsible for more than 28,000 deaths in 2017.
  • In 2017, more than 11 million people 12 years or older reported misusing prescription pain relievers, compared to less than a million who used heroin.
  • The National Survey on Drug Use and Health states that in 2017, 2.3% of the US population misused prescription hydrocodone drugs, which includes Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, Zohydro ER, and generic hydrocodone.
  • Over 2 million people misused oxycodone products such as OxyContin in 2017.
  • It’s estimated that 80% of individuals who use heroin began by abusing prescription opioids.
  • According to, more than 130 people die from opioid-related drug overdoses each day.

Signs of Prescription Medication Abuse

  • Distinct changes in someone’s personality that often correspond to the availability of their drug(s) of choice. They may be more tired, irritable, or more distant as well
  • Unsteady movement, mood swings, change in sleep patterns, poor judgment or memory (or both), and loss of interest in hygiene or personal care
  • Stealing prescriptions from friends, family, or co-workers
  • Seeking out multiple doctors for similar conditions in hopes of securing more prescriptions
  • More frequent alcohol consumption
  • Depression

Reach Out For Help

If you or someone you love is struggling with prescription drug addiction, we’re here for you. Instead of a quick fix, our compassionate team of experts at The Meadows is waiting to help you begin your journey toward long-term recovery. We do this by focusing on the whole person, addressing any underlying mental health conditions or trauma that may be perpetuating prescription drug abuse.

Schedule a Call


Our Admissions team is here to help 24 hours a day and is experienced in assisting others with compassion, dignity, and respect — hallmark values of The Meadows for more than 45 years. The Meadows’ Admissions Specialists are here to help you on your way to a healthier and more productive lifestyle. When you call, they will lead you through a series of questions to determine if The Meadows is a good fit, and how soon your treatment can begin. If you are interested in The Meadows for yourself or a loved one, call or fill out an admissions form today!

If you are interested in The Meadows for yourself or a loved one call or fill out an admissions form today!

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