Who Is at Risk for Prescription Drug Addiction?

There are a number of different paths that end in addiction, and prescription drug abuse of any kind is certainly one of those paths. It can come in many forms and develop from a number of different beginnings.

Those who are at the highest risk for the development of prescription drug dependence include:

  • Long-term users of prescription painkillers
  • Those who use any addictive prescription drug non-medically
  • Those who combine prescription sedatives, painkillers, or stimulants with other drugs of abuse, including alcohol
  • Those who abuse their prescriptions

Essentially, those who use high doses of prescription drugs with or without a prescription or abuse them in any way are at risk for succumbing to overdose, a medical emergency that can result in:

  • Brain damage
  • Coma
  • Death

Learn how to avoid the risk of prescription overdose when you contact us at Alta Mira today.

Legitimate Users of Prescription Drugs


Sedatives prescribed for anxiety, painkillers prescribed to address chronic pain, stimulant medications for ADHD, seizures, and other issues – there are a myriad of reasons why someone may walk out of a doctor’s office with a script in hand. Even though the drugs were given for a legitimate purpose and designed to decrease medical problems, they can cause a host of issues of their own.

Depending upon the type of medication, the effects can be different, but use of any of them that is long-term and in increasingly higher doses can mean addiction. It’s important to note that addiction is not defined by physical dependence alone. Almost everyone who takes any narcotic or sedative will build up a tolerance and require larger and larger doses in order to feel the same effects. This can mean a physical dependence. But unless this is coupled with a psychological dependence – characterized by cravings – as well, it is a disorder that can be treated by simply lowering the dose until the patient is no longer taking it.

When psychological and physical dependence co-exist, however, drug rehab is necessary in order to truly break free.

Abuse of Prescription Medications


There are a number of ways that someone can abuse a prescription medication. This includes:

  • Taking any prescription medication for any purpose and in any amount with a prescription from a doctor
  • Abusing the pills prescribed either by taking too many, taking them too often, or crushing them before swallowing them or snorting them
  • Taking pills in combination with any other mind-altering substance, including alcohol
  • Getting more pills than prescribed either by lying and saying that pills were lost and requesting an emergency prescription, or “doctor shopping” and seeking multiple prescriptions for similar medications from more than one doctor

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Synergistic Effect of Combining Drugs


When someone combines the use prescription drugs with another substance, the result is a synergistic effect. This means that it’s more than a 1 + 1 effect. Instead, it adds up to a 1 + 1 = 10 effect. The combination of the two substances works to be far more overwhelming to the system then the sum of the two drugs, and in addition to being a trigger for overdose, it can lead to a dual dependency upon prescription drugs and the other substance of choice.

If someone you love is living with a prescription drug dependence issue, you can assist them. Call now to learn more about your options in treatment.