What are the Effects of Prescription Drugs

Prescription drug abuse is a common form of drug addiction that includes taking prescribed medications in ways that were not originally intended by your doctor. The effects of prescription drugs can be dangerous to your health and cause long-term damage as a result of drug addiction.

Abusing prescription drugs can look like taking a higher dosage of the drug than what was prescribed, using drugs that were intended for someone else, or taking the drug for other reasons than why it was provided by the prescribing physician in the first place.

What are the Symptoms and Side Effects of Prescription Drug Use?

Signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse will depend on the drugs being used. 

Anti-Anxiety Medications

  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty walking
  • Memory issues
  • Among others


  • Nausea
  • Poor coordination
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Lowered breathing rate
  • Increased sensitivity to pain
  • And others


  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Lack of appetite
  • High blood pressure
  • Change in mood
  • Increased alertness
  • And many others

In addition to the above side effects, individuals might also experience difficulty sleeping, visit doctors frequently (for more medication), and experience severe changes in their mood.

Causes of Prescription Drug Addiction

There are many potential causes of prescription drug abuse. One primary reason is that prescription drugs can be very powerful. While this might make them extremely effective at treating chronic or severe pain, sleep disorders, and mental health conditions, it also means it can be easy to develop an addiction in a short amount of time. 

A second cause of prescription drug addiction is these drugs are often prescribed for a reason, whether it’s to help reduce pain, lower anxiety levels or help someone sleep. This can make it difficult for a person to only use the drug for a short time frame. The longer someone uses prescription drugs, the greater the chance of becoming addicted. 

Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

The most commonly abused drugs that are prescribed include:


Opioids, such as fentanyl and oxycodone, are some of the most commonly prescribed drugs in the country. They are often used to treat severe or chronic pain. Their side effects can include difficulty with sleep, slowed breathing and heart rate, chronic constipation, and risk of bone fractures. 


Benzodiazepines can include drugs such as Xanax and Valium. The purpose of them is to help reduce anxiety, as well as to help people sleep, but their long-term effects can include depression, delirium, sexual dysfunction, and severe cognitive issues. 


Stimulants such as Adderall are prescribed to help people focus. However, long-term use can cause heart issues and mental health problems.


While barbiturates are often prescribed to treat epilepsy and anxiety, their long-term side effects include memory loss, sexual dysfunction, and issues with reflexes. 

The potential side effects of taking the above types of drugs are only a few of the risks associated with them, especially after several weeks or for several months or longer. 

Who is at Risk Of Developing a Prescription Drug Addiction?

Anyone can become addicted to prescription medications, especially due to the fact that many of these drugs are extremely powerful. With some prescription drugs, individuals can potentially become addicted after just 2 weeks of use. 

People who are prescribed medicine (including prescription painkillers) or who have mental health disorders could be at a higher risk of developing an addiction.

Get Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction & Prescription Drug Misuse

overcome their addiction to drugs, including illegal drugs, prescription drugs, and alcohol. Our treatments include medical detox and inpatient rehab.

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug addiction, we are here to help. 

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