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Prescription Pill Abuse a Growing Problem

Prescription pill abuse is the use of prescription medications in a way other than exactly as prescribed. Using someone else’s prescription medications, taking medicine to get high, or taking larger doses of your own prescribed medications are all instances of prescription pill abuse. According to prescription pill abuse statistics from the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 15 million people over the age of 12 abused prescription medications in the past year, and 6.5 million engaged in prescription drug abuse in the past month. Here’s what you need to know about prescription pill abuse.

3 Minute Read | Published Sep 25 2023 | Updated Mar 06 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Amber Asher
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Amber Asher
Reviewed by

Prescription pill abuse is increasing in the U.S., and it often leads to addiction and dependence.

The Most Commonly Abused Prescription Medications

The three types of prescription pills most commonly abuse are opioid painkillers, benzodiazepines, and prescription stimulants.

Opioid Painkillers

More than two million Americans are addicted to opioid painkillers, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Commonly abused opioids include OxyContin, Vicodin, and Fentanyl.

The opioid epidemic currently claims 115 lives every day in the U.S., driven largely by prescription painkillers. According to prescription pill abuse statistics, the number of opioid-related deaths has more than quadrupled since 1999, and prescription opioid abuse continues to increase each year.


Benzodiazepines are a class of central nervous system sedatives, or depressants, that are prescribed for anxiety and panic disorders. These include drugs like KlonopinXanax, and Valium. Benzodiazepine abuse is dangerous, but it’s particularly so when benzos are taken along with alcohol, which slows respiration and heart rate and can be fatal.


Central nervous system stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin speed up the central nervous system to increase attention and focus in people with ADHD. Many young people believe that these medications improve academic or athletic performance, although prescription pill abuse statistics show that people without ADHD who take these medications without a prescription perform no better than their non-abusing counterparts.

Prescription Pill Abuse Symptoms

Using prescription pills non-medically to get high or taking them in larger doses than prescribed are the most important prescription pill abuse symptoms. Prescription pill abuse can lead to addiction, which requires professional help to overcome.

Prescription pill addiction is characterized by compulsively using prescription pills even though doing so causes problems in your life. Other important signs and symptoms of prescription addiction include:

  • Taking larger doses or using for a longer period of time than you intended.
  • Finding that even if you want or try to quit, you can’t.
  • Experiencing cravings for prescription pills.
  • Neglecting duties at work, home, or school due to prescription pill abuse.
  • Continuing to use prescription pills even though they’re causing problems in your life, including relationship, financial, legal, or medical problems.
  • Losing interest in activities you used to enjoy.

Once an addiction sets in, professional help is almost always needed to end the addiction, which is complex and involves a variety of underlying issues.

Ending Prescription Pill Abuse and Addiction

Whether you’re concerned that your prescription pill abuse will lead to addiction or you’re already addiction, a high quality treatment program can help you end your prescription drug abuse once and for all. A holistic treatment program helps you address a variety of issues that led to the abuse in the first place, and it helps you restore your life after prescription pills have done damage to your relationships, finances, or physical or mental health.

Through a variety of traditional and complementary therapies, individuals in abuse or addiction treatment identify and replace harmful thought and behavior patterns, address complex underlying issues, and develop essential coping skills for handling stress, cravings, and other triggers. Additionally, treatment helps people find purpose and meaning in a life without drugs and helps them learn to have fun and relax without needing prescription medications to do it.

If you’re suffering from prescription pill abuse or addiction, Better Addiction Care can help you find a high quality rehab program to help you recover for the long-haul while improving your life on many fronts. Call us today at (800) 429-7690.


bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020).
"Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse."
Retrieved on May 08, 2018
bullet Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2021).
"Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health."
Retrieved on May 08, 2018
bullet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021).
"Prescription Opioids."
Retrieved on May 08, 2018
bullet American Psychiatric Association. (2013).
"Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing."
Retrieved on May 08, 2018
bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020).
"Misuse of Prescription Drugs."
Retrieved on May 08, 2018
bullet National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020).
"Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition)."
Retrieved on May 08, 2018
bullet American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2021).
"Definition of Addiction."
Retrieved on May 08, 2018
bullet MedlinePlus. (2021).
"Prescription Drug Abuse."
Retrieved on May 08, 2018
bullet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020).
"Understanding the Epidemic: Drug Overdose Deaths Involving Opioids."
Retrieved on May 08, 2018
bullet American Addiction Centers. (2021).
"Prescription Drug Abuse Signs, Symptoms, and Effects."
Retrieved on May 08, 2018

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