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Signs a Person is Addicted to Prescription Drugs

Prescription drug abuse and addiction have reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. Some people are under the impression that prescription drugs are safe because they are legal and prescribed as a medical treatment by doctors. When a patient begins to abuse their prescription medication, they run the risk of becoming addicted to the drug. If you are concerned that a loved one may be addicted to their prescription medication, they will begin to express or exhibit signs and symptoms that can help you determine their health status. An addict’s appearance and behavior may not always be conclusive evidence that he is addicted to prescription medications, but most often that is the case. Here are some of the signs a person is addicted to prescription drugs:

3 Minute Read | Published Sep 26 2023 | Updated Mar 07 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Edwin Gomez
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Edwin Gomez
Reviewed by

Learn the physical signs of pill addiction and how rehab centers can help


We should realize that prescription drugs alter the brain both physically and psychologically, which in turn may affect behavior. Prescription medications can interfere with the brain’s chemistry and neurotransmission capability to send signals from the brain to the rest of the body. This can cause a variety of symptoms. Coordination can be affected and the addict may have slurred speech, difficulty performing tasks, walking, and he may exhibit an uneasy gait. He may stumble, fall and have accidents more often than what is considered normal. This may be difficult to determine in the elderly, because we assume it is a sign of old age, but many seniors are over-medicated and addicted to their medications. Whatever age the person is who is exhibiting these traits doesn’t matter, it can still be one of the signs a person is addicted to prescription drugs.


Other physical signs of pill addiction can include an increase in energy and mental alertness. The addict may become hyperactive, lose their appetite and have difficulty sleeping. Excessive weight loss and insomnia can become dangerous prescription drug addiction symptoms and effects, because the addict may eventually exhibit any of the following signs: extreme mood swings, paranoia, anxiety, hallucinations, aggressive and hostile behavior, and suicidal ideation. These are dangerous signs a person is addicted to prescription drugs, and they can be a danger to others and themselves. Some prescription drugs are sedatives that can cause extreme sedation, respiratory depression and cessation of breathing, unconsciousness, coma and death.


Some prescription drug addiction symptoms and effects are more obvious than others. The addict may begin withdrawing from family and friends, and stop engaging in activities he may have once enjoyed. Many addicts like to spend their time getting high, and they prefer to do it in secret, or with other addicts. If your loved one is spending less time with you and your family than he once did, there is a reason why.

Doctor Shopping

Another of the signs a person is addicted to prescription drugs is doctor shopping, in an attempt to get more prescriptions for their drugs.


Another physical sign of pill addiction is the addict’s appearance. He may appear to be unkempt and dirty. Many addicts do not bathe and you may notice unusual smells that may be caused by the medication.

Risky Behavior

Prescription drug addiction symptoms and effects can also include risky behavior. They may drive or operate machinery while under the influence of their medication, and also engage in unsafe sex. They may feel invincible and do things that can harm them or others, or cause accidents. They may also have unexplained injuries and bruises.

There are many signs a person is addicted to prescription drugs, you just have to be aware of them to know that something is amiss. You can try to confront your loved one about what you are observing, but they may become hostile because many addictions cause a person to become overly sensitive. If this happens, you can try to have an intervention with a professional interventionist, and hopefully your loved one will get the help he needs.


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