Common Signs & Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

Get in front of an prescription painkiller addiction by learning the signs and symptoms. Read what causes prescription painkiller addiction, what signs to look out for, and potential long-term effects. Understanding your symptoms is the first step to successful healing.

Understanding Prescription Painkillers

Learn about prescription painkillers and substance abuse

Education is an essential tool in the fight to overcome prescription painkiller addiction. The more you understand about the signs, symptoms, and effects of prescription drug abuse, the better prepared you will be to get help for yourself or a loved one. 

Prescription painkiller abuse is a widespread problem that has touched nearly every community in the United States. And while new regulations have been enacted to address this issue, thousands of individuals and families continue to suffer from the effects of this epidemic.  


Prescription pain medications like Vicodin, morphine, and OxyContin can be safely consumed under a doctor’s supervision for short-term periods during the healing process. But because they can create a tranquilizing high when abused, they have unfortunately become popular substances of abuse.  

Over time, abusing these medications can result in damages to your mental, physical, and emotional health that can be difficult to overcome without professional help. But fortunately, there are more options for quality prescription painkiller treatment programs than ever before. With support from Conway Behavioral Health Hospital’s comprehensive treatment program, you can overcome your prescription painkiller addiction and reclaim control of your life.  


Prescription painkiller addiction statistics 

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has reported the following statistics about prescription painkiller addiction in the United States: 

Causes & Risks

Causes and risk factors for prescription painkiller addiction  

Your risk for addiction can be influenced by a variety of internal and external factors, including the following: 

  • Family history of substance abuse, addiction, or mental illness 
  • Having a novelty-seeking or impulsive personality 
  • Living in poverty 
  • Early exposure to substance abuse 
  • Experiencing excessive stress or pressure 
  • Having a parent or sibling who struggles with prescription painkiller addiction 
  • Personal history of mental illness 
  • Prior substance abuse 
  • Personal history of abuse, neglect, or other form of trauma 
  • Associating with peers who engage in prescription painkiller abuse 



Signs and symptoms of prescription painkiller addiction 

A person who is struggling with prescription painkiller addiction may experience a wide range of signs and symptoms, including the following: 

Behavioral symptoms: 

  • Going to multiple doctors to obtain multiple prescriptions 
  • Altered ability to perform occupationally 
  • Withdrawal from friends and family 
  • Lying 
  • Frequent absences from work 
  • No longer participating in activities that they once found enjoyable 
  • Stealing or borrowing money 

Physical symptoms: 

  • Decline in personal hygiene 
  • Impaired coordination 
  • Changes in sleeping patterns 
  • Changes in eating habits 
  • Bloodshot eyes 
  • Tremors/shakes  

Mental symptoms: 

  • Declined ability to use sound decision-making skills 
  • Confusion 
  • Disorientation 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Loss of sound judgment 
  • Altered perceptions of reality 
  • Declined reasoning capabilities 


Effects of prescription painkiller addiction and substance abuse

Failing to get effective prescription painkiller addiction treatment can put you at risk for a wide range of negative outcomes, including the following: 

  • Fractured relationships 
  • Onset or worsening of symptoms of other mental health conditions 
  • Decline in overall physical health 
  • Memory disturbances 
  • Cognitive impairment 
  • Declined ability to perform well at work, potentially resulting in job loss 
  • Chronic unemployment 

While these damages can have a serious impact on your life, you can overcome them with the right support. By entering treatment, you can heal from the past and avoid further damages to your well-being. 

Co-Occurring Disorders

Prescription painkiller addiction and co-occurring disorders

People who struggle with prescription painkiller addiction may also have an increased risk of developing the following mental health disorders: 

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder 
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • Borderline personality disorder 
  • Other substance use disorders 
  • Depressive disorders 

Withdrawal & Overdose

Effects of prescription painkiller withdrawal and overdose

Effects of withdrawal: Depending upon the type of prescription painkiller you have been using, trying to stop once you’ve become addicted can trigger several distressing symptoms. Known as withdrawal, this experience may include the following symptoms: 

  • Hallucinations 
  • Confusion 
  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Nausea 
  • Restlessness 
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety 
  • Feelings of agitation and irritability 
  • Abdominal cramping 
  • Profuse sweating 
  • Tremors 

Effects of overdose: Anyone who demonstrates the following signs after using a prescription painkiller may have overdosed and should seek immediate medical attention: 

  • Changes in skin tone 
  • Severe breathing difficulties 
  • Dilated pupils 
  • Losing the ability to communicate 
  • Disorientation to person, time, place, and/or situation 
  • Seizures 
  • Falling into a coma 
  • Decreased heart rate 
  • Clammy skin 
  • Severe dizziness