What Are Prescription Drugs?

Prescription Drug Risks

Prescription drugs are drugs that require a doctor’s approval to be obtained. All prescription drugs are made by pharmaceutical companies and are only approved for public use after years of extensive testing. However, there are many prescription drug risks related to abuse. 

Many prescription drugs risks are linked to commonly prescribed drugs like Xanax, valium, etc. — all of which have addictive properties. Prescription painkillers, for example, can lead to prescription pill abuse. Keep reading to find out what those risks entail.1

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How Prescription Drugs Are Misused

Prescription pill addiction goes back as far as the drugs themselves. However, there was an increase in abuse beginning in the early 90s due to the opioid crisis. Some prescription drugs can be illegally manufactured, but the most common form of obtaining them involves getting them from doctors or friends with prescriptions.2

It’s not uncommon for someone with prescription drug abuse to visit various clinics in a day to obtain these prescriptions. It’s also not uncommon for someone with a legitimate need for these drugs to turn around and sell them for street value. Another common method is stealing them from close friends and family. Most prescription drugs are produced in pill form, and on the street, these pills can be remanufactured and mixed with any number of other harmful additives.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Dozens of prescription drugs are abused annually. Below are the most common.


Opioids draw their name from opium. They act as painkillers and are typically prescribed following intensive surgery or severe injury. They’re also responsible for the opioid crisis in America. In the early days, the full addictive potential of opioids wasn’t documented. 

This issue led to doctors prescribing large amounts of the drug without giving proper warning to patients. Common brand names include OxyContin, Codeine, and Hydrocodone. Opioids produce a calming, euphoric feeling when ingested.2 

Anti-Anxiety Medications and Sedatives

Anti-anxiety medications and sedatives are typically prescribed to help curb the effects of mental illnesses. Common brand names include Prozac, Lexapro, and Paxil. Anti-anxiety medication induces feelings of euphoria and tiredness.3


Brand name prescription stimulants include Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine. These drugs produce feelings of intense energy and focus when ingested.4

Prescription drug risks are two-fold. On the one hand, the abuser of the drugs is harming their body and lowering their quality of life. But on the other hand, when these drugs are stolen from or sold by people that need them, their initial condition goes untreated, creating future health effects of prescription drug abuse.

Substance abusers don’t always consider prescription drug risks. That said, everyone that gets high on pills and pharmaceuticals does so for a reason. Understanding these reasons is key to preventing future drug abuse and starting the road to recovery.

Causes of Teens and Adults Prescription Drug Addiction

To Relax or Relieve Tension

Stress is a powerful factor in the early stages of all drug and substance abuse. This exact reason is why many executives and high-intensity careers have such high rates of prescription pill abuse.5

To Reduce Appetite or Increase Alertness

Individuals with eating disorders, busy jobs, or those suffering from burnout may turn to prescription drug abuse as a way of improving their overall productivity and skipping lunch to get a report finished or working well over what’s healthy to try and get ahead in their careers. It’s not just limited to those with high-powered jobs, however. Parents or children under extreme pressure to succeed are just as susceptible.5

To Experiment with the Mental Effects of the Substance

Other drug users consider themselves experimenters. They want to try everything once. This factor is also why peer pressure is so effective. Imagine if everyone you know reported feeling great after taking a certain pill. Surely, you might be inclined to try that same pill and find out for yourself. This mentality can lead to chronic drug use.5

To Maintain an Addiction and Prevent Withdrawal

Withdrawal can manifest as an overwhelming craving in a person’s body and mind. All their thoughts revolve around drug use, and their body hurts. To avoid the intense feelings of withdrawal that can last days to weeks, many people prefer to use the drug instead. The further into drug abuse a person gets, the more intense their withdrawal.5

Prescription Drug Addiction and Side Effects of Prescription Drugs

Prescription Drug Addiction and Side Effects of Prescription Drugs
The following are common side effects of prescription drugs. It’s always beneficial to be aware of the symptoms.5
  • Mood swings: Mood swings include irritability, manic depression, and angry outbursts. This occurs because the body is unable to regulate hormone production after and during drug use.5
  • Erratic behavior: This side effect of prescription drugs often occurs with mood swings. Erratic behavior causes a person to behave unpredictably and often illogically.
  • Suicidal tendencies: One of the biggest prescription drug risks is suicidal tendencies. Suicidal tendencies are a severe side effect of prescription drugs brought about by the brain being depleted of mood-stabilizing chemicals.
  • Anxiety: Anxiety can cause a person to experience panic attacks when faced with crowds, everyday tasks, and future events. Severe anxiety as a side of prescription drugs can make a person unable or unwilling to function in day-to-day life.
  • Too much or too little sleep: Brought about from chemical imbalances, getting improper sleep can make a person feel groggy or tired the next day, impacting productivity and quality of life.

Prescription Drug Risks

A few things can lead to the overuse of prescription drugs and prescription pill addiction. Unlike the causes listed above, these factors are less about personal choices and focus on what makes someone at risk for drug use.6

  • Past or present addictions to other substances: There’s a reason that when someone gets sober, they refrain from all drugs and alcohol. If someone had addictive tendencies in the past, those same tendencies are present. Plus, prescription drug risks are increased for a person with addictive tendencies.
  • Family history of overuse of prescription drugs: Genetics play a large role in how easily a person can form dependency. In this way, overuse of prescription drugs can be classified as generational trauma.
  • Certain pre-existing psychiatric conditions: Mental illness makes a person more likely to misuse drugs as a relief for their symptoms. In truth, misuse of drugs worsens the effects of mental illness.
  • Exposure to peer pressure or a social environment where there’s drug use: How a person views drugs and overuse of prescription drugs is typically a reflection of their environment. If a person grows up in an environment where drug misuse is common, they’re more likely to use drugs themselves.
  • Lack of knowledge about prescription drug risks and their potential harm: A lot of people assume that if a doctor gives you a drug, then it’s safe. When taken responsibility, this is often true. But in excess, prescription drug abuse can be deadly.

Creating Change

Prescription drug risks and withdrawal symptoms take millions of lives every year. Raising awareness and educating the public on their options is the only viable option to reduce this detrimental phenomenon. 

The only sustainable solution is recovery. If you or a loved one are experiencing substance abuse, reach out to us. We have medical staff standing by to provide the resources you need to start your sober living.6