Prescription Drug Addiction

In recent years, the UK has seen a considerable rise in prescription drug abuse. For the majority, a prescription drug addiction will start by voluntarily taking prescribed drugs from a doctor, which over an extended period of use, they become dependent.

Prescription drug addiction

A prescription drug dependence can be psychological, physical, or a mix of the two. Like an illicit drug addiction, prescription drugs can cause a physical dependence due to chemical changes in the user’s brain after long-term use. The body adapts to the presence of the drug, which allows it to function normally. As a result, the brain becomes dependent. Those with a prescription drug addiction will either develop an addiction over time from the prescribed use or will abuse prescription drugs to experience the high or euphoric effect, with no use for the medicinal benefits.

Even when a desire exists to stop the use of prescription drugs, users will still experience a mental compulsion to take them.

There are three different classes of prescription drugs that are the most susceptible to abuse:

  • Stimulants – most commonly prescribed for ADHD
  • Opiates – most commonly used to treat chronic or severe pain
  • Tranquilisers or sedatives – often prescribed to treat anxiety or sleep disorders


A prescription drug addiction is progressive and, in severe cases, can be fatal. Once users develop a tolerance, they will need larger amounts of the drug to experience the same high, meaning the risks from the drug are higher. If users cannot legally attain a higher dosage, they will often buy the drug from online pharmacies or other unreputable sources, leaving them unaware of what may be in the drug they’re taking. Yet, after developing a prescription drug addiction, users will often find themselves going to extreme lengths to access more, regardless of the consequences.

Some may attain prescription drugs through a doctor and then use them unnecessarily after their use is no longer needed, or buy them online illegally. One drug in particular that has seen a dramatic increase in illicit purchases or prescriptions is Xanax. Some use the benzodiazepine drug to soothe anxiety and panic disorders, whereas some abuse it for its tranquilising effects. The NHS currently prescribes benzodiazepines, and their intended use is only short-term. People who take them for more than six weeks often develop a Xanax addiction. Some will have them prescribed by a doctor, and some will self-medicate by buying them online.

In high doses, Xanax can create a state of mental and physical ease, and also eliminate pain, worry, and symptoms of anxiety. Yet, this high is short-lived and will generally only last a few hours. Although it only provides immediate relief, the effects of a Xanax addiction are long-lasting. Like any other addiction, users should not attempt immediate withdrawal without professional help.

Treatment for prescription drug addiction and abuse

Prescription drug addiction help begins with detoxification. In a case where an individual becomes dependent on prescription drugs, they should detoxify their body from all remaining substances in a safe, controlled environment, whilst under medical supervision. They should not attempt self-detoxification, which can potentially be dangerous and result in extremely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, which may even be life-threatening.

For more information on the treatments services offered by Charterhouse Clinic for drug addiction, please visit our drug addiction treatment page.

If you or a loved one needs prescription drug help, we can arrange emergency admissions to accommodate those at risk of overdose.

If your enquiry is urgent, please call 01327 340 990 or 0808 123 0222.

Our team of experts can directly arrange pre-planned admissions for drug detoxification and recovery, so please do not hesitate to contact us.