Did You Know? The 3 Most Commonly Abused Prescription Medications

Rx Pill Abuse
“An American born in 2019 will spend a larger share of their lifetime taking prescription drugs than being married or receiving an education…” according to a new study out of Penn State. With over half of the country taking at least 1 prescription medication, and most people taking 3 or more, the United States is the most medicated country in the world. Everything from pain, to stress, to sleep has a pill for it and the American appetite for these drugs is insatiable. This abundance of prescription drugs unfortunately had led to an increase in the abuse of these medications. In this blog, we'll explore three of the most commonly abused prescription medications, delve into the prevalence of prescription pill abuse, discuss the signs of abuse, and provide guidance on seeking help for those struggling with addiction.


Top Three Abused Rx Meds


  • Opioids: This one should come as no surprise to anyone. Everyday in the news we see the increasing number of overdose deaths linked to opioids. In 2022, over 130 million opioid prescriptions were written in the US alone. While these narcotic painkillers are highly effective at relieving pain, they are also highly addictive due to the euphoria they induce. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 130 people in the United States die every day after overdosing on opioids.

  • Benzodiazepines: If you don’t recognize the term benzodiazepine, you might be more familiar with the drug names themselves - Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin,  Librium, etc. These medications are prescribed to treat anxiety, insomnia, and other stress related conditions. While they can provide relief from symptoms, they also have a high potential for abuse and dependence. Physical dependence on these drugs is highly dangerous and carries the same risks as alcohol addiction, i.e. risks of seizures, hallucinations, and death. 

  • Stimulants: Despite the recent Adderall shortages, stimulant medications like Adderall and Ritalin continue to be heavily prescribed and heavily abused. Intended for the treatment of ADHD and narcolepsy, these drugs are frequently misused for increased focus, energy, and its euphoric effect. Stimulant abuse is particularly common among students and young adults seeking enhanced academic or work performance.

The prevalence of prescription pill abuse is staggering. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Misuse of prescription psychotherapeutic drugs is second only to marijuana as the nation's most prevalent illicit drug use issue.” This includes not only opioids, benzodiazepines, and stimulants but also other prescription drugs like sleep aids and muscle relaxants.


Signs of Medication Abuse


  • Taking medication more frequently or in higher doses than prescribed.

  • Doctor shopping or visiting multiple healthcare providers to obtain prescriptions.

  • Changes in behavior, such as mood swings, irritability, or secretive behavior.

  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school, or home.

  • Financial problems or unexplained financial transactions.

  • Physical signs, such as drowsiness, slurred speech, or weight fluctuations.


Treatment for Prescription Pill Addiction


Treatment options vary depending on individual needs but may include:

  • Medical Detoxification: In cases of severe addiction, medical detoxification may be necessary to safely manage withdrawal symptoms.

  • Therapy: Counseling and therapy can help individuals explore the underlying causes of their addiction and develop coping strategies to maintain sobriety.

  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT): MAT combines medication with behavioral therapy to address opioid and alcohol addiction effectively.

  • Support Groups: Participating in support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous or SMART Recovery, can provide valuable peer support and encouragement.


Are You Ready?


If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription pill addiction, call Owl’s Nest Recovery today. Our experienced clinical team can walk you through the treatment process, create a recovery plan for you, and answer any questions or concerns you may have. There is a life on the other side of prescription drug abuse. We can help you find it.


The Owls Nest


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