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Despite the fact that prescription drugs might sound somehow ‘safer’ than illegal substances, they are no less addictive. If prescription drugs have become a problem for you or someone you care about, you’ll be well aware of how quickly dependency can arise and how concerning the consequences can be.

Prescription drug abuse and addiction has become a major health concern world-wide, with opioid prescription drug deaths overtaking illegal opiates drug deaths.

The CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) released data showing that synthetic opioid related deaths, including Tramadol and Fentanyl (both legitimately prescribed and illicitly manufactured) have caused a staggering number of deaths in recent years.

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This not only proves the scale of the problem that we are facing in the war on addictive prescription drugs but also highlights how lethal they can be when abused.

At Delamere rehab Cheshire, the UK’s only purpose built behavioural wellness and addiction treatment centre, we provide professional prescription drug help and treatment.

Our multidisciplinary team has years of experience in successfully treating prescription drug addiction and dependency. We are here to help you and your family move beyond addiction and break free from prescription drug addiction, regardless of the substance or the source involved.

Our resources and expertise include a medical team who can help you safely withdraw from any prescription drug. We also offer residential programmes at our first class facility in the beautiful and secluded woodlands of Cheshire. Here, our distinguished counsellors and therapists can help you resolve and overcome the specific issues underpinning your addiction.
Our residential treatment programmes are designed to help establish permanent recovery from prescription drug addiction. Call us today for a free and comprehensive assessment of your individual treatment needs.

Signs and symptoms of prescription drug dependency

At Delamere rehab Cheshire, we feel it is important to understand the difference between a physical prescription drug dependence and an addiction based prescription drug dependence. The reason being is that if you suffer from addiction and only treat the physical aspect, you are highly likely to relapse. Relapse can not only be devastating but is extremely threatening to human life.

Prescription drug dependence can be a stand alone condition that is not necessarily accompanied by addiction. Whilst addiction often involves drug dependence, the two conditions can occur completely independently of one another, or can occur simultaneously.

A physical dependence to prescription drugs means just that, your body has developed a physical dependence and needs a certain amount of drugs in order to function normally.

Male psychologist therapist speak at group therapy session helping those addicted to prescription drugs

Unlike an addiction based dependency, once your body is clear of the prescription drug, even if a medical detox is required, you will have no difficulty in resuming your normal day to day activities and staying clear of prescription drugs. Your quality of life will improve as will your health. No additional support will be required.

Addiction, on the other hand, is a chronic and progressive disorder of the brain. Addiction affects the brains function and structure. An individual who suffers from addiction will have great difficulty in stopping or reducing prescription drugs and will often require a full medical detox to achieve this. However, even without the drugs present in their system the brain remains in the same structurally damaged and altered state, which prioritises prescription drugs above all else. This means they are extremely vulnerable to relapse.

Not many prescription drug addicts (if any) will stay clean from prescription drugs for very long without undergoing a full rehabilitation programme.

Prescription drug dependency, whilst not considered a life threatening condition unlike prescription drug addiction, can still heavily impact on a persons quality of life. It can also carry physical and psychological consequences if not correctly addressed.

If you have a prescription drug dependency (with or without addiction) you will experience withdrawal symptoms on stopping the addictive drug. It is important that you seek medical advice and do not just stop taking the drug, this can cause life threatening complications to occur.
If you suffer from a stand alone prescription drug dependence and are struggling to stop due to unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, Delamere can assist you with a full medical detox. This will enable you to become prescription drug free safely and comfortably.
Deciding whether you are prescription drug dependent, or addicted and drug dependent can be confusing if you do not know the signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction. This is where we feel we can be of service by highlighting the symptoms of addiction relating to prescription drugs below.

Signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction

Signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction tend not to be as obvious as an alcohol or drug addiction. Having possession of a prescribed drug and even abusing it, is somehow viewed as acceptable, even if that prescribed drug does not belong to you.

Ask yourself this – Have you ever self-medicated? Taken medication from a friend or family member? Or, given some of your own supply away without even considering the possible consequences? If we answer this honestly, many of us are guilty of this.

Spotting the signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction in yourself or someone you care for can lead to accessing life saving treatment. Just because the drug is prescribed does not mean you should turn a blind eye or take the problem any less seriously that you would an addiction to say alcohol, cocaine or heroin.

Behavioural signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction include:

  • Regular visits to the doctors for the same medical complaint
  • Using more than one doctor in order to get more prescription drugs
  • Shopping online for prescription drugs
  • Numerous empty bottles or packets of prescribed medication
  • Increased anxiety around getting prescriptions fulfilled or on repeat
  • Manipulating doctors for more medication or an increase in dosage
  • Being dishonest around prescription drug use, i.e hiding the amount being taken, the extent of the addiction problem, lying about medical conditions
  • Regularly complaining about a medical condition to justify prescription drug use
  • Regularly losing control of the amount of prescription medications taken
  • Not adhering to prescription instructions ie, taking more than prescribed, changing the route of administration – crushing and snorting, mixing prescription drugs with alcohol or other substances for more pronounced effects
  • Defensiveness if challenged around prescription drug use
  • Behavioural changes in the workplace and education – poor performance, unreliability, loss of interest. Or, if abusing a stimulant drug – working very long hours without sufficient rest periods or eating
  • Inability to stop or control prescription drug use

Physical & emotional signs & symptoms of prescription drug addiction include:

  • Dramatic unexplained weight loss or weight gain
  • Appearing frequently intoxicated – very drowsy and lethargic or unusually energetic
  • Severe and rapid mood swings
  • Pronounced anxiety and depression
  • Loss of interest in hygiene and/or appearance
  • Anxiety / panic attacks
  • Emotional unavailability and withdrawal
  • Unusual hostility, agitation or aggression
  • Changes in appetite
  • Feelings of shame and guilt relating to prescription drug use
  • New physical health problems emerging from abusing prescription drugs
  • Social withdrawal
  • Substantial changes in sleep pattern i.e sleeping too much or going very long periods of time with little or no sleep

One of the main reasons that prescription drug addiction can be difficult to spot is due to different drugs having different effects. There are however some key signs and symptoms that a prescription drug addict would exhibit, especially in relation to their behaviour.

If you or someone you care for are displaying any of the signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction, immediate professional help and treatment is available by calling us at Delamere.

Even if you are unsure or only have a suspicion, it is still worth discussing your individual situation with one of our addiction treatment experts. We know the signs and symptoms of addiction and how to effectively treat them.

Prescription drugs ARE addictive

Many individuals make the mistake of thinking that because a drug is legitimately prescribed that it is safe and non-addictive. Whilst with many medications (such as antibiotics) this is the case, it does not extend to addictive prescription drugs.

Prescription drugs that have powerful painkilling effects, psychoactive effects, sedative effects or stimulant effects, can and often do lead to prescription drug dependence and addiction.

Students and teenagers are particularly at risk of prescription drug abuse and addiction. Many turn to prescription drugs as an easy answer to stress, academic pressures, sleep problems or simply just to get high. Teenagers are generally less aware of the risks involved and are more vulnerable to addiction due to their brain still developing.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse NIDA

Prescription drug dependence and abuse has become such a large scale problem in the UK, that Public Health England called for a landmark review and stricter protocols for the prescribing of the following types of addictive prescriptions drugs:

  • Antidepressants – including mirtazapine and trazodone
  • Opioids (for chronic pain) – including codeine, morphine, oxycodone, tramadol etc
  • Gabapentinoids – including gabapentin and pregabalin
  • Benzodiazepines – including valium (diazepam), temazepam, librium etc
  • Z List drugs – including zopiclone and zolpidem

In addition to the above drugs that have moderate to high abuse potential and can create drug dependence within a relatively short space of time (weeks as oppose to months), stimulant medications also have a moderate to high potential for abuse.

Stimulant drugs that are commonly prescribed for weight loss and for the treatment of ADHD and ADD are commonly abused and can lead to addiction. These drugs can not only be obtained through prescription but can also be obtained from the dark web and internet.

If you are taking a prescribed drug it is vital that you read the accompanying leaflet with the medication. There is a world of difference between an addictive prescription drug and other medications that do not create drug dependence or addiction.

Addictive prescribed drugs will always state tolerance, dependence and withdrawal are a complication and risk on the accompanying leaflet. If you are at all unsure, please check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Which ‘prescribed’ substances become a problem?

As you might expect, those drugs which tend to be the most abused and have the potential to become a serious problem are pain killers. Opiate based prescription painkillers are extremely addictive and can create a drug tolerance and dependence within as little as 5-7 days of continuous use.

When we consider that at the route of all addiction is often some sort of physical or psychological pain, it is not surprising that painkillers, literally become a problem for some.
Opiate based drugs cause extremely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can be so difficult to tolerate that an individual can continue to use a prescribed drug even when the original problem has been resolved – rather than go through the withdrawal process.

Synthetic opioids can be particularly troublesome to stop as their chemical compounds are more complex than natural opiates. A prime example of this would be the opioid analgesic Tramadol. Tramadol withdrawal symptoms produce intense drug cravings as well as a whole host of unpleasant physical and psychological symptoms.

abused prescription drug abuse

Sleeping pills, weight loss pills and medications for depression and anxiety are also commonly abused. Popular names for these include Xanax, Diazepam and Valium.

If you or a loved one have developed a prescription drug addiction or dependence, Delamere rehab Cheshire specialises in delivering full medical detoxes to control the symptoms of tramadol withdrawal, benzodiazepine withdrawal, xanax withdrawal, zopiclone withdrawal and codeine withdrawal (to name just a few).

We can help you to withdrawal comfortably and most importantly safely within our purpose built detox facility that uniquely provides 24/7 specialist detox care from our qualified nursing team.

Prescription drug addiction is a terrifying problem; one that spirals quickly without professional help

One of the reasons why dependency on a medication can feel so terrifying is that prescription drug use often starts under the guidance of a trusted doctor. However, many doctors are susceptible to over prescribing by treating the symptoms rather than the cause.

As a result of prescription drug dependency becoming an ever worsening problem in the UK, more people are having to turn to private prescription drug help.

Sadly, when it comes to accessing the correct addiction support and treatment the NHS fall extremely short, both in terms of funding and in providing the correct environmental care.

There is also tragically still a stigma attached to addiction that prevents many from seeking the treatment that they so desperately need.

The main findings of Public Health England’s emergency review on addictive prescription drugs revealed:

  • 1 in 4 adults have been prescribed these medicines, and half of them have been taking these medicines for at least 12 months
  • the number of prescriptions for antidepressants is rising, particularly among women and older adults
  • the highest prescribing rates are in areas with greatest social deprivation

There is a very fine line between prescription drug dependence and addiction. Individuals with a predisposition towards developing an addiction are at particularly high risk of a dependence spiralling into abuse and addiction.

Those that develop a dependence to a prescription drugs can inadvertently find themselves requiring more of the drug in order to gain the desired effect. They can also find themselves turning to abusing the drug, whether it be taking more than is prescribed or mixing the prescription drug with alcohol or another drug. It isn’t usually until consequences, both physically and emotionally, start to overwhelm them that they even realise that they have a problem.

The internet and illicit street dealers have only compounded the problem. Addictive prescribed drugs can be easily obtained with no questions asked and cash or a credit card to hand.

Often, counterfeit cheaper alternatives are also available online and on the streets. Counterfeit prescription drugs are particularly high risk, not only for addiction but also for life-threatening reactions and overdose. Their potency and questionable chemical formulas are unpredictable in their effects to say the very least.

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How can Delamere help?

If prescription drugs have become a problem for you or someone you care about, Delamere rehab Cheshire can help.

Most people who stay at Delamere with a dependency on prescription drugs need help initially with the physical aspects. Withdrawal from prescription medication that has been abused can be dangerous and a safe detoxification is often the first step.

Once you have safely stopped, treatment is focused around the psychological aspects of the dependency and the reasons why you developed addiction

Here, we help you work through the reasons why medication became a problem in the first place and help you future proof your abstinence with our unique set of tools and techniques.

Furthermore, once inpatient treatments has been completed, our care and support does not stop. Delamere will continue to support and help you maintain abstinence for the first 12 months of your outpatient recovery.

For more information speak to our team about how we can help you grow beyond addiction and find residential treatment programmes today.

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References and further reading

  1. Understanding the opioid epidemic (CDC).
  2. National Institute on drug Abuse NIDA – Abuse of prescription drugs (Rx) drugs affects young adults the most.
  3. Further information on PHE Prescribed medicines review – The report, what this means for patients and clinical commissioning data group reports are all available to view online here.


Frequently asked questions

The physical aspects of a prescription drug problem can be complex and depending on the severity of your dependency, you may need a clinical detox initially. This be the case, our clinical team will ensure a safe and comfortable medically assisted withdrawal.

Many people who struggle with prescription medication often worry that when it comes to treatment, they mightn’t identify with someone for whom alcohol or cocaine has been a problem. When they start exploring how their addiction has affected their life, however, many come to realise that everyone, regardless of the substance is in a similar boat.

If you are concerned about your relationship with prescription medication or are acquiring and abusing prescribed drugs illegally, you may need a detox. By calling our assessment team we will take time to get a sense of what is happening for you and what treatment is appropriate.

Detox at Delamere is the first phase of treatment for many of our clients. We employ some of the most skilled, respected and experienced practitioners in the UK in order that you feel safe and comfortable at all times while you are with us. Our purpose-built retreat is complete with its own up-to-the-minute clinical detox facility that provides 24 hour medical care. You benefit from round the clock supervision from our nursing team, and most participants have reported that it is much easier and less intimidating than they feared. You have the option to engage in some light therapeutic work and if you feel up to it make use of the activities on offer, but fundamentally the detox it’s about helping you settle in and start to feel like yourself again.