pill addiction

Pill Addiction: Symptoms and Phases

Did you know the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that almost 18 million people in America abused prescription pills in 2017? Prescription pill abuse involves taking drugs other than how they were prescribed. Prescription pill abuse can result in addiction and increase the risk of overdose, according to reports published by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In this article, we take a detailed look at pill addiction and its signs.

What is Pill Addiction?

Prescription pill abuse means using medications prescribed by a doctor or other medical professionals in a manner that was not prescribed. Prescription pill addiction almost always follows the problematic use or abuse of prescription drugs, and this type of abuse might entail anything from taking a prescription pain reliever you got from a friend to treat a cough from an injury to snorting or injecting powdered pills to get “high.” Pill abuse can swiftly turn into destructive, ongoing, compulsive behavior, despite a range of serious harmful effects.

A rising issue in America, pill abuse impacts individuals of all races, genders, religions, ages, and classes. However, it’s a problem that’s more prevalent among the youth. Opioid pain relievers such as OxyContin, anti-anxiety pills like Xanax, sedatives like Amytal or Seconal, and stimulants like Adderall are the prescription pills that individuals tend to abuse and get addicted to the most.

Prescription pill addiction is becoming a very serious issue in America as the people of the country don’t take prescription pill abuse as seriously as they should. Prescription pill abuse can result in serious health problems and even addiction if not treated at the right time.

Signs of Pill Addiction

Here are some of the most common signs of pill addiction.


  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling high
  • Increased dose needed for pain relief
  • Nausea
  • Poor coordination
  • Slowed breathing rate
  • Worsening or increased sensitivity to pain with higher doses

Anti-anxiety medicines and sedatives

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor concentration
  • Problems with memory
  • Slowed breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Unsteady walking


  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling high
  • High blood pressure
  • High body temperature
  • Increased alertness
  • Insomnia
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Paranoia
  • Reduced appetite

Other signs

  • Taking a higher dosage than what was prescribed
  • Stealing, selling, or forging prescriptions
  • Experiencing mood swings or acting in a hostile manner
  • Sleeping more or less
  • Reduced ability to make sound decisions
  • Being unusually high, revved up, or energetic
  • Feeling sleepy or drowsy
  • Attempting to get prescriptions from a single prescriber
  • Asking for early refills or continuously “losing” prescriptions in the hopes of getting more prescriptions.


Phases of Pill Addiction

If you or your loved one is suffering from prescription pill addiction, you need to understand the stages of drug addiction, as it can help you determine what type of treatment is needed. Continue reading below to understand symptoms at every stage.

First Stage: Non-Medical Consumption

Non-medical consumption of prescription pills is the first indicator that someone is moving toward addiction. Individuals who don’t have a prescription for a drug might experiment with them to “have fun” or cope with a problem. In some cases, this experimentation can happen without any intention to continue consuming the drug. However, for others, non-medical experimentation can turn into a problem.

On the other hand, for individuals who have a medical prescription, non-medical use involves taking your prescription more often than what’s prescribed, taking more than the recommended dose, or consuming pills that haven’t been prescribed. When an individual starts consuming their prescriptions non-medically, it’s typically an indicator that they are consuming painkillers to get high instead of treating the pain. In fact, it’s a strong sing that an individual is heading toward addiction.

Second Stage: Misuse

Misuse of prescription pills is very much like non-medical consumption. However, it is done at a chronic level. In simple words, if you have taken more than the recommended dosage a few times, you have entered the second stage of prescription pill addiction.

Third Stage: Abuse

Chronic misuse of prescription pills is a clear indicator of drug abuse. Other indicators of prescription pill addiction include missed deadlines, trouble meeting other responsibilities, relationship issues, etc. This is the phase where the warning indicators of addiction start to appear: irritability, fatigue, craving, getting preoccupied with the drug, depression, etc., if the drug isn’t used. These withdrawal symptoms indicate that an individual has become physically dependent on prescription medicine.

Fourth Stage: Addiction

The physical dependence on pills can swiftly turn into psychological dependence. This means an individual has stepped into the last phase of prescription pill addiction. Physical dependence refers to the withdrawal symptoms an individual is going to feel if the drug isn’t used. On the other hand, psychological dependence is all about the compulsive need to continue consuming the drug, despite various harmful consequences to your work, criminal record, personal finances, mental and physical health, and relationships.

Other indicators of psychological dependence include obsession with getting the drug, cravings, and timing dosage so that you don’t come down. This usually results in attempting to get more prescription pills from your healthcare providers, doctor-shopping to get more prescriptions of the same drug, and even purchasing illegal drugs off the street.

Get Help for Pill Addiction

No matter how serious, there is always a treatment for pill addiction. Treatment options are going to vary depending on the substance, along with the history and abuse patterns of the patient. In the event of opioids and other medications that involve physical addiction, withdrawal is the first step toward recovery.

Nevertheless, no matter which pills the patient is abusing, the ideal course of action is through a professional pill rehab provider. At MAT Texas, we offer medication-assisted treatment for people undergoing opiate addiction to drugs such as Oxycodone, Oxycontin, Heroine, and Fentanyl. Our goal is to treat the whole patient through the use of FDA-approved medicines, such as Suboxone® (Buprenorphine) and methadone. Coupled with behavioral therapy and counseling, these medications help alleviate the symptoms of cravings and withdrawals, enabling the patient to work on positive behavioral changes.