Substance abuse and addiction isn’t just limited to alcohol and street drugs. It can also be very easy to become addicted to medication. This can be very confusing and dangerous all at the same time, because medication has been prescribed to help treat something that might be wrong.

While taking medication prescribed by a doctor and following all dosing instructions can be beneficial for many, it can also lead to addiction when tolerance builds and someone begins to take more than the recommended dose. If you feel as if you may be becoming addicted to your medication, read these warning signs below and seek help.

Top 10 Warning Signs of Addiction to Medication

Intense cravings

If you have become addicted to your medication, intense cravings can be one of the first warning signs. Thinking about the drug, the next time you’ll be able to take it and ways you’ll be able to obtain it consume your thoughts and becomes priority.

Withdrawal symptoms

When you become addicted, your brain chemistry changes in a way to physically require the drug. If you do not supply your body with the drug, withdrawal symptoms start to take place. These can be:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Headaches

Failing to cut back or quit

Because of intense withdrawal symptoms, efforts to cut back on taking the drug or quit altogether may fail. Cravings and withdrawal symptoms take over and it becomes easy to go back to taking it, ignoring your inner dialogue or better judgement that you may need to quit.

Cutting back or quitting prescription medication use is difficult to do by yourself, and speaking to a doctor could be the best course of action. Many facilities offer detox assistance to help make this process more comfortable.

Drug-seeking behavior

Since medications are prescribed by doctors, users only receive a limited supply recommended by the doctor for their ailment. When tolerance builds and users begin to self-medicate by taking more, they will easily run out of their supply quicker than they should. In this case, they exhibit drug-seeking behaviors in order to obtain their substance of choice.

This can include:

  • Having multiple doctors prescribing multiple prescriptions
  • Visiting multiple pharmacies in order to fulfill prescriptions
  • Selling important items to pay for drugs
  • Stealing or borrowing money to pay for drugs
  • Obtaining drugs from the street market
  • Going to great lengths to obtain drugs
  • Combining medication with alcohol


Often times, drug users will isolate themselves from their family and friends to continue their drug use in private. Isolation can also be caused by difficulty of doing normal things, such as running errands or going to work. Losing interest in things that the user once found enjoyment in can also lead to isolation, such as playing sports, going to new restaurants, exercising or spending time with family and friends.

Aggression or Irritability

One of the many side effects of becoming addicted to medication is changes in mood. This can cause increased aggression or irritability, especially if withdrawal symptoms and cravings are taking place. This can cause loved ones to become concerned and address that the user has changed, leading to arguments and fractured relationships.

Changes in your inner circle

Having trouble getting along with family, friends and coworkers because of the changes in mood due to addiction can lead someone to find a new circle of friends. This circle often consists of fellow drug abusers. They often enable each other with drugs as the main focus of the friendship, not keeping the well-being of others in the group as the priority.

Changes in weight

Gaining a large amount of weight, as well as losing a large amount of weight, is a warning sign of becoming addicted to medication. This change in weight is caused by not eating much, or eating way too much when high on drugs.

Changes in sleep

When someone is addicted to medication, sleep becomes a large issue. Stimulants will keep a user up all night and not sleep at all or only sleep during the day, and depressants can cause the user to sleep most of the day as well. These changes in sleep patterns can often be an easy red flag to spot if we are thinking a loved one may be addicted to medication.

Neglecting responsibilities

Since drugs become the priority in a user’s life, responsibilities are often neglected and can become very damaging. This can mean anything from their relationship with their children, their career, bathing and hygiene, or cleaning their home and surroundings.

About Cliffside Malibu

Becoming addicted to medication is a risk people take when they begin taking medication for depression, pain or anxiety. Luckily, there is help, and we will be with you every step of the way.

Each patient is then matched with one of these five stages of the Transtheoretical Model: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance. An individualized treatment plan is created based on their current stage of change. This process is in place to ensure that all our patients receive the best treatment path possible for their own specific need. Our goal is to move individuals through their treatment by assessing their readiness for change and formulating stage-matched interventions in order to move them through their respective stage.

It is the policy of Cliffside Malibu to ensure that all individuals who present with chemical dependency issues are assessed for the appropriate level of care. We strive to provide continuum of care including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment and outpatient services. Services are provided to individuals with a primary diagnosis of substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction. Individuals seeking treatment are assessed by qualified staff to ensure program criteria are met and that each individual admitted is placed in the appropriate level of care for treatment. The program is designed and structured for individuals who are in need of a supportive environment in order to maintain Sobriety.

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