Addiction is marked by an out-of-control need and craving that affects relationships and social obligations, such as work and school. Prescription medications are drugs given to treat a certain condition. Prescription drug addiction is the compulsive seeking and overuse of prescription medications despite harmful consequences. Some medications have a higher risk of addiction. Even with proper use they are associated with alterations in the pathways in the brain. These pathways influence sense of reward and well-being which can influence addiction.

Medication abuse is inappropriate use of medicine. It may include taking higher dose than recommended, snorting pills, mixing with other drugs and alcohol or using medication for wrong reason (such as using pain medication for sleep). Medication (drug) abuse may only develop because of addiction or the addiction may develop after abuse of a medication.

There are certain prescription drugs that are commonly abused because they are more likely to cause addiction. These drugs include:

  • Opioids—used to treat pain, medication examples include
    • morphine
    • codeine
    • oxycodone
  • Central nervous system depressants—used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders, medication examples include
    • barbiturates
    • benzodiazepines
  • Stimulants—used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, medication examples include
    • dextroamphetamine
    • methylphenidate

The reasons people become addicted to prescription drugs are largely unknown. It is most likely due to a combination of factors. The following may play a role in prescription medication addiction:

  • Genetic factors
  • Altered pathways in brain caused by addicting medications

Brain Pathways
Brain nerve pathways
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