When taken as directed by a physician, prescription drugs can be beneficial for any number of symptoms or conditions. However, when abused, prescription drugs can be as dangerous as any illegal substances. The misconception that they are safer may, in fact, make them even more deadly. Recently, prescription drug addiction in the United States has reached epidemic proportions. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, around 2 million Americans aged 12 and over were addicted to prescription pills in 2015. This increase is directly related to the increase in heroin use, as many users switch to heroin after developing an addiction to prescription drugs.

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There are many prescription drugs with abuse potential, but they fall into three basic categories:
  • Opioids: Designed to address pain, these drugs are extremely addictive even when taken as prescribed. The most commonly prescribed opioids include Vicodin, OxyContin, and Fentanyl. Read more about opioids here.
  • Stimulants: Stimulants increase energy levels and allow users to accomplish tasks faster. Commonly prescribed stimulants include Ritalin and Adderall. Stimulants are often prescribed to address attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and to help with focus in school or work.
  • Depressants: Depressants include benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax. They are used primarily for sleep disorders and to treat anxiety. These drugs are especially dangerous to withdrawal from, as they can cause deadly seizures.


Because there are many types of prescription drugs, their symptoms vary. However, the following signs may indicate a problem:
  • Using more than prescribed
  • Tolerance (using more and more to achieve the same effect)
  • Excuses why the prescription is gone or more is needed
  • Appointments with multiple doctors for the same issue
  • Stealing or asking for prescription drugs from others
  • Filling prescriptions over the internet
Behavioral changes the involve sleep or mood are common, especially when prescriptions run out. If you notice any of these signs, it is essential to seek help immediately. Death resulting from overdoses or withdrawal is especially common with prescription pills. There were over 20,000 prescription pain reliever deaths in 2015 alone.


Many prescription drugs are too dangerous to overcome without professional help. Medical detox before treatment is often required. Never stop taking your prescriptions without consulting a doctor. At Tree House Recovery, our treatment is designed to build sustainable recovery for men suffering from prescription drug addiction. Our program is fully individualized to meet your specific needs. TO learn more, please call us 24/7 at (855) 202-2138.


Differentiating between legitimate prescription drug use and abuse can be difficult. Effects of prescription drugs depend on the substance being used and the individual. However, being familiar with the ways that prescription drugs are used, their street names, and the signs of addiction can help you determine if there is a problem.


  • Barbiturates (These include: Amytal, Luminal, Nembutal): Barb, Down, Yellow
  • Benzodiazepines (These include: Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, Xanax): Bar, Benzo, Vallie, Vitamin V, Xan, Xanie
  • Opioids: Visit our opioid page
  • Stimulants (These include: Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, Vyvanse): Addy, Amp, Dexie, Pep, Speed, Ups

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Prescription pills are commonly smoked. Signs of this include burnt tinfoil, hollowed-out pens, rolled up bills, or straws.


Many prescription drugs are also shot (injected). This is usually performed using a spoon and cotton to prepare the drug.


Prescription drugs are commonly abused orally. Red flags for abuse include empty pill bottles and numerous prescriptions.


Sniffing (snorting) is an extremely common way to abuse prescription drugs. This is usually done with a pen or straw.

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