Prescription drug addiction is on the rise throughout America. The National Institute on Drug Abuse states that about 48 million people (20% of the US population) have used prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes in their lifetime. Prescription drug abuse is highest among Americans aged 18 to 25. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 20,000 Americans die from prescription drug abuse each year. Painkiller addiction led to 475,000 visits to the emergency room in 2009. Unlike illegal drugs, prescription drugs are more easily accessible through doctor shopping, pill mills and theft from loved ones who have prescriptions.

Below are five of the 10 most commonly abused prescription drugs and the symptoms of their abuse, according to the CDC and FDA:


A combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen, Vicodin is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Signs and symptoms of Vicodin abuse are:

  • Severe mood swings
  • Drowsiness
  • Lack of focus
  • Nausea
  • Increasing anxiety and paranoia
  • Obsession with obtaining Vicodin by any means necessary


Used to mainly help treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks, Xanax is one of the more commonly abused prescription drugs. Signs and symptoms of Xanax abuse are:

  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Impaired memory
  • Decreased attention span
  • Impaired motor skills and coordination
  • Hallucinations
  • Decreased libido
  • Suicidal thoughts


Prescribed mainly to treat chronic back pain and pain from osteoporosis or cancer, Opana is commonly abused by being crushed into a powder form to be snorted in order to get high. Addiction to Opana can bring about symptoms such as:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Convulsions
  • Lightheadedness


Commonly used to treat insomnia, Lunesta can be abused by taking it with alcohol or snorting the crushed powder form. Symptoms of addiction to Lunesta include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Thoughts of self-inflicting harm
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite


Adderall is mainly used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy. However, it has become a commonly abused drug by college students looking to stay up late at night to study more. It is estimated that between 20 to 30 percent of college students abuse Adderall. Signs of Adderall addiction include:

  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Rapid breathing
  • Blurred vision
  • Paranoia
  • Itching
This see Part 2 of this two-part blog series, click here.

Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction

Drugs that alter the conditions of the body or mind have dangerous effects if abused, regardless of their legal standing. Even if these prescription drugs are used for their intended medical purposes, these drugs may have serious and sometimes fatal consequences when abused. If someone you know is possibly addicted to prescription drugs or painkillers, seek help immediately by contacting a therapist or drug counselor today. Cornerstone Recovery Center, a drug treatment center in South Florida, provides comprehensive detox, drug rehabilitation, aftercare treatment and relapse prevention services. If you or a loved one is suffering from prescription drug abuse or any other addiction, please call us toll free 1-888-711-0354 to speak confidentially with one of our expert counselors, or submit an online form for more information.