Prescription drug addiction is very different from other types of addiction. The substances that a person is addicted to have a legitimate medical purpose and are prescribed for a variety of medical reasons. However, having a prescription drug addiction is no less serious. At The Perry Clayman Project, addictions to prescription drugs are treated with the same care as other addictions. Clients get individualised care to help them recover from their addiction and move forward in their lives. 

Prescription Drug Addiction

For some, a prescription drug addiction begins with a legitimate prescription. It can be a result of pain management or an effort to manage mental health. However, it becomes a drug addiction when a person starts using the medication beyond what a doctor has prescribed. This may mean taking more than the prescribed dose or using the prescription at times when it is not needed.

The basis of a prescription drug addiction is the same as any addiction. A specific prescription drug rewires the brain’s pleasure centres and begins to drive a person to use it more and more. As a result, a person becomes chemically dependent on the drug and will feel withdrawal symptoms when they do not take it. When a person is struggling with a prescription drug addiction, they will often go through their prescription quicker than what the prescription is written for. They may also seek the drug from other sources.

While many with a prescription drug addiction started with a prescription, not all do. Many prescriptions are available illegally on the street and are taken for the high that they provide. Additionally, it is possible to take someone else’s prescription, such as a friend or family member. This can lead to substance abuse, regardless of having an actual prescription for a certain drug.

Types of Prescription Drug Addiction

There are multiple types of prescription drug addictions, as many substances that are prescribed are highly addictive. However, the most common are addictions to opioids, central nervous system (CNS) depressants, and stimulants. 


Generally prescribed for pain relief and pain management, opioids are highly addictive. They are commonly prescribed in the UK. Commonly prescribed opioids are codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, and fentanyl. Unfortunately, opioids are also prevalently used illegally.

Opioids work by blocking pain receptors in the brain. As a result, they decrease the feeling of pain. However, they also cause other reactions in the body, such as sleepiness, euphoria, and relaxation. Many people return to using opioids to get the feeling they create. However, over time they become physically dependent on opioids which results in withdrawal symptoms when they stop using them.

Central Nervous System Depressants

CNS depressants are a class of drugs that include sedatives, tranquillisers, and hypnotics. All of these drugs slow down brain activity. This makes them very useful for treating things like anxiety, panic attacks, stress, and difficulties with sleep. These drugs result in sleepiness and make a person feel calm, lowering blood pressure.

However, CNS depressants are also highly addictive. While it may begin with taking sleeping pills to cure insomnia, it can lead to severe physical dependence on a CNS depressant. The dosage will often increase over time for the intended or desired effects.


Drugs like Adderall and Ritalin are both types of drugs in the category of stimulants. They are used for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. Therefore, these drugs help a person to be more alert and awake, increasing their energy level. They are helpful for those with ADHD because they increase dopamine levels. This is the neurotransmitter associated with attention and pleasure.

People using prescription stimulants often feel a rush of euphoria. Therefore, they are often used by those without a prescription. This sensation is a result of an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar caused by stimulants. Withdrawal from stimulants will result in sleep issues, fatigue, and depression.

More Common Drugs

While prescription drug addiction often brings to mind substances like opioids or benzodiazepines, it’s important to recognize the full spectrum of drugs that can lead to addiction, including seemingly harmless over-the-counter medications. A notable example is paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen), commonly used for pain relief but not without its risks.

Paracetamol addiction is a less discussed yet critical issue, especially considering its wide availability and common usage. It typically arises from prolonged use, often due to chronic pain management. Addiction to paracetamol can lead to serious health risks, including liver and kidney damage, and necessitates a nuanced approach to treatment and recovery.

Healing From Prescription Drug Addiction

The process of recovering from a prescription drug addiction is unique for each person. However, it is a similar journey to addiction treatment for any kind of substance. The journey often begins with drug detox. This is the process that a person’s body needs to go through when they stop using a drug. Medical detox is the best option, as an individual’s process of detox is overseen by medical professionals who can intervene when necessary. 

After the detox process, addiction treatment involves addiction therapy. The specifics will vary and be unique to each person. However, in addiction therapy, an individual will work with a therapist to understand the root cause of their addiction. They will learn tools to manage these root causes without the use of prescription drugs. The process is important in making the necessary changes to their life that will help them achieve long-term recovery from prescription drugs. 

Whether an individual has ended up with a prescription drug addiction through legal prescription or not, treatment is important. The Perry Clayman Project works with clients from a variety of different backgrounds to help them understand how they got to where they are while healing both mentally and physically from their addiction to prescription drugs

If you are struggling with a prescription drug addiction, you don’t have to struggle alone. To learn more about treatment at The Perry Clayman Project, call us today at 08000 380 480. We can answer your questions and help begin the process of healing.