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What Leads a Person to Become
Addicted to Prescription Drugs?

Prescription drug addiction is no different from alcoholism or an addiction to any other substance.People who suffer from chronic pain are in a very difficult position. Painkillers do relieve pain. For people who suffer from constant and chronic pain, narcotics may be necessary to allow them to have any quality of life. The downside is becoming physically dependent and risking the possibility of addiction. A recent survey by the National Institute on Drug Abuse at Columbia University indicated that approximately 50% of primary care physicians have difficulty speaking with their patients about substance abuse.


When narcotic substances are taken regularly for a length of time, the body does not respond to them as well. That is why every drug legally requires a prescription, especially, the ones that can make you “high” with the overdose such as relaxants, sleeping pills, etc. Tolerance then becomes defined as a state of progressively decreased responsiveness to a drug as a result of which a larger dose of the drug is needed to achieve the effect originally obtained by a smaller dose.

Dependence or Addiction

There is a difference between dependence and addiction. Dependence occurs when tolerance builds up and the body needs the drug in order to function. Withdrawal symptoms will begin if the drug is stopped abruptly. On the other hand, when a person turns to the regular use of a drug to satisfy emotional, and psychological needs, they are addicted to that substance. Physical dependence exists as well, but the drug has become a way to cope with (or avoid) all kinds of uncomfortable feelings. Somewhere along the line, however, the drug begins to take over their lives and becomes more important than anything else. Nothing will stop them from getting their drug of choice.

It may be difficult to understand how someone could let this happen. How could someone who is reasonably intelligent and sophisticated in regards to drug addiction become an addict? Addiction has nothing to do with intelligence. And addiction to prescription drugs is no different than any other substance abuse problem. Health care providers may have a slightly higher rate of addiction due to both the stressful nature of the work and their relatively easy access to supplies of narcotics.

Addictive Behaviors

Lying, keeping secrets, hiding pills and obsessively counting them, making unnecessary emergency room visits and constantly visiting drug stores are some addictive behaviors of the addicts.

Under other circumstances, the individual would probably not engage in the behaviors listed above, unless they were previously part of his/her personality structure. In other words, addictive behaviors are limited to the addiction itself and are generally dissonant with the person's beliefs and values in any other area of their life.

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