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Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment at NuLife Behavioral Health

You’re not alone if you or a loved one is grappling with prescription drug addiction. NuLife Behavioral Health Illinois in Chicagoland offers comprehensive prescription drug addiction treatment tailored to individual needs. This article will provide you with valuable information about prescription drug addiction and how NuLife can help you regain control of your life.

What's the Difference Between Drug Addiction and Drug Dependence?

Prescription drug addiction, like all substance abuse disorders, is a chronic psychological and medical condition that affects all aspects of a person. Drug addiction includes both drug dependence and psychological dependence. Drug dependence alone isn’t evidence of addiction. 

Addiction. This is a combination of a psychological craving for the drug plus drug dependence. Although a few rare substances can provoke addiction without true drug dependence, this is not the case with prescription drugs. Addiction often leads to destructive behaviors and impacts your daily life. An addicted person will continue using their substance of choice even though it’s causing them negative consequences.

Dependence. This is a physical condition where your body needs the drug to function normally. Stopping the drug suddenly (going “cold turkey”) can lead to withdrawal symptoms.

What Kinds of Prescription Drugs Are Most Likely to Cause Drug Addiction?


Opioids are commonly abused drugs, and opioid use disorder is a public health crisis in the U.S. They are often prescribed for pain relief following surgeries, dental work, injuries, or chronic conditions like cancer. While effective in alleviating pain, opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine have a high potential for drug abuse and addiction. The euphoric feeling these drugs produce often leads to misuse, even when initially taken as prescribed. Over time, the body builds a tolerance, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effect, thus increasing the risk of addiction.


Benzodiazepines, including medications like Xanax, Valium, and Ativan, are commonly prescribed for anxiety management and sleep disorders. Often called “benzos,” these drugs produce a calming effect. However, they’re not intended for long-term use due to their addictive potential. Regularly abused drugs like the benzos alprazolam and diazepam can cause physical and psychological dependence.


Stimulants like Adderall, Concerta, and Ritalin are prescribed for conditions other than ADHD, such as narcolepsy, or to enhance cognitive performance. These drugs increase focus and energy levels but have a high addiction risk. The increased energy and focus are enticing, leading to misuse. Overuse can result in severe health conditions, including heart issues and mental health disorders like anxiety.

Muscle Relaxants

These are often prescribed for muscle spasms or back pain. Commonly abused drugs in this family include Soma (carisoprodol), Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine), and Robaxin (methocarbamol). Muscle relaxants can be habit-forming and may lead to physical dependence, mainly when combined with other substances like alcohol.

Drug Interactions

Drug interactions can significantly affect the risk of addiction. Combining different types of medications or using prescription drugs with alcohol enhances their effects. These intensified effects increase the risks of dependence, addiction, and overdoses. Consult your healthcare provider about potential interactions to ensure safe and effective treatment.

Can't My Doctor Just Adjust My Prescription?

Your body can build up a tolerance to medication, needing higher doses to achieve the same effect. This can be a stepping stone to addiction. While doctors can adjust dosages, doing so without addressing the deeper causes of the issue can lead to a cycle of increasing dependence and potential addiction.

How Does Someone Become Addicted to Prescription Drugs?

Overuse: The Slippery Slope

Using more of a drug than you’ve prescribed is one of the most common, straightforward ways people become addicted. Sometimes, the dose your doctor has prescribed doesn’t feel like it’s helping. Maybe the original dosage was perfect, but over time, that dose doesn’t help anymore. When people bump up their dosage levels of medication without consulting a physician, the risk of addiction increases.

Long-term Use: When Medication Becomes a Crutch

Some medications are specifically made for safe long-term use. Other prescription drugs are only meant for short-term use, such as pain relief following surgery. However, some people continue to use these short-term medications for extended periods, far beyond their initial prescription. Long-term use increases the risk of building a tolerance, which can lead to dependence and addiction.

Self-Medication: A Dangerous Coping Mechanism

Many people start using prescription drugs for legitimate medical reasons but continue using them to cope with emotional or psychological issues. This self-medication can be especially risky because it often occurs without medical supervision. Using prescription drugs to manage stress, emotional pain, or other non-medical issues can quickly lead to addiction, as the individual comes to rely on the medication for emotional stability.

Ignoring Medical Advice: The Perils of Going Solo

Some individuals become addicted because they ignore medical advice, either by taking more than the recommended dose, using the drug for longer than advised, or using it in a way that was not intended (such as crushing pills to snort or inject them). This misuse increases the risk of addiction and poses significant health risks, including overdose.

Social and Environmental Factors: The External Triggers

External factors like peer pressure, easy access to prescription medication, or a stressful environment can also contribute to addiction. For example, someone might be introduced to a prescription drug recreationally at a social event and find themselves seeking it out afterward, eventually leading to misuse and addiction. Becoming addicted to prescription medication can happen through overuse, long-term use, self-medication, ignoring medical advice, and social or environmental factors.

What Are the Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction?

Behavioral Changes. One of the first signs of prescription drug addiction is a noticeable shift in behavior. You may observe mood swings, increased secrecy about activities, or a sudden withdrawal from social events and family gatherings.

Physical Symptoms. Physical symptoms can also be a red flag. Drowsiness or lethargy, unexplained weight loss or gain, and neglect of personal hygiene often indicate something is amiss.

Neglecting Responsibilities. Another sign of addiction is declining performance at work or neglecting household responsibilities. Tasks that were once easy to manage may become overwhelming, leading to missed deadlines at work or a disorganized home life.

What Are the Risk Factors?

Family history. A family history of addiction can significantly increase your risk of becoming addicted to prescription drugs. Genetic predispositions can make some individuals more susceptible to the addictive properties of certain medications. 

Mental health conditions. If you’re already dealing with mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, you may be at a higher risk for developing drug addiction. 

Social environment. Your social environment can also be a significant risk factor. Peer pressure to use prescription drugs recreationally or turn to medications as a coping mechanism during stressful life events increases the likelihood of addiction. 

Family history, mental health conditions, and your social environment are significant risk factors for developing a prescription drug addiction. Being aware of these factors can help you take preventive measures and seek early intervention if needed.

Find Help at NuLife Behavioral Health Illinois

If you notice signs of addiction in yourself or a loved one, it’s crucial to seek help immediately. The sooner you act, the better the chances for recovery.

Prescription drug addiction is considered a chronic condition but can be treated and managed. With the right combination of evidence-based treatment, behavioral therapy, holistic therapies, and long-term aftercare, a person can achieve sustained recovery and lead a fulfilling, productive life.

Outpatient programs like those at NuLife Behavioral Health aim not just to “cure” the addiction but to equip individuals with the tools, strategies, and support they need to manage their condition effectively. This often involves addressing underlying issues that may contribute to addiction, such as mental health conditions or emotional trauma, and providing ongoing support to prevent relapse.

NuLife provides a range of treatment options, including:

Individual Therapy. At NuLife, we offer individual therapy sessions with licensed professionals. These one-on-one therapy sessions provide a safe space to explore the underlying issues contributing to your addiction and help you develop coping mechanisms for long-term recovery.

Group Therapy. Group therapy is another cornerstone of our treatment approach. Sharing your experiences with others going through similar struggles can be empowering and give you a sense of community, which is vital for long-term recovery.

Family Therapy. Addiction doesn’t just affect the individual; it impacts the entire family. That’s why NuLife rehab centers include family therapy in its comprehensive treatment plan, involving your loved ones in the recovery process to help heal relationships and provide additional support.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps individuals identify and change harmful reflexive thought patterns contributing to addiction. It’s one of the most widely used therapies for treating addiction.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). This form of therapy is particularly useful for individuals with dual diagnoses and focuses on emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.

Motivational Interviewing. This client-centered approach helps individuals find the internal motivation to change their behavior, which is particularly effective in treating addiction.

Experiential Therapy. Methods like art therapy, music therapy, or adventure therapy help individuals express themselves and confront their emotions in a safe and controlled environment.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). TMS is a cutting-edge treatment for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It’s non-invasive and can be performed on an outpatient basis. 

Relapse Prevention. This involves a range of strategies and therapies designed to help individuals recognize the signs of an impending relapse and take proactive steps to prevent it.

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