Did you know that more than 66% of adults use prescription drugs in the United States? While these medications are prescribed to people of all demographics, seniors and people with chronic conditions comprise the most significant portion of users.

And while prescription drugs are necessary for treating chronic illness and alleviating pain, many of these medications can be easily abused, leading to addiction.

You may be wondering how to not get addicted to prescription drugs if you’re starting a new medication. Perhaps you have questions about whether you’re addicted or dependent on a medication you’re taking.

We’ll discuss precautions you can take if prescribed certain medications and how you can avoid addiction.

3 Ways to Prepare for Prescription Drug Use to Help Avoid Addiction

Do you need to know how to not get addicted to prescription drugs? Here are three ways you can prepare to use a prescription drug to help you avoid addiction and dependency. 

1. Familiarize Yourself with Addiction

Understanding addiction, including knowing the drugs that are more likely to lead to addiction, is your first line of defense against prescription drug abuse.

There are two most common paths leading to prescription drug addiction. In many cases, patients who use a medication over a prolonged period may find their original dosage no longer works as their bodies build a tolerance. As a result, a higher dosage is necessary to receive the same effect the drug once had.

In others, a patient may no longer need medication but continue using it to avoid intense withdrawal symptoms from drug dependency.

The three categories of most commonly abused prescription medications are:

  • Opioids: Painkillers comprise a large portion of commonly abused drugs, especially among patients with a chronic illness where long-term use may be necessary. At-risk opioid medications include:
    • Hydrocodone
    • Morphine
    • Codeine
    • Oxycodone
  • Stimulants: For treating depression, narcolepsy, ADHD, and ADD, stimulants are commonly prescribed because they boost energy, alertness, and attention. Stimulant prescription drug categories include:
    • Dextroamphetamine
    • Methylphenidate
    • Lisdexamfetamine
  • Depressants: Depressants are primarily used to treat sleep disorders and anxiety because they reduce brain activity and make patients feel tired or calm. These medications include:
    • Xanax
    • Valium
    • Ativan 

2. Know Your Dosage and Directions 

One of the most important precautions to take to not get addicted to prescription drugs is to know your dosage and directions and follow them to the letter. Here are some essential things to remember:

  • Don’t increase or reduce your dosage without consulting with your doctor.
  • Never take medication more often than prescribed.
  • Don’t crush or break up pills unless directed to do so.
  • Always avoid other drug or alcohol-induced interactions.

3. Maintain Honest Communication with Your Doctor

Be open and ask direct questions about medications your doctor prescribes, including whether or not these medications can become addictive. Additionally, you should always disclose any personal or family drug or alcohol abuse history with your doctor.

Get Help When You Need It 

Knowing how to not get addicted to prescription drugs and taking precautions while using these medications is crucial in avoiding addiction. However, sometimes addiction happens despite our best efforts.

If you believe you or a loved one has become addicted to prescription drugs, seek a professional counseling service. Discuss your concerns with them and learn what treatment options may be available.