People who are addicted to prescription drugs also become psychologically dependent, experiencing drug cravings and compulsive drug-seeking behavior. They continue to abuse prescription medications despite negative effects on their health, career, relationships and finances.
Prescription drug addicts may find themselves stealing drugs from other people’s medicine cabinets, forging prescriptions or visiting multiple doctors to obtain more drugs. Although prescription drugs are legal when taken as prescribed for a valid medical purpose, when abused they are just as dangerous as illegal drugs.
Opioids, such as some prescription pain medications or heroin, attach to the opioid receptors in the brain, which stimulate the release of dopamine and produce pleasurable feelings. When the opioid eventually detaches from the receptors, people experience withdrawal and cravings and have a strong need to repeat the experience. The need to satisfy cravings or avoid withdrawal can be so intense that people who want to stop taking opioids find this difficult to do. They may find themselves doing things they would not ordinarily do in order to obtain more of the drug they crave. For this reason, even though opioid dependence is a medical condition and not a moral failing, it can drive behavior.ff