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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Pill Popping

06/17/2004

Question:

If someone is sneaking around taking prescription drugs , not their prescription,illegally are they addicted?What ,if any effects would this have on their mood? This person is suppose to be taking anger management classes.

Answer:

 A person who is taking someone else's prescription medicine is not necessarily "addicted." It depends on many factors: is the medicine they are taking a medicine with addiction potential, such as an opiate or a benzodiazepine or a stimulant? If so, the person could certainly expect changes in mood consistent with the particular class of medicine she is taking. In very broad terms, opiates and benzodiazepines tend to cause low moods, and stimulants tend to cause euphoric moods. If the person is taking the medicine in a way that causes problems, and certainly "sneaking around" can lead to problems, then at the very least they are misusing the medication.

In order to make the diagnosis of addiction (or substance dependence), you would need more information about the person's tolerance to the drug, withdrawal from the drug, and loss of control over the drug.

For more information:

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Response by:

Christina M Delos Reyes, MD Christina M Delos Reyes, MD
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University