assorted medication tables and capsules
Hand holding two brown pills

California, like the rest of the United States, has a prescription drug abuse problem. And it’s in denial.

The facts:

  • Six percent of Americans over the age of 12 abuse prescription drugs every year. That’s around 16 million people.
  • Twelve percent of those who abuse prescription drugs have an addiction problem. That’s about 2 million people.
  • Only 13 percent of those people acknowledge their addiction.

(Source: National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics1

The most abused prescription drugs in the United States?

Painkillers. Then opiates. Then sedatives. Then stimulants.

We’re experiencing a prescription drug epidemic, and it’s getting worse.

Doctors prescribe drugs for all kinds of reasons. Pain. Depression. Anxiety. The list is endless.

But some doctors overprescribe these drugs. Or patients take a higher dose than prescribed. Or take a drug for longer than recommended. All these factors can result in abuse. Then dependency. Then addiction.

Here at Windward Way Recovery, we’ve seen this scenario play out time and time again. A doctor prescribes someone a drug to reduce pain. Then that person abuses the drug and becomes addicted.

But it’s never the patient’s fault.

We believe there’s always a root cause that drives someone to abuse prescription drugs. It could be something that happened in their childhood. Or a recent traumatic event. Or a personality disorder. Or perhaps the person didn’t have enough knowledge about the prescribed drug.

That’s why we judge no one who walks through the doors of our California rehab treatment center. Every person who needs our help has a unique set of circumstances that led to their addiction problem.

What matters happens next:

  • How the person with a prescription drug addiction plans to change their life.
  • How that person starts their road to recovery.
  • How that person avoids relapse.

We help with those “hows.”

Our professional team of support workers, counselors, therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists has over 150 years of combined recovery experience. Many of us have abused prescription drugs in the past. Drugs like Adderall. Ambien. Valium. You name it.

That’s what makes us qualified.

Windward Way Recovery, part of the Zinnia family of brands, takes a holistic approach to prescription drug abuse recovery. We use evidence-based treatments that provide our patients with the tools and techniques to conquer addiction once and for all.

No judgments.

No preconceived ideas.

Just custom treatment plans based on the individual.

Here’s everything you wanted to know about prescription drug abuse but were too afraid to ask.

What Is a Prescription Drug?

A prescription drug is a medication that requires a prescription from a doctor or healthcare professional. You can’t buy these drugs over the counter.

Prescription drugs treat a wide range of conditions, from back pain to anxiety. Someone might receive a prescription for more than one drug. It all depends on their illness or condition.

The ten most prescribed drugs in the U.S. include

  1. Vicodin
  2. Simvastatin
  3. Lisinopril
  4. Levothyroxine
  5. Azithromycin
  6. Metformin
  7. Lipitor
  8. Amlodipine
  9. Amoxicillin
  10. Hydrochlorothiazide

Not all prescription drugs contain addictive ingredients. However, someone can become addicted to almost any drug when they develop certain habits that lead to psychological dependence. A person might feel like they need a specific drug to function. Or experience negative emotions when they stop taking a particular medication.

All of this can lead to addiction:

“Many people don’t understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs,” says the National Institute on Drug Abuse2 “They may mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will.”

Windward Way Recovery can help people understand why they become addicted to drugs. Our extensive knowledge helps substance users and their loved ones identify the signs and symptoms of prescription drug abuse. It’s the first step in the recovery process. Once someone learns the root cause of their addiction, they can develop tools that manage withdrawal and prevent relapse.

If you have an addiction to a prescription drug or know someone who has a prescription drug problem, contact Windward Way Recovery today for a 15-minute assessment. Email Windward Way Recovery or call (855) 491-7694 now.

What Is Prescription Medication Abuse?

Prescription medication abuse happens when:

  • A person takes a drug for a duration or at a dosage other than prescribed3
  • A person takes a prescription drug that belongs to someone else.
  • A person takes medication without a prescription.

Here are some examples of this type of drug abuse:

  • Someone receives a prescription to treat a back injury but takes a higher dose than the doctor suggests.
  • Someone gets a prescription for anxiety but continues to take the drug for longer than recommended.
  • Someone takes a prescribed medication that belongs to a household member.
  • Someone buys a drug on the black market without a prescription.

In these scenarios, someone might become dependent on a drug and develop an addiction. This is far more common than you might think, and many of the patients we see at Windward Way Recovery have formed dangerous habits that interfere with their day-to-day lives.

This kind of abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age or background. We have seen people from all walks of life develop a prescription drug addiction, and all have one thing in common:

They want to overcome their addiction for good.

We help them do that.

Our professional team can customize a treatment plan based on lifestyle, circumstances and experiences. These plans increase the chances of successful recovery and can reduce the likelihood of that person relapsing in the future.

We know the road to recovery is tough. But all of our team who abused prescription drugs in the past have conquered their addictions.

Now you or your loved one can.

If you have an addiction to prescription drugs or want to help someone who abuses this type of medication, contact us now. Email Windward Way Recovery or phone (855) 491-7694 for a 15-minute assessment.

Prescription Drug Abuse: How Common Is It?

Nearly 46 percent of American adults used a prescription drug in the previous 30 days, according to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics4 (NCDAS). Almost 10 million people abuse painkillers, 9.3 million abuse opioids, and 5.9 million abuse sedatives.

“The types of prescriptions people abuse most are classified as psychotherapeutic drugs. These are drugs that may be prescribed to aid mental, emotional, and/or physical health,” says NCDAS5 “Psychotherapeutic drugs are generally categorized as painkillers, stimulants, sedatives, and tranquilizers. [Around 60 percent] of prescription drug abusers use pain relievers.”

Prescription medication abuse has become a bigger problem in recent years. Doctors sometimes overprescribe drugs to patients, and many people don’t understand the link between these drugs and dependency and addiction.

“The reasons for the high prevalence of prescription drug misuse vary by age, gender and other factors, but likely include ease of access,” says the National Institute on Drug Abuse6 “The number of prescriptions for some of these medications has increased dramatically since the early 1990s.”

There are many reasons someone might develop an addiction to prescription drugs. These reasons include:

  • A lack of knowledge about a prescription drug.
  • Family history of substance abuse.
  • An underlying disorder that contributes to addictive behavior.
  • Past addictions to other substances, including alcohol.
  • Some psychiatric conditions.

Most Abused Prescription Drugs

Some of the most abused prescription drugs include:

  • Adderall: A stimulant that treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults. Over 75 percent of those who abuse stimulants use Adderall.
  • Ativan: A type of drug called a benzodiazepine that treats acute anxiety.
  • Morphine: An analgesic that treats pain. Morphine is available under various brand names, including Astramorph, Duramorph and Kadian.
  • Oxycodone: A highly addictive opioid that manages pain.
  • Ritalin: The brand name for a stimulant called methylphenidate used to treat ADHD. Nearly 25 percent of all those who abuse stimulants take Ritalin.
  • Xanax: The brand name for alprazolam, a benzodiazepine, that helps with anxiety and panic disorders.

What Are the Signs/Symptoms of Prescription Medication Abuse?

There are various signs and symptoms associated with the abuse of prescription drugs. These include:

Physical Signs/Symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Paranoia
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Slurred speech/slow speech
  • A lack of concentration
  • Pain
  • Changes in breathing
  • Memory loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Problems sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • An irregular heartbeat

Behavioral Signs/Symptoms

Someone with a prescription medication problem might:

  • Request their prescription early.
  • See more than one doctor about the same issue.
  • Have financial problems.
  • Experience mood swings.
  • Withdraw themselves from social situations.
  • Take frequent trips to the bathroom.
  • Experience relationship problems.

A person who abuses prescription drugs might find it difficult to hold down a job or maintain a relationship. Often, their dependency on a prescription drug becomes the focus of their life.

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Prescription Medication Abuse?

Withdrawal symptoms of prescription medication abuse include:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Dilated pupils
  • Body aches
  • Yawning
  • Goosebumps
  • Fluctuations in mood
  • Sweating
  • Shakiness
  • Seizures
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Fever
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Hallucinations

Prescription Drug Abuse Treatments

There are various treatments for prescription medication abuse. These treatments include:


Drug rehab provides those with prescription drug problems an opportunity to start a new life. When someone visits a rehab center, they learn techniques to manage their addiction and start the withdrawal process.

Not all rehab centers in California are the same. Substance users should choose one that offers ongoing support and a wide range of custom therapies based on their unique experiences. Otherwise, that person might not receive the recovery outcome they deserve.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab doesn’t require the substance user to stay overnight at a treatment center. Instead, that person can schedule a rehab program around their schedule, making it perfect for those with family or work commitments. A successful outpatient rehab program includes therapy, medication-assisted treatment, psychiatric services and medical care.


A licensed drug and alcohol counselor or counseling team can provide a substance user with individual, group or other therapy solutions that address the underlying cause of their addiction. A counselor can also help someone with a prescription drug addiction learn skills to avoid cravings and prevent relapse.


Detoxification is the process of gradually decreasing the dosage of a substance user’s prescription drug. The person might experience various withdrawal symptoms (like those listed above), so a professional should support this process.

Medication-Assisted Therapy

Sometimes, someone with an addiction to prescription drugs might require medication to ease the symptoms of withdrawal and reduce the chances of relapse.

Family-Based Therapy

A good rehab center also provides support for loved ones of those who have developed a prescription drug addiction. Family-based therapies support substance users during their most troublesome times.


Recovery doesn’t stop after someone completes rehab. It’s an ongoing process and one that will include many temptations and frustrations. That’s why someone with a prescription drug addiction should choose a center that provides aftercare. A good aftercare program might include frequent medical evaluations or the opportunity to live in a sober living home.

How Windward Way Recovery Helps

Prescription medication abuse is a problem we deal with every day. Our California treatment center for drug and alcohol abuse welcomes everyone who wants to start a new life free from dependency and addiction. We customize our treatment plans based on the type of prescription drug abuse, providing patients with a personalized program that increases the chances of recovery.

It’s what we’ve done for years.

Here are some benefits of visiting our treatment center:

  • We provide patients with the highest standards of care. We believe everyone should live a life free from addiction.
  • We provide ongoing support for loved ones of those who abuse prescription drugs. Our family therapies and other treatments identify the root cause of prescription drug addiction for more successful recovery outcomes.
  • Our private and intimate treatment center promotes respite.
  • We specialize in holistic, evidence-based treatments. These include group therapy, counseling, drug management and individual therapy.
  • We work with all major healthcare providers in the U.S., providing patients and their loved ones with financial peace of mind. You can verify your insurance plan here.
  • Our team has over 150 years of combined recovery time.
  • We specialize in co-occurring disorders that might influence a prescription drug addiction, such as bipolar and borderline personality disorder.

What People Say About Windward Way Recovery

We have an average review score of 4.5/5 stars on Google, making us one of the highest-rated drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers in California. Here’s what people say about our recovery solutions:

  • “A very great place to come for treatment. I think the staff is very good and open about changing the lives of suffering addicts and alcoholics so they can become productive citizens in society and live happy, joyous, and free lives. They are champions in this fight against the disease of addiction.” — Clarence P.
  • “Cardinal is a great place for addiction recovery. The staff here truly care about each individual. The daily classroom sessions are very informative. Case managers and therapists are here to help you through the process of recovery, but the individual has to be wanting it to exceed in sobriety. Getting the opportunity to go to outside AA and NA meetings is a huge plus along with the sober activities that are planned for the weekends. I personally feel that Cardinal taught me great tools to use in the next chapter of my life. I strongly recommend Windward Way Recovery for anyone willing to get sober.” — John G.
  • “I have gone through the 30 day PHP recovery group at Cardinal. The people there are amazing and really care about you. I cannot recommend this company enough. I love everyone there, and I owe them my life. If you struggle with drugs or alcohol, please contact them. You will not regret it. God bless.” — Joseph L.
  • “I am so thankful for Windward Way Recovery! When I finally made that call for help, I had reached my bottom. After drinking for 35 years, I had enough and knew I had to take this seriously. I felt broken and alone. The decision was not easy but necessary. I stayed at Cardinal for 30 days and felt so welcomed. Everyone I came into contact with at Cardinal was caring and made everything I was going through a little easier.” — Carol L.
  • “This is the only rehab I have been to and my second time in this rehab. I couldn’t be more thankful to them. They have really helped me with understanding the boundaries I need to have and taught me what it is like to be loved. There is a ton of love in this place from each and every staff member. They treated me like family and never judged me once! Thank you Windward Way Recovery for giving me the tools to turn my life around for myself and my son!” — Felicia L.
  • “This place is awesome. They have helped me out so much. Especially my caseworker, Megan. She helped me get so much accomplished. And Courtney did a great job running this program. I would like to thank Windward Way Recovery for helping me get my life together. I can’t thank this program enough. I love you guys.” — Shaun C.
  • “Great overall experience. I felt comforted with a whole team of experts supporting me along my journey.” — Jake J.

Windward Way Recovery specializes in prescription drug abuse treatment with an incredible range of programs that promote recovery. Whether you have a prescription medication addiction or know someone abusing these drugs, we can help. Just email our team or phone (855) 491-7694 for a 15-minute consultation.

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