Prednisone is not addictive but it can cause dependence to develop and withdrawal symptoms to occur. Learn more about prednisone to understand how the steroid works.

Prednisone is a non-addictive medication that is not commonly abused. It is unique because it can still cause dependency to develop and withdrawal symptoms to occur even if a person uses it exactly as prescribed.

Article at a Glance:

  • Prednisone is not addictive
  • Prednisone can cause withdrawal symptoms
  • If a person takes prednisone, they should ensure they taper off the medication slowly and do not abruptly stop
  • Prednisone and other steroids have many side effects

What Is Prednisone?

What is prednisone? It’s a synthetic steroid hormone used to treat a variety of medical conditions. Some of the most common disorders that it treats are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, autoimmune disorders, and nausea.

Is prednisone a steroid? Prednisone is a steroid hormone that mimics cortisol, along with other drugs that belong to the glucocorticoids class.

Hormones are signal molecules that can send messages to distant parts of the body. The term “steroid” refers to the type of molecule and its shape. Not all steroids are hormones, and not all hormones are steroids, but prednisone is both. It’s shaped like a steroid and sends signals to distant parts of the body like a hormone.

How do I take prednisone? Prednisone only comes as an oral formulation so it is taken orally.

What Is Prednisone Used For?

The most common prednisone use is to help with breathing during an asthma attack. Courses for asthma usually last between five to seven days and may or may not include a taper to help with withdrawal symptoms.

Other conditions that prednisone treats are:

  • Acute asthma
  • Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Bell’s palsy
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Gout
  • Multiple sclerosis

Is Prednisone Addictive?

No, prednisone has no addictive potential and there is no prednisone high. However, prednisone can cause dependence to develop, which means that stopping the drug produces withdrawal symptoms.

Since prednisone mimics natural hormones, the body adjusts to the extra hormones by making less. If a person takes prednisone for several weeks the body starts making less natural hormones to compensate.

Prednisone Dosages

The dose of prednisone ranges from 5 to 60 mg per day depending on:

  1. What prednisone is used to treat
  2. If prednisone was used previously
  3. How long prednisone was used
  4. Possible drug interactions

The most common tablet sizes are prednisone 5 mg, prednisone 10 mg, and prednisone 20 mg. There is no prednisone dose pack, unlike methylprednisolone — a similar steroid medication.

Prednisone Ingredients

Prednisone tablets contain only prednisone and other inactive ingredients to help the tablet form properly and keep its shape. The limited ingredients ensure that there are minimal interactions with other prescription medications.

Prednisone Warnings

Prednisone can produce many different side effects. If a person isn’t taking a short course of prednisone, they may never experience side effects, but for people taking prednisone long term, side effects can occur.

Side effects of prednisone use include:

  • Acne
  • Bulging eyes
  • Decreased libido
  • Dizziness
  • Excess hair growth
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Inappropriate happiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Personality changes
  • Slow healing of cuts and bruises
  • Sweating
  • Trouble sleeping

Prednisone Addiction Statistics

Since prednisone is not addictive, there are no addiction statistics. Prednisone is also not a controlled medication nor is it sold by illicit drug dealers.

Prednisone is not addictive, but many prescription medications are. If you or a loved one struggle with addiction, contact The Recovery Village to speak with a representative about how addiction treatment can help. You deserve a healthier future, call today.

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Editor – Thomas Christiansen
With over a decade of content experience, Tom produces and edits research articles, news and blog posts produced for Advanced Recovery Systems. Read more
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Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more

National Institute of Health. “DailyMed – PREDNISONE- Prednisone Tablet.” 2009. Accessed June 19, 2019.

National Institute of Health. “Prednisone: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” 2015. Accessed June 19, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.