Prescription Drug Detox

If you think that you or a loved one may have an addiction to prescription drugs, you are not alone. Learning about the prescription drug detox process is the first step toward recovery before reaching out for help.

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At Help 4 Addiction, we can find the best local treatment detox centre for you. With treatment centres located around England and Wales, we can find the best treatment for your prescription drug addiction, helping you detox, overcome physical dependence, and deal with the physical aspect of addiction.

Whether you are addicted to sedatives, stimulants, opioids, or psychiatric drugs, we can point you in the right direction. We are in contact with inpatient treatment clinics (residential rehab), as well as outpatient rehab clinics for prescription drug dependence and drug addiction.

We can also help with alcohol addiction and illicit drug addiction to ‘harder’ drugs. This page will give you all the information you need about prescription drug addiction and the drug addiction detox process, giving you the knowledge you need to get the treatment you deserve.

Can You Be Addicted To Prescription Drugs?

Just like alcohol, nicotine (e.g., tobacco or cigarettes), and illicit drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and cannabis/marijuana, it is possible to become addicted to prescription medications.

However, many people make the mistake of believing that prescription drugs are safe because they are legal, but unfortunately, prescriptions can be abused, and prescription drug abuse can be just as dangerous as heroin abuse, cocaine abuse, or alcohol abuse.

Although it is possible to develop a physical dependence on a prescribed drug for a legitimate medical condition despite following instructions given by medical professionals, you are less likely to become addicted to prescription medications if you take them as prescribed.

Long-term use is more likely to lead to developing physical dependence and/or psychological dependence on prescription drugs.

This means that you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you go from a higher dose to a much lower dose or if you stop taking the drug completely using the ‘cold turkey method. Read on to learn more about the risk factors for prescription drug addiction.

Risk Factors for Prescription Drug Addiction

Although prescription drug addiction can affect anyone, there are certain risk factors that could make it more likely for you to develop an addiction to prescription medications.

One of the key risk factors for prescription drug abuse and addiction is your history of substance abuse. If you have been or are addicted to alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs, you may be more likely to become addicted to prescribed medication.

Another risk factor is a family history of addiction. If you have a family member who has a substance use disorder or issues with addiction, you may have inherited certain genes that could increase the likelihood of you developing addiction problems.

If you have mental health issues or mental health disorders such as depression, generalised anxiety disorder, or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), you may choose to take opioid painkillers or other prescription drugs to soothe the negative symptoms. Likewise, some prescription drugs used to treat certain mental illnesses can be habit-forming and addictive.

Prescription drug abuse tends to be more likely in young adults, with around 12% of people between the ages of 18 and 25 having taken prescribed drugs for non-medical reasons.

As well as your age, genetics, and personal history of drug abuse, your environment can also be a risk factor for drug abuse, drug dependence, and drug addiction.

This can include having somebody within your household use prescribed medication, abuse drugs, or live in an area where drug abuse is common. Peer pressure can increase your chances of developing an addiction to prescription drugs.

That being said, anybody can be at risk of addiction, whether prescription or illegal. Read on for some signs that you or a loved one may be addicted to prescription drugs.

How Do I Know If I’m Addicted to Prescription Medication?

Drug addiction can present itself in many ways and can impact pretty much all areas of your life. For example, drug abuse can impact your relationships, your finances, and your mental and physical health.

You may have different signs of drug addiction depending on the prescription drug to which you are addicted. That being said, here are some common signs of prescription drug addiction:

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Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is not the same as prescription drug addiction; however, both fall under the category of substance use disorder. Prescription drug abuse can include using prescription drugs in any way other than those recommended by your doctor.

Some forms of prescription abuse include:

Prescription drug abuse can have serious consequences and can even lead to death. If you take opioids, for example, you could be at risk of an opioid overdose, which can be fatal. Abusing prescription medications can leave you feeling unable to stop. We can help you seek treatment if you are addicted to prescription medication.

Some people may be addicted to prescription drugs without realising it; they only realise it if they stop taking the drug completely or go from a high dose to a low dose and begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms.

Common Prescription Drug Addiction

As we’ve established, many prescription drugs can be habit-forming and ultimately addictive. There are various different types of prescription drug addiction, including sedative addiction, opiate addiction, stimulant addiction, antipsychotic addiction, and antidepressant and antianxiety addiction.

Stimulant Addiction

Stimulant drugs may be prescribed to treat legitimate medical issues such as ADHD or narcolepsy. Stimulants work to increase your energy and attention, as well as make you feel more alert.

You may have heard of Concerta, Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine; these are all forms of prescription stimulants. However, using these drugs in the long term can lead to you becoming addicted to them, and misusing them could result in substance use disorder (SUD).

Opioid Addiction

When you think of opioids, your mind may automatically think of heroin. However, heroin isn’t the only opioid drug; many prescription drugs contain opioids.

Opioid drugs affect your central nervous system; they bind to the opioid receptors in your CNS to lower your physical reaction to pain, essentially acting as a pain reliever. Opioids can be prescribed for acute and chronic pain, making them effective painkillers.

Some opiate-based painkillers include Morphine, Tramadol, Codeine, Oxycodone/Oxycontin, and Hydrocodone. Being addicted to opioids could also put you at risk of having an opioid overdose.

If this occurs, seek medical assistance immediately and treat it as a medical emergency. You may be given Naloxone – an opioid antagonist that works to reverse an opioid overdose and block the effects of other opioids.

Sedative Addiction

Frequent and excessive sedative use can lead to your becoming addicted to sedative drugs. Commonly prescribed sedative drugs include diazepam and benzodiazepines, and these can be highly addictive drugs. Sedatives work to relax your muscles and relieve feelings of extreme anxiety.

Tranquilisers and some hypnotics can fall into the category of sedatives; prescription medications such as Xanax or Ambien can treat generalised anxiety disorder and problems with sleep.

Psychiatric Drug Addiction

Psychiatric drugs can also be addictive. Some commonly prescribed psychiatric drugs include certain antidepressants and antianxiety medications. If you stop taking prescribed antidepressants after long-term use (especially on a higher dose), then you may experience antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. This can have an impact on your mental and physical health.

What is a Detox?

Detoxification can be a difficult stage in the drug addiction treatment process, whether it’s for alcohol addiction, nicotine addiction, illicit drug addiction, or prescription drug addiction.

The detoxification process is the stage where you break your physical dependence on a drug. It is aimed at managing intoxication and withdrawal—clearing the drugs from your body. During this stage, you will minimise the physical damage that prescription drug addiction can cause to your body.

However, detoxification doesn’t deal with any social, psychological, or behavioural issues that can be related to substance abuse or prescription drug addiction.

The drug addiction process can be unpleasant and can sometimes be dangerous, which is why, for more severe drug addictions, we recommend that you undergo drug detox at a prescription drug rehab centre. In some instances, quitting cold turkey can be dangerous and even deadly. This is why your symptoms will be assessed before being admitted.

The type of detox that will work best for you depends on multiple factors and clinical judgment may be required. Your personal circumstances, lifestyle, and preferences will be taken into consideration, as well as your drug abuse history and the degree of your drug dependence. You will usually be required to disclose any mental health problems or other health issues before being admitted to a drug treatment program.

There are a variety of detox methods, including medically assisted detox, outpatient drug detox, private home detox, and cold turkey. Some are more effective than others.

Types of Drug Detox

There are different methods when it comes to drug detox treatment, whether it be inpatient treatment or outpatient treatment. The treatment that you will receive depends on the severity of your drug addiction, the drug you’re addicted to, and personal factors such as your age and personality type.

A personalised treatment plan is always the best way forward when it comes to drug detox; one size does not fit all.

Medically Assisted Drug Detox / Inpatient Drug Detox

Inpatient drug detox is one of the most common methods of detox, and as expected, it takes place in a residential facility with medical assistance. You can withdraw from prescription drugs safely with medical assistance, which is beneficial if you have a severe prescription drug addiction and may experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

One of the reasons that inpatient rehab is so popular is because you are in a new environment away from the temptations of your previous environments. You will be regularly monitored, as some withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous, and medical supervision may be recommended.

You will usually attend drug rehab, such as therapy, in the same building, meaning that you will live, sleep, and eat in the rehab centre until your treatment is over.

Outpatient Drug Detox

Some people prefer to detox from drugs in the comfort of their own homes; however, this is only really recommended for milder addictions.

Because you remain in an environment where you become addicted to drugs, you may face temptations and struggle to detox effectively. However, outpatient detox programs may work for you with the support of medical health professionals and addiction specialists.

Cold Turkey

Withdrawing from prescription drugs cold turkey is not always the best option; instead, it may be a better option to lower your dose. Quitting cold turkey can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms that can be unpleasant, uncomfortable, and even dangerous.

Rapid detox can be hard on your body and have psychological effects; instead, know that there is help out there to get you free of your prescription drug addiction in a safer and more effective way.

Detoxing benzodiazepine and opiates can be high-risk, and you are best off detoxing from these drugs in a controlled environment, such as an inpatient detox/medical detox.

Withdrawing From Prescription Medication

Withdrawing from prescription medication can affect you mentally and physically. You may experience withdrawal symptoms when lowering your usual dose or if you stop taking the prescription tablets.

The withdrawal symptoms you may experience with prescription medication can vary depending on the drug; however, we have listed some of the most common prescription drug withdrawal symptoms. Read on for some of the most common withdrawal symptoms.

Depressant Withdrawal Symptoms

Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms

Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

The first stage of the prescription drug addiction treatment process involves detoxing from the drug. Once you have successfully completed the detoxification process, you may move on to the next stage of rehab.

The next stage of rehab treatment for prescription drugs typically involves therapy, whether it be behavioural therapy, talking therapy, or counselling. There are different forms of therapy that you may be offered during prescription drug rehab.

For example, you may be offered CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). This can help you to recognise, avoid, and cope with certain situations. CBT is based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, and actions are connected and that you can work to break a cycle of negative behaviour.

Another form of therapy is motivational interviewing or motivational incentives, which can encourage you to change your behaviour regarding drugs. Multidimensional family therapy is designed for teenagers or adolescents who have substance use issues and involve their families.

This can address the influences of their drug abuse patterns and is designed to improve the functioning of a family. CBT can treat mental disorders such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression – but it can also be used to treat addiction.

Some private rehab centres offer alternative therapies, such as holistic therapy. This can involve sports therapy and art therapy, as well as meditation sessions to promote mindfulness and general well-being.

Once you finish rehab, your treatment and care don’t have to end. Most rehab centres offer secondary treatment, also known as aftercare. This can help ease the transition back into your normal life and society. Some forms of secondary treatment include counselling, support groups, and group therapy.

Some people also benefit from joining ‘step programs’. The ultimate aim of prescription drug addiction treatment is to remove physical dependence, build strength, confidence, and well-being, and prevent relapse.

About Author

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV. He is the founder and CEO of a drug and alcohol rehab center called Help4addiction, which was founded in 2015. He has been clean himself since 2009 and has worked in the Addiction and Rehab Industry for over a decade. Nick is dedicated to helping others recover and get treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. In 2013, he released a book ‘The Thin White’ line that is available on Amazon.

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