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.
At Help4Addiction, we can find the best local treatment 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 and overcome the 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?
However, many people make the mistake of believing that prescription drugs are safe as 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 a medical health professional, 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 you 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 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 anybody, 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 that had 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 to 25 having taken prescribed drugs for non-medical reasons.
As well as your age, genetics, and personal history with 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 using prescribed medication or abusing drugs or living in an area where drug abuse is common. Peer pressure can increase the chances of you developing an addiction to prescription drugs. [i]
That being said, anybody can be at risk of addiction, 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, as well as your mental and physical health.
You may have different signs of drug addiction depending on the prescription drug that you are addicted to. That being said, here are some common signs of prescription drug addiction.
- Buying prescription drugs online or through drug dealers
- Asking friends to take their prescription drugs
- Hiding your drug use from friends and family
- No longer partaking in activities you once enjoyed
- Asking the doctor or your GP for prescriptions you don’t need
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 recommended by your doctor.
Some forms of prescription abuse include:
- Taking more than recommended by your doctor
- Taking the drug more frequently than recommended
- Mixing prescription medication with illicit drugs, other drugs, and alcohol
- Crushing up tablets/ pills to snort
- Taking prescription drugs to experience a high [ii]
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 – 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. Read on to learn more about these different prescription drug addictions.
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). [iii]
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.
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. [v]
Frequent and excessive sedative use can lead to you 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 medication such as Xanax or Ambien can treat generalised anxiety disorder and problems with sleep. [vi]
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, and prescription drug addiction.
The detoxification process is the stage where you break the 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. [vii]
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 judgement may be required. Your personal circumstances, your lifestyle, and preference 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. [viii]
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 – read on to learn more.
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 be recommended depends on the severity of your drug addiction as well as the drug you’re addicted to, and personal factors such as your age and personality type.
A personalised treatment plan is always the best forward when it comes to drug detox – one size does not fit all. Contact us today to discuss your options, and read on to learn more about the different types of drug detox.
Medically Assisted Drug Detox / Inpatient Drug Detox
Inpatient drug detox is one of the most common methods of detox – and as expected, 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 home – however, this is only really recommended for milder addictions.
Because you remain in the environment where you became 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.
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. [ix]
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
- High blood pressure
- Feeling agitated
- Fever like symptoms
- Higher heart rate
Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms
- Vomiting and nausea
- Muscle aches
- Higher heart rate
Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms
- Sleep problems
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. [x]
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 that have substance use issues and involves their families.
This can address the influences of their drug abuse patterns, designed to improve the functioning of a family. [xi] CBT can treat mental disorders such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression – but can be used to treat addiction too.
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 wellbeing.
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 to ease the transition back into your normal life and into society. Some forms of secondary treatment include counselling, support groups, as well as group therapy.
Some people also benefit from joining ‘step programs’. The ultimate aim of prescription drug addiction treatment is to remove physical dependence, build your strength, confidence and wellbeing, and prevent relapse.