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If you think that you or a loved one is addicted to prescription drugs, you’re not alone. Almost 12 million people take prescription drugs in the UK and are struggling to stop, which equates to almost a quarter of the population.

Taking the first step towards treatment is important with any addiction – including prescription drug addiction. However, with so many rehab centres located all around the UK, it can be tough to find the best treatment facility for you.

This is where we can help. At Help4Addiction, we can find the right prescription drug rehabilitation for you, considering your preferences, circumstances, and requirements.

This page will tell you all you need to know about prescription drug addiction including the main types as well as what to expect from the drug addiction process.

Types of Prescription Drugs

Prescription drugs are prescribed for legitimate medical conditions, whether it be for the flu, pain, depression and anxiety, or many more. However, when talking about prescription drug addiction, we aren’t talking about Ventolin inhalers or folic acid tablets.

We’re talking about addictive medications such as stimulants, sedatives, opiates, antipsychotics, and antidepressant and antianxiety tablets. Read on to learn more about these core groups of addictive prescription medications.

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Stimulant drugs work to increase your energy and attention levels, which is why they may be prescribed to treat medical issues such as narcolepsy or ADHD. Some commonly prescribed stimulants include Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta and Dexedrine.

Although these drugs are safe if taken as prescribed, it is possible to abuse these medications and become addicted. Prescription drug misuse can lead to substance use disorder (SUD) with any drug, including stimulants.


Opioids work by affecting your central nervous system, binding to the opioid receptors in your central nervous system to lower your body’s physical reaction to pain. Although many people think of heroin when they think of opioid drugs, opiates can also be prescribed.

Opioid drugs can be prescribed for pain – both acute and chronic pain. Some common opiate-based prescription painkillers include Codeine, Oxycodone/ Oxycontin, Hydrocodone, Morphine and Tramadol.

Abusing opioids can be deadly, and can put you at risk of an opioid overdose. If you think that you or somebody you know is having an opioid overdose, seek medical assistance immediately as it is considered a medical emergency. In many opioid cases, people are given Naloxone. Naloxone/ Suboxone is an opioid antagonist that reverses the effects of opioids.


Sedatives work to relax your muscles, and can also relieve feelings of anxiety. Some sedatives that are commonly prescribed include benzodiazepines as well as diazepam.

Using sedatives frequently for long periods of time can lead to you developing a dependence and sedative drug addiction. Some other drugs in the same category include tranquilisers and some forms of hypnotics. You may be prescribed Xanax or Ambien to relieve sleep problems or to treat generalised anxiety disorder.

Psychiatric Drugs

Psychiatric drugs are prescribed for mental health conditions and can include antidepressants and antianxiety medications. They can be addictive – especially when taken for long periods of time on a higher dose.

This means that if you stop taking prescribed psychiatric drugs after a long time, you may experience a combination of physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. In the case of antidepressants, this is known as antidepressant discontinuation syndrome.

Prescription Drug Addiction Explained

Just like illicit drugs such as cocaine and heroin, as well as nicotine and alcohol, prescription medication can be addictive. Many people are under the impression that prescription drugs are safe and you can’t get addicted to them – unfortunately, this is not the case. Prescription drugs can be just as addictive as other drugs and substances – especially when it comes to drug abuse.

It is possible to develop a physical dependence on prescription drugs even if they are prescribed for a legitimate medical condition and you follow the advice given by a medical health professional. However, you’re less likely to develop an addiction if you take the drugs as prescribed.

Long-term use of prescription drugs can lead to you developing physical dependence and/ or psychological dependence. This means that when you stop taking them or go from a high dose to a lower dose, you may experience withdrawal symptoms.

The withdrawal symptoms will likely be worse if you quit them cold turkey, which is why in many prescription drug rehab centres, you will come off them (detox) slowly.

The main types of prescription drugs that people get addicted to include sedatives, opiates, stimulants, antipsychotic medications, antidepressants and antianxiety medications. Read on to learn about prescription drug abuse, and how serious it can be.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is not the same as prescription drug addiction – although they both fall under the category of substance abuse disorder.

Prescription drug abuse involves taking prescribed medications in any way other than being told by the doctor. This can include:

Abusing prescribed medication can have many negative (and serious) consequences – and the effects can vary depending on the severity of the drug abuse and the type of drug. For example, abusing opioids can lead to opioid overdose, which can be fatal.

Some people that are addicted to prescription medications aren’t aware of their addiction until they stop or they lower their dose and begin to experience symptoms of withdrawal.

If you abuse prescription medication and can’t stop, or you think you may have an addiction, seeking treatment is the best thing you can do.

Read on to find out what to expect from the drug addiction treatment process, from detoxification to secondary treatment/ aftercare. We’ll also explain in more detail how our team at Help4Addiction can help you overcome addiction.

Prescription Drug Addiction Risk Factors

Prescription drug addiction is a complex condition that can develop for a variety of reasons. While not everyone who uses prescription drugs will become addicted, certain risk factors can increase the likelihood of addiction.

Some of these risk factors include a personal or family history of addiction, chronic pain or illness, untreated mental health disorders, social isolation, and a history of trauma or abuse.

Additionally, factors such as age, gender, and socio-economic status may also play a role in the development of prescription drug addiction. Understanding these risk factors can help individuals and their loved ones identify the signs of addiction and seek treatment before the problem becomes more severe.

Prescription Drug Addiction Signs and Symptoms

Prescription drug addiction is a complex and often hidden problem that can develop gradually over time. It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction so that you can get help for yourself or a loved one before the addiction becomes too severe.

One of the most common signs of prescription drug addiction is a strong, compulsive urge to use the drug even when it’s no longer necessary or when it’s causing significant harm. Other signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction may include:

t’s important to note that not everyone who uses prescription drugs will become addicted, but those who have a personal or family history of addiction, have experienced trauma or stress, or have a mental health disorder may be at a higher risk for developing an addiction.

If you or a loved one is experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, seeking professional help for prescription drug addiction is crucial for successful recovery.

Prescription Drug Addiction in Older Adults

Prescription drug addiction is a growing problem among older adults, particularly those aged 65 and older. As people age, they may experience more chronic health conditions that require medications, making them more susceptible to prescription drug abuse and addiction.

Additionally, older adults may experience loneliness, depression, and other mental health issues, leading them to turn to prescription drugs as a way to cope. The signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction in older adults may be different from those in younger people.

Older adults may be more likely to hide their addiction due to the stigma surrounding substance abuse, making it difficult for loved ones to recognize the problem. Common signs of prescription drug addiction in older adults may include changes in sleep patterns, increased isolation, neglecting personal hygiene, and forgetfulness.

It is important for older adults who are struggling with prescription drug addiction to seek help. Older adults may benefit from a specialised addiction treatment program that takes into account their unique needs and challenges.

This may include a medical detoxification process, counselling and therapy, and ongoing support to help them maintain sobriety and prevent relapse. Family and community support can also play an important role in helping older adults overcome prescription drug addiction and live a healthier, more fulfilling life in recovery.

Prescription Drug Addiction and Co-Occurring Disorders

Prescription drug addiction often co-occurs with mental health disorders, and these co-occurring disorders can complicate treatment and recovery. Many individuals with prescription drug addiction also struggle with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or other mental health conditions.

These disorders can contribute to the development of addiction, and may also make it more challenging to overcome the addiction.

Dual diagnosis treatment is often necessary for individuals with co-occurring disorders, as it addresses both the addiction and the underlying mental health condition. This integrated approach can lead to more successful and sustained recovery outcomes.

Prescription Drug Addiction Recovery and Support Groups

Prescription drug addiction recovery can be a challenging process that requires ongoing support and resources.

Support groups can provide individuals in recovery with a safe and supportive community of peers who understand the struggles of addiction and can offer encouragement, guidance, and accountability.

Some examples of prescription drug addiction support groups include Narcotics Anonymous (NA), which is a 12-step program that focuses on achieving and maintaining sobriety, and SMART Recovery, which is a science-based program that emphasises self-empowerment and cognitive-behavioural techniques to manage addiction.

In addition to support groups, individuals in recovery may benefit from continuing therapy, medication-assisted treatment, and aftercare programs to help prevent relapse and maintain long-term sobriety.

Overcoming Barriers to Seeking Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

Overcoming barriers to seeking prescription drug addiction treatment is crucial for individuals struggling with addiction to get the help they need. One of the biggest barriers is the stigma surrounding addiction, which can cause individuals to feel ashamed and reluctant to seek help.

Another barrier is the fear of withdrawal symptoms, which can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Financial concerns may also prevent some individuals from seeking treatment, as rehab can be expensive.

Access to treatment can also be an issue for those in rural areas or areas with limited resources.

Overcoming these barriers may involve seeking support from loved ones, finding affordable treatment options, and exploring resources in the community, such as support groups or sliding-scale clinics.

It is essential to address these barriers to ensure that individuals struggling with prescription drug addiction have access to the help they need to recover.

Overcoming barriers to seeking prescription drug addiction treatment is crucial for individuals struggling with addiction to get the help they need. One of the biggest barriers is the stigma surrounding addiction, which can cause individuals to feel ashamed and reluctant to seek help.

Another barrier is the fear of withdrawal symptoms, which can be uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Financial concerns may also prevent some individuals from seeking treatment, as rehab can be expensive.

Access to treatment can also be an issue for those in rural areas or areas with limited resources.

Overcoming these barriers may involve seeking support from loved ones, finding affordable treatment options, and exploring resources in the community, such as support groups or sliding-scale clinics.

It is essential to address these barriers to ensure that individuals struggling with prescription drug addiction have access to the help they need to recover.

Holistic Approaches to Prescription Drug Rehab

Holistic approaches to prescription drug rehab focus on treating the whole person, including their physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

These approaches acknowledge that addiction affects not only the body, but also the mind and spirit, and that a comprehensive approach is necessary for successful recovery.

Holistic prescription drug rehab programs may include a range of therapies, such as acupuncture, massage, yoga, meditation, and nutritional counselling.

These therapies can help individuals manage physical withdrawal symptoms, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall health and well-being.

In addition to traditional therapy and counselling, holistic prescription drug rehab programs may incorporate alternative treatments, such as art therapy, music therapy, and equine therapy, to help individuals explore their feelings and emotions in a safe and supportive environment.

The Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment Process

Taking the first step into treatment can be daunting – but the more you know about it, the more prepared you’ll be. The prescription drug addiction treatment process can vary from clinic to clinic, although most rehab centres begin treatment with detoxification, move on to the therapy stage of treatment, and finish with secondary treatment (aka aftercare).

The amount of time you spend in rehab can vary depending on a variety of factors – for example, the severity of your addiction and the prescription drug you’re addicted to. At Help4Addiction, we can find you a 7-day rehab treatment plan, a 14-day plan, a 28-day plan, or an even longer extended rehab program.

It’s not just the length of treatment that can vary – the type of treatment can also vary. The three main forms of prescription drug rehab include residential rehab/ inpatient rehab, quasi-residential rehab, and outpatient rehab. Read on to learn about the addiction treatment process in more detail, from start to finish.

Prescription Drug Detoxification

The first stage of addiction treatment, for both prescription drug addiction and illicit drug addiction (e.g heroin addiction), involves detoxing from the drug or substance.

A drug detox aims at dealing with the physical aspects of addiction and minimising the damage caused by addiction. This stage doesn’t deal with the psychological, behavioural, or social aspects of addiction – and focuses solely on the physical addiction.

During the detoxification stage, you may experience uncomfortable symptoms. When it comes to severe drug addictions, you may be better off opting for a medically supervised detox at a residential rehab facility.

Some prescription drug addiction detoxes can be dangerous, which is why you’re better off detoxing with medical assistance (medically assisted detox).

The severity of your symptoms can vary depending on your drug use history, drug abuse history, and personal factors such as your height and weight. In medical detox, you may be given detox medication to deal with some of the more uncomfortable symptoms.

For example, if you are detoxing from opioids, you may be given a substitute drug such as methadone. This can ease the withdrawal process and help you manage the withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. It can also prevent you from buying street drugs, which can be dangerous.

Prescription Drug Addiction Therapy

After successfully detoxing from prescription drugs and your symptoms of withdrawal are under control, you may move on to the next stage of your prescription drug addiction treatment plan. This is because therapy works to deal with the psychological and behavioural aspects of addiction rather than the physical aspects of addiction.

Therapy aims not only to improve your confidence and general well-being but aims at giving you a further understanding of yourself and your addiction – for example, your triggers or any root causes of your addiction.

Different treatment centres offer different therapy facilities – and some may have more options than others. For example, private rehab facilities tend to offer more options such as holistic therapies (e.g art therapy or sports therapy).

Some common forms of therapy in rehab include:

Cognitive behavioural therapy is one of the most common forms of addiction therapy. It is a talking therapy based on the concept that your thoughts, feelings, actions and physical sensations are connected, and that you can work to break negative cycles and patterns.

Secondary Treatment For Prescription Drug Addiction

The transition when leaving rehab and returning back to your everyday life can be a tough one, which is why so many people decide to receive secondary treatment. The aim of secondary treatment is to provide support after completing rehab, with the ultimate goal being to prevent relapse.

There are many forms of aftercare – some people will choose to attend group therapy, whereas others prefer one-to-one support with a counsellor. Many people choose to attend local support groups – for example, Narcotics Anonymous. Secondary treatment is a great way of staying drug-free.

At Help4Addiction, we can locate the right secondary treatment for you to help you live a drug-free life, whether it be for prescription drug addiction, alcohol addiction, nicotine addiction, or illicit drug addiction.

Finding The Right Prescription Drug Rehab For You

We understand that it can be difficult taking that first step into rehab. This is why we work to find the right treatment plans and treatment centres for those with addiction.

It isn’t just prescription drug rehabilitation that we can help you find – we have connections with rehab clinics across England and Wales that can treat cocaine addiction, heroin addiction, cannabis addiction, nicotine addiction, alcohol addiction, and many more.

Contact our friendly and dedicated team today to discuss your treatment options. Whether you’re looking for an inpatient rehab clinic, outpatient rehab clinic, NHS-operated rehab or private rehab, we can find the right rehab for you and your circumstances.

Get the ball rolling today and contact us to start the admissions process and begin your addiction recovery journey.

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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