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Prescription Drug Treatment and Rehab

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Psychotherapist working with drug prescription addicted young man

Treatment for Prescription Drugs

Prescription drug addiction is a chronic and often relapsing brain disease. It causes compulsive drug-seeking behaviors and abuse despite harmful consequences. With the help of medical professionals and either inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation, you can achieve a successful end result.

How do I get off these drugs?

As they say, the first step to recover from an addiction is to admit that you have a problem. Beating an addiction requires a lot of commitment and determination. There is more than one option to get sober when seeking treatment for prescription drug addiction.

Keep in mind that what works well for someone else may not be the best solution for you. It’s important to do your research and find what works best for you and your particular situation.

  • Inpatient treatment – These programs can last from 30 days to 90 days or maybe longer. You have 24/7 care at these facilities and constant medical supervision.
  • Outpatient treatment – This option allows you to check-in with your medical professional on occasion and attend therapy treatments often throughout the week.
  • 12-step programs – These meetings are free to join and are located all across the country. Being around others with your same addiction can certainly help with the recovery process.
  • Alternative support groups – These programs base recovery on scientific principles and ongoing acquisition of knowledge.

What are my options for treatment?

While detoxing from prescription drugs, there are two main safe and effective options you have. You can either enter outpatient or inpatient treatment.

In most cases, inpatient detox is recommended in order to help patients avoid relapsing. Being in an inpatient facility guarantees constant medical supervision which can be extremely helpful during an emergency. Inpatient facilities are more expensive, but they provide room and board and around-the-clock care to make sure you safely and effectively recover from your addiction.

If you are detoxing from prescription drugs, you may opt for the outpatient treatment choice. This may be a good choice for those with a less severe addiction. Additionally, this is a less expensive option and allows you to keep a relatively normal lifestyle.

Both options are effective and certainly help with the detox process. Having someone along the way to help guide you and keep you on track is certainly something that someone going through withdrawal symptoms can benefit from.

Does treatment work?

The short answer to this question is yes. People who get treatment and stick with it can certainly beat their addiction. However, recovery doesn’t stop when you exit the treatment program. Relapse is a very real possibility and you can certainly suffer some setbacks.

People with addictions might get into treatment, slip up, and try treatment again. It certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. In order to beat an addiction, you have to work hard and be able to see that you can be healthy and happy without the effect of prescription drugs.

Withdrawal and Detox

What is withdrawal?

Withdrawal refers to the physical and emotional problems you experience if you are dependent on a substance, and then suddenly stop or drastically decrease your intake of that substance.

What are symptoms of withdrawal?

Withdrawal symptoms can vary significantly based on the type of prescription medication that someone is addicted to. The symptoms can differ based on how many pills are usually consumed, how often they are taken, and the degree to with the individual is addicted. Some of the most common symptoms of withdrawal are:

  • Shakes and tremors
  • Sweating
  • Bone and muscle pain
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Difficulty regulating temperature
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures

Additionally, there may be psychological symptoms that accompany prescription drug withdrawal:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Decrease in self-confidence

How long does withdrawal last?

Withdrawal generally begins a few hours after the last dose, or when the drug leaves the bloodstream. These withdrawal symptoms can last a few days, or even up to a few weeks. The most intense symptoms are likely to peak between the first and third days. Most of the symptoms are physical. While it may feel endless at the time, the good news is withdrawal does end, and you can certainly overcome your addiction.

Why does it happen?

Withdrawal happens because the addiction suppresses your brain’s production of neurotransmitters. When you stop taking the prescription drugs, your brain releases an extreme increase of adrenaline which causes the withdrawal symptoms.

Is it dangerous?

It is certainly not recommended to quit prescription drugs “cold turkey”. When someone does make the decision to better their lives and quit their addiction, there are ways to stop that are safe and will set you up to stay on the road to recovery.


Will it hurt?

While detox certainly isn’t a pleasant experience, it is absolutely the right decision to make. Unfortunately, the fear of detoxing can often keep people from entering rehab when they truly need it. Fortunately, if you are medically supervised and under the care of a physician during detox, the process can be a lot less stressful and a lot less painful.

What medications are used during medical detox for these drugs?

Fortunately, there are certain medications that can make the detoxification process much easier. Facilities will often prescribe medications such as buprenorphine (sometimes combined with naloxone, which is called Suboxone), naltrexone, or traditional therapies like methadone alone with 12-step programs.

Inpatient Drug Rehab

What is it like in rehab?

An inpatient rehabilitation facility is where you live full-time in the same place where you will receive therapy and treatment. Most facilities have 10-30 patients with twice the amount of staff. The patients at the facility are kept on a daily schedule that can vary weekly. After you safely complete detox, your treatment can begin.

Most inpatient facilities keep their patients on a daily schedule. Each patient goes through individual addiction therapy with an addiction counselor who will address the issues that led to the addiction in the first place. There may also be group therapy sessions at the facility. Some rehabs use a 12-step model for these groups, but not all.

Inpatient rehab also encourages families to go through therapy, too. Family sessions can help heal the damage the addiction has done to the family, as well as the addict.

But it is important not to think of these places like a hospital. Many inpatient rehabs offer much more than just therapy. Some facilities promote getting out into the community and attending pre-planned social events. Group gatherings help patients feel a sense of solidarity with the others in rehab.

How long will it take?

There really isn’t a set period of time that applies to everyone when it comes to rehabilitation. A lot of rehab facilities offer 30-day programs as a minimum treatment length. However, some places offer 60 days, 90 days, or even longer stays at their residential treatment centers.

There are certain variables that can affect the length of your rehabilitation process. The type of addition you have, your personal history with addiction, the severity of your addiction, and even possible coexisting mental or behavioral health issues.

Studies have found that the longer someone spends in a rehabilitation program, the longer their rate of long-term sobriety.

Ongoing Treatment

What is outpatient treatment?

Outpatient treatment is less restrictive than inpatient programs. If you choose the outpatient path, most facilities you work with will ask you to dedicate 10 to 12 hours a week on their campus. Most places require sessions that focus on drug abuse education, individual and group counseling and teaching addicted people how to cope without their drug of choice.

Outpatient rehab allows recovering addicts to remain at home during their treatment, which is great for someone who is uncomfortable outside their own environment. It prevents you from disrupting your daily routine and still allows you to be around family and friends.

Once I stop using, will I relapse?

It is important to remember that with the proper detox and lifestyle changes, relapse is fairly unlikely. However, it can be a possibility.

Relapse is a process, not an event. It can start weeks or even months before the actual event of relapsing. Make sure you have someone close that you can talk to about your fears of relapsing.

You will definitely need someone in your life that will support you and your new, healthy lifestyle. Also, you need to keep yourself mentally and physically strong. If your body isn’t healthy, you can start to feel exhausted and want to escape.

Can I afford treatment?

Of course, inpatient rehabilitation will be more expensive than outpatient rehabilitation. This is because the patient is provided with therapy, meals, lodging, and activities for an extended period of time.

Most 30-day programs cost anywhere from $2,000 to $25,000. However, check with your health insurance company to see if they cover any treatment programs. Also, most facilities offer payment plans that can allow you to pay off the balance as you go and make the cost more manageable.

When thinking about the cost of treatment, think about the cost of addiction. The drugs themselves are expensive. You can also lose productivity at work (not to mention losing your job), face criminal fines, and any medical bills for health issues that are associated with the addiction.

How can I stay sober?

Try distracting yourself. When you are thinking about reusing, do something that will occupy your mind for a bit. Go for a walk, or pick up a new hobby. Keeping your mind off your addiction is a huge help.

Make sure you have the “one day at a time” mentality. It can be very frustrating to think that the way you are feeling will last forever. It can be an overwhelming feeling that could lead to stress. Don’t sabotage yourself by thinking too far down the road.

What are my options after rehab?

It is important to have a game-plan after you are finished with rehab. Even though your program may have taken 30-90 days, sobriety is a lifelong process. It can be a scary transition back into the world after beating your addiction, but there are ways to keep yourself on the right path.

Sign up for individual therapy. Having someone to talk to that medically understands where you are coming from is a huge help. Also, maintain regular check-ups mental health professional. You can also attend 12-step meetings, or join an alternative support group. It may be very beneficial to know that there are others out there that understand exactly what you are going through.