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Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

Unfortunately, many prescription drugs have a high propensity for abuse and addiction. In fact, a study conducted in 2017 reported that an estimated 18 million people abused prescription drugs that year. Therefore, prescription drug addiction is extremely prevalent in today’s society. Additionally, attempting to cope with addiction is mentally, physically, and socially exhausting. Due to this, individuals suffering from prescription drug addiction should seek professional treatment.

Oftentimes, prescription drugs are easily accessed due to the overprescribing of medications and inadequate regulations. However, prescription drug addiction does not have to begin with a prescription. Sometimes, these medications are sometimes bought and sold illicitly. Individuals who suffer from addiction of any kind will experience physical, mental, social, legal, and even financial repercussions. Additionally, many people addicted to substances attempt to hide the signs of their drug use. Luckily, the altered behavior and the side-effects of addiction are easily recognizable.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Doctors use prescription medications to treat many different ailments. For example, ailments may range from reoccurring migraines to mental disorders like anxiety or depression. However, there are three types of prescription medications that are misused more frequently than others. These medications have the ability to be effective in treating certain disorders or ailments. However, stimulants, central nervous system depressants, and opioids, in particular, have an extremely high potential for abuse. Unironically, these are the most common prescription drugs people seek help for.


Stimulants are drugs that boost energy, increase focus, alertness, and attention. However, stimulants come with an array of negative side effects. For example, these side effects may include an increased heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. When used medicinally, stimulants are typically prescribed to treat Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) and sometimes depression. Stimulant medications have been proven to effectively treat disorders such as ADHD and depression. However, these medications have a high potential for abuse.

Commonly abused prescription stimulants include:

  • Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)
  • Dextroamphetamine/amphetamine combination product (Adderall)
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin, Concerta)

Prescription stimulants cause a rush of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. To explain, dopamine is the chemical responsible for feelings of reward. This makes stimulant substances extremely addictive. On the other hand, norepinephrine affects blood vessels, blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, and breathing. Unfortunately, individuals who abuse prescription stimulants continue using them to experience the rush of dopamine they are accustomed to. As a result, these individuals begin noticing negative side-effects as a result of the norepinephrine abuse.

Short term side effects of prescription stimulant abuse include:

  • Increased breathing
  • Increased blood pressure and heart rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Emotional and mood instability
  • Decreased blood flow
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Opened-up breathing passages

Central Nervous System Depressants

Central nervous system depressants (CNS depressants) are a form of commonly abused prescription drugs. To explain, these medications work to decrease brain activity and provide a sedative effect. While stimulants increase heart rate and blood pressure, CNS depressants have the opposite impact on the body. When used medicinally, central nervous system depressants treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Additionally, there are three types of CNS depressants. CNS depressants include benzodiazepines, non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics, and barbiturates.

Commonly abused benzodiazepines:

  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Estazolam (ProSom)

Frequently abused non-benzodiazepine sedative-hypnotics:

  • Zolpidem (Ambien)
  • Eszopiclone (Lunesta)
  • Zaleplon (Sonata)

Some of the most commonly abused barbiturates include:

  • Amytal (amobarbital sodium)
  • Nembutal (pentobarbital sodium)
  • Seconal (secobarbital sodium)
  • Luminal (phenobarbital)

Central nervous system depressants work by increasing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid. To explain, this chemical decreases brain activity. Individuals who abuse these medications become addicted to the calming and drowsy effect that these substances produce. However, there are many negative side-effects associated with the abuse of central nervous system depressants.

Short term side-effects of CNS depressant abuse include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Poor concentration and confusion
  • Lightheadedness or headache
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Problems with movement and memory
  • Lowered blood pressure and slowed breathing


Opioids are known as the most largely abused form of prescription drugs. Additionally, they are mostly used in the treatment of moderate to severe pain. However, this type of prescription medication has a high potential for abuse and addiction. In fact, our country is amid an epidemic, with opioid-related deaths tripling from 1999 to 2014. Individuals become addicted to opioids due to the intense “high” that most users report experiencing.

Commonly abuse prescription opioids:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana)
  • Morphine (Kadian, Avinza)
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl

Unfortunately, opioids have a high potential for abuse due to its effects on the brain. For example, opioids bind to opioid receptors, causing a rush of pleasure and releasing large amounts of dopamine. As a result, individuals become motivated to continue opioid abuse, leading to prescription drug addiction. While users receive pleasure from abusing opioids, they will eventually experience negative side-effects.

Short-term side effects associated with prescription opioid abuse include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Extreme euphoria
  • Slowed breathing

Prescription Drug Addiction: Tolerance and Withdrawal

To begin, the most concerning aspects of prescription drug addiction include the development of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. By definition, tolerance to a substance means the individual has to continually increase their dosage in order to produce the desired effect. This is caused by an individual’s body becoming accustomed to the particular substance of abuse.  As a result, individuals increasing the dosage of a medication they are abusing may also experience increased health issues. Additionally, the development of tolerance and withdrawal indicates addiction. Due to this, if you or a loved one suffer from prescription drug addiction – seek help immediately.

Prescription Drug Withdrawal

By definition, withdrawal is the mental and physical effects that result from the sudden removal of a substance from an individual’s body.  In other words, withdrawal is the act of the body attempting to acclimate in the absence of a substance. In addition, each substance of abuse causes differing symptoms. Individuals suffering from prescription drug addiction will experience some form of withdrawal symptoms. To explain, this includes the abuse of opioids, stimulants, and central nervous system depressants.

Opioid Withdrawal

When an individual is addicted to opioids, they will experience opioid withdrawal. Opioid withdrawal usually requires medical attention in order to safely stabilize an afflicted individual. While most cases of opioid withdrawal are not life-threatening, they are extremely uncomfortable.

For example, symptoms of opioid withdrawal include:

  • Anxiety
  • Muscle Aches
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia

Central Nervous System Drug Withdrawal

Central nervous system depressants also lead to an array of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Additionally, dealing with CNS drug withdrawal symptoms on your own can be extremely difficult. As a result, it is beneficial for individuals to seek out a professional medical detox program.

Central nervous system medication withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches

Stimulant Withdrawal

Stimulant withdrawal symptoms are thought to be less severe than other substances. However, the psychological aspect of stimulant withdrawal can be grueling. One of the most concerning symptoms of stimulant withdrawal is the prevalence of suicidal ideation due to depression. Consequently, individuals affected by stimulant addiction should not attempt to quit without the help of a drug detox center.

Prescription stimulant withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Low energy
  • Paranoia
  • Suicidal ideation/thoughts

Detox for Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction leads to dependency and therefore, symptoms of withdrawal. Due to this, individuals addicted to prescription drugs should attend a professional detox program. These programs are designed to aid patients throughout the process of detoxing their bodies from prescription drugs. During the initial phases detox, individuals begin experiencing physical and psychological side-effects. Additionally, the severity of withdrawal symptoms varies depending on a variety of factors. Due to this, detox programming plans are individualized based upon each individual patient’s need. Fortunately, any reputable detoxification program will provide medical care in order to alleviate negative symptoms.

Oftentimes, detox centers will provide medications that help to lessen withdrawal symptoms and stop drug cravings. In fact, opioids are typically treated through medication-assisted (MAT) detox methods. This form of treatment is effective because, when a patient’s withdrawal symptoms become manageable, they are able to fully focus on healing other aspects of their addictions. As a result, patients are provided with a strong foundation of recovery, allowing them to achieve long-term sobriety.

Get Help For Prescription Drug Addiction Today

Detox programs are designed as a first step in the recovery of addiction. Due to this, individuals should attend a professional residential rehab program after completing detox. During residential addiction treatment, patients are provided with a number of therapies. These therapies include individual and group therapy, addiction support groups, and continued medical treatment for any underlying conditions or diseases. Additionally, residential treatment is vital for those addicted to prescription drugs who have a co-occurring mental disorder. This is because residential rehab like South Carolina Addiction Treatment center emphasizes on psychiatric care.

“Our comprehensive, compassionate and unique treatment helps build a foundation for a healthy recovery and sober future. Clients at South Carolina Addiction Treatment undergo a personalized journey through one of our highly effective treatment programs. They’re specifically assigned to licensed mental health counselors, certified addiction professionals or master-level therapists who not only specializes in the issues they’re facing but is paired with them based on their needs. And clients experience the warmth and compassion of an entire staff that cares deeply about their success.”

If you or a loved one suffer from prescription drug addiction, we can help you. Addiction to any substance can be a lonely and difficult battle. Call us today to learn more about prescription drug addiction treatment.