Prescription Drug Addiction, Detox, & Treatment

Prescription Drug Abuse

The advancement of pharmaceutical medications has been beneficial in treating many illnesses and providing relief to millions of people across America and the rest of the world. However, there have also been great consequences for both individuals and our society as a whole. Opioids, Stimulants, and Sedatives (CNS Depressants) are the three classifications of prescription drugs that are widely abused and addictive. Americans who struggle with chronic pain, depression, and anxiety, among other conditions, often look to their physicians for help. Doctors are leaders in our communities, and they are trusted to have our well-being at interest. Unfortunately, the drugs they prescribe to help with these illnesses are often just a band-aid to the problem and may cause more long term harm than good. Many of these prescription drugs carry a risk of addiction and can lead to drug detox.

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these classes of drugs, what they are, and why they are a problem for our society.

prescription drug detox
prescription drug detox


Opioids are synthetic drugs derived from the Opium Poppy plant and they are considered narcotic drugs. Medically, these substances are often used as pain relievers. Doctors may prescribe a range of potential opioids to patients who come to them expressing and overwhelming and unmanageable amount of pain. Examples of prescription opioid drugs include. Methadone, Oxycodone (OxyContin), Percocet (Oxycodone with acetaminophen), Percodan (Oxycodone with aspirin), Meperidine (Demerol), Fentanyl (Duragesic), Hydrocodone with acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Vicodin), Hydrocodone (Zohydro ER, Hysingla ER), Hydromorphone (Dilaudid). Opiates are a similar form of these drugs where the active ingredient is naturally occurring. These substances include opium, morphine, and codeine.

All of these substances are highly addictive and contribute to the opioid epidemic that has been crippling America for decades. Medical detox and treatment is often necessary to help those who have been battling this form of addiction.


Stimulants are a class of prescription drugs used to manage conditions associated with attention and focus, such as ADHD. These benefit people with attention deficient by enhancing their cognitive function and sharpening their focus. However, they work by stimulating the production of dopamine, a naturally occurring hormone responsible for feelings of pleasure and enduce a sort of “high” upon entering the bloodstream. The high becomes a sensation that users seek, and can lead to addiction. Common examples of prescription stimulants include Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta, Desoxyn, Dexedrine, and Suprenza.

prescription drug detox

Sedatives/CNS Depressants

Sedatives are a class of drugs that do just that: they sedate the user. The level of sedation may vary depending on the exact drug, the dosage, and factors related to the individual taking the medication. Sedatives, or CNS Depressants, a prescribed to people who struggle with anxiety and sleeping disorders. They can have a calming effect on the user by increasing the presence of GABA, a neurotransmitter that slows activity in the central nervous system. As mentioned, the sedative effect can vary from simply making an individual relaxed to making them extremely drowsy. Individuals who are trying to escape feelings such as anxiety, fear, and depression, may abuse these substances to avoid these feelings for a little while. Xanax, Ambien, Valium, Klonopin, Mebaral and Nembutal are some common sedatives on the market.

Signs of Prescription Drug Addiction

Without any obvious signs, identifying early addiction to prescription drugs can be difficult. Day to day activities and routines might not change at all. In fact, the user may seem completely normal at first. However, things do eventually start to change and signs begin to present. When they do, it is important that the individual and there loved ones do not brush off the signs as something other than addiction.

General signs of prescription drug abuse include:

  • Ingesting dosages greater than what was prescribed by their doctor
  • An increased tolerance that leads to higher consumption to achieve desired effect
  • A desire to continue using the drug even after the original symptoms subside
  • Taking other people’s prescription medication or suspicious behavior to obtain medication
  • Exaggeration of, or creation of imaginary symptoms to obtain more medication
  • Isolation and withdrawal from friends, family and professional circles
  • Noticable mood swings and other irregular behavior
  • Lack of desire to experiment with non-pharmaceutical drug treatment options
  • Financial issues that may be the result of excessive drug purchases and use
prescription drugs

How To Detox From Prescription Drugs

Detoxing from prescription drugs can produce withdrawal symptoms just as severe as many illicit drugs. Consider whether it is going to be safe to detox from prescription drugs at home and if a treatment facility would be a safer option. How to detox your body from prescription drugs is not common knowledge and the process usually can be eased and more appropriately managed with the help of professional addiction treatment caregivers. What options are available at home and what level of support is reasonable to expect from loved ones during this time. Someone who is detox may be unable to care for themselves during this time, and it is best to be prepared for the worst.

Natural Detox Methods

There are a number of ways how to naturally detox your body from prescription drugs. These methods include nutrient-rich diets or detoxifying practices like yoga, massage, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. The most obvious method of naturally detoxing from prescription drug medications is just allowing time and rest to do its thing. Detoxing from some prescription drugs can be dangerous, but being patient and letting time pass while your body naturally detoxes is reasonable for those that simply produce uncomfortable symptoms.

Prescription Drug Detox Program Benefits

A prescription drug detox program is actually beneficial for anyone who is trying to overcome this type of addiction. This is because these programs can provide medical interventions when necessary, and provide physical and psychological barriers to lower the risk of relapse. Specific benefits include:

  • 24/7 monitoring
  • Medical interventions
  • Access to alternative therapies
  • Licensed addiction professionals
  • Individualized treatment plans

Symptoms of Withdrawal


  • Drowsiness, lethargy and/or random sleeping habits
  • Lack of desire to exercise
  • Shallow or poor breathing
  • Decreased libido
  • Cold and flu symptoms
  • Nausea and headaches
  • Poor hygiene
  • Bad decisions or Habits
  • Ignoring responsibilities
  • Difficulty with personal and professional relationships
  • Weight loss


  • Jumpy or over-energetic
  • Fast and excessive speech
  • High blood pressure
  • Constant alertness
  • High body temperature
  • Delusions and paranoia
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Erratic heart beat
  • Random sleep patterns


  • Drowsiness
  • Poor memory
  • Slurred speech
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Off balance or lack of steadiness
  • Poor coordination
  • Dilated pupils
  • Depression
  • Agitation
  • Paranoia
  • Aggressive behavior
detox symptoms

Detox Symptoms

In addition to being uncomfortable, the prescription drug detox process can be down right dangerous. Depending on numerous factors, the process may take days or upwards of a week or two. In some cases, the withdrawal symptoms can even turn deadly. These are all reason why it is important to see the help of a professional medical detox facility. Medications can be prescribed to ease the detox process, but this must be done so with professional care and close monitoring.

Prescription drug detox symptoms may include:

Effects of Prescription Drug Detox


  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Agitation
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Muscle cramps and discomfort
  • Chills and Sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and/or Vomiting


  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Depression
  • Muscle Pain and Discomfort
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Mood Swings
  • Loss of Appetite


  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Irregular Heart Rate
  • Increased Body Temperature
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations

Risks of Prescription Drug Addiction

When addiction goes undetected, the risks are astronomical. For many prescription drugs, the risk of overdose is very real. This is why identifying addiction and getting treatment as early as possible is critical.

The longer an individual uses a prescription medication, the greater a tolerance they may develop. This increased tolerance leads to increased dosages and almost inevitably dependence. Once this dependence is established and the drug is not available the withdrawal symptoms discussed earlier will begin with cravings and other uncomfortable conditions. The psychological dependency is significant and makes it a near impossibility to stop using, even if the desire is there.

Opioid Risk

One of the side effects of opioids is slowed breathing. In fact, it is possible for opioids to completely stop an individual’s breathing and cause death. Another potentially fatal size effect is that of an irregular heart rhythm. The drugs that fall under this category are also depressants which cause drowsiness and impaired decision making skills. An overdose is triggered when the user consumes too much of the opioid. They may do this thinking that more will improve the pain relieving effects, unaware of the real risk. In reality, an increased dosage does not always increase the efficacy but it does always increase the risk of fatal health complications.

opioid detox risk

Stimulant Risks

As a user increases the quantity and frequency of their amphetamine habit, they fall into a cycle of medicating and then crashing. Coming down from these drugs will often result in long episodes of depression, fatigue, anxiety and ultimately a craving for more. If a user makes the mistake of ingesting an extremely high dose of amphetamines, they are at serious risk of overdose which may lead to seizure, coma or even death.

Sedative/CNS Depressant Detox Risks

Sedative/CNS Depressant Risks

Sedatives present a high risk of accidental overdose. This can occur when a user ingests a first dosage, and then in a drowsy and confused state of mind, mistakenly ingests another dose. There is a fine line between the amount that allows one to sleep and the amount that can push someone over the edge towards death. Mixing sedatives with other substances like alcohol, other meds or heroin increases the risk of fatalities. This is never a good idea and the majority of these scenarios will often end in overdose complications or death.

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