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Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

The Prescription Drug Detox Process – Dealing with Prescription Drug Abuse

Written By:

Alex Kudisch

Man undergoing prescription drug detox

Some prescription drugs, such as stimulants, opioids, and antidepressants, can trigger the brain’s reward system, leading to physical dependence and addiction. According to a 2020 study on drug use in the United States, 59.3 million people struggled with drug abuse, including addiction to prescription drugs.

Prescription drug detox is usually the first step for those dependent on prescription medication before attending an addiction treatment program. It can help sufferers safely remove substances from their bodies to proceed with their addiction treatment.

Although drug detox is a critical initial step in recovery, many people experience severe withdrawal symptoms that can be unpleasant and even dangerous. This is why it’s essential to do your detox at a licensed, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) approved facility.

Why Is Prescription Drug Addiction Serious?

People who take prescription drugs are usually unaware of their long-term effects. A person can begin by taking a low dose of opiates every few days. They could gradually increase the dosage until they use it multiple times daily.

The user eventually develops a drug dependence. If the person attempts to quit taking the drug, they could experience severe withdrawal symptoms and may even develop the mental illness if left untreated. Other effects of this addiction include:

  • Kidney failure
  • Coma
  • Liver damage
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Seizures
  • Death

Indications That Someone You Love May Be Addicted to Prescription Drugs

Man sitting on the corner may be addicted to prescription drugs

If you think that your loved one may be struggling with prescription drug addiction, here are a few signs to look out for:

  • Dependence and persistent cravings for the medication
  • Changes in behavior or mood
  • Greater tolerance to the drug
  • Sleep disorders or irregular sleep patterns
  • Regular trips to the emergency room
  • An inability to focus
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Alcohol addiction or use to combat the symptoms of withdrawal
  • Spending money excessively
  • Clouded judgment
  • An obsession with a prescribed drug

When Is a Prescription Drug Detox Program Necessary?

Drugs on a prescription pad

Not every user of a prescription medicine needs to undergo medical detox, and a doctor can often work with you to gradually reduce the dose. Although they take the medication as prescribed, some people who receive sleeping pills, opiates, or other prescription medications still become dependent on them.

A medically supervised detox in a treatment center, with the assurance of a trained medical team of professionals, is usually beneficial for those with long-term dependence issues.

Those who abuse prescription drugs also require this type of detox. Abuse often involves exceeding a prescription’s recommended dosage or using medications without a prescription.

By doing a prescription drug detox, you can ensure that you’re clearing the medication from your system safely.

Which Prescription Drugs Require Detox?

White prescription drugs

After a time of misuse, any prescription drug that affects cognitive function or results in physical reliance should be flushed from the body using a medical detox procedure. Typical prescription medications that call for detox include:

  • Stimulant ADHD drugs such as Ritalin, Adderall, and Dexedrine
  • Benzodiazepines, including Valium and Xanax
  • Opiates such as codeine and morphine
  • Sleeping pills
  • Zolpidem, Zaleplon, and Zopiclone

Prescription Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

Understanding the potential side effects of prescription medication detox is helpful. While some side effects are common across all drug classes, others only appear when particular pharmaceuticals are used. The section below discusses some common withdrawal symptoms for commonly abused prescription drugs.


White round drug

Detoxing from benzodiazepines (benzos) can result in severe symptoms. Seizures and delirium are among the most harmful adverse effects. Elderly sufferers who receive treatment for benzodiazepine addiction are more likely to experience heart attacks.

A benzo detox typically entails gradually weaning yourself from the substances. This is because stopping the drug abruptly could result in severe withdrawal symptoms. The weaning process could last weeks or even months, depending on the previous benzo dosage.


White oval drug beside green prescription battle

Opiate withdrawal has some of the worst withdrawal effects of any detox treatment. Oxycodone, codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, and morphine used to treat severe pain are some examples of prescription opioids that are addictive.

These withdrawal symptoms are comparable to heroin withdrawal because they are in the same drug class.

An accelerated heartbeat, muscle and joint aches, nausea, perspiration, elevated blood pressure, anxiety, sleeplessness, and vomiting are a few examples. The specific medicine determines when withdrawal symptoms start during the treatment.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Drugs

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (adhd) drugs

Although less risky than detoxing from other prescribed drugs, amphetamine withdrawal can still be challenging. When people think of stimulants, meth and cocaine are frequently the first drugs that come to mind.

However, ADHD medications Ritalin and Adderall used to treat the condition are also stimulants that cause addiction.

Sufferers could experience anxiety, exhaustion, poor focus, and insomnia while detoxing from these drugs. The most significant concern, however, is severe depression.

It might result in suicidal thoughts that result in death or self-harm. When people stop taking their ADHD drugs, their depression frequently lasts longer than when they stop taking cocaine.


Doctor holding a blister pack handing it to the person in front of him

Patients suffering from severe depression, hyperactivity disorders, and sleep disturbances may be given stimulants.

The effect of the medicine on the neural system causes the body to release dopamine and other natural compounds, which increase alertness. Students often use stimulants as study aids to improve academic achievement.

When you stop taking stimulants, you could experience the following physical symptoms:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Suicidal thoughts and depression
  • Stomach pains
  • Tremors
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Aggression


Person wearing white shirt holding glass of water and green colored pill

Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to treat clinically diagnosed depression, but they are also abused for the euphoric effects they can produce.

Most often, teenagers with drug use disorders or mental illnesses misuse antidepressants. Antidepressant withdrawal has several potential adverse effects, like opiate withdrawal, including nausea, vomiting, tremors, dizziness, mood swings, and more.

How Long Does a Prescription Drug Detox Take?

The length of a treatment program depends on several variables, including the kind of substance you’re using and the degree of the addiction. Detox from pharmaceutical drugs can typically be completed in one to two weeks.

Moreover, it could take longer to safely wean yourself off the drug under a doctor’s supervision if you’re having trouble with benzodiazepine or opiate. This is especially true for benzodiazepines, which are misused more frequently and in higher doses.

What Is a Prescription Drug Detox Like?

Doctor wearing white lab coat

It can be challenging to stop the pattern of dependency, and prescription drug addiction often calls for professional help.

What Is a Detox Program?

Detox is often the initial step in most treatment regimens. It is the process of removing a particular toxin from the body. The detoxification procedure may differ based on the substance used, how long it was used, and how severe the reliance was.

Symptoms Will Differ from One Drug to the Next

The withdrawal symptoms may differ depending on the prescription drugs that are being abused. Benzo, opiates, and amphetamines are the prescription medications that we find being abused most commonly.

Because the withdrawal effects on the mind and body can be so severe, detoxing without the supervision of medical professionals often fails.

We understand that a medically assisted prescription drug detox program combined with counseling to address all facets of the addiction is the best way to ensure you are on the road to recovery.

Begin Your Journey to Recovery at Crestone Detox

At Crestone, we provide comprehensive detoxification treatments, including holistic therapies, under medical supervision. 

Our Austin prescription medication detox is supported by a team of experts committed to helping those suffering from addiction. We know that conquering addiction is no easy task, but we are sure that our treatment programs will support you in your long-term rehabilitation.

Contact us today to find out more about our prescription drug detox program.

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Alex Kudisch
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