Addiction Helpline and Resource Center

Prescription Drug Treatment

prescription-drug-treatment-w150When quitting prescription medications after becoming dependent, it is important to take all the correct steps in order to ensure withdrawal symptoms are at a minimum. There are three major aspects of the treatment plan: detox, counseling and aftercare. Without the presence of all three, the risk for relapse is higher. It is safer to consult a drug rehab facility during the detox process because there are trained professionals there who understand the whole process. With their help, it is easier to control detox and stay as comfortable as possible. During detox, the individual is taken off the drug, usually “cold turkey.” During this process is when the symptoms of withdrawal occur. Counseling is where the major psychological issues are dealt with. After detox, one may be physically off the drug, but they still need it mentally. Aftercare usually consists of meetings to ensure the individual is still on the right path. There are two main approaches to drug rehab: residential and outpatient.

No single type of treatment will meet the demands of addiction for each patient. The type of drug used and the needs of each patient are elements that need to be taken into account when weighing the options of addiction treatment. Each option provides different components such as counseling, prescribed medication and multiple courses of treatment that, when combined strategically, have a higher rate of success for the addict.

Assessing Drug Treatment

The two main categories to be addressed when assessing treatment are behavioral and pharmacological. Behavioral treatments incorporate the aspects of individual counseling, group or family counseling, contingency management and cognitive therapies. These types of therapies can be help patients improve their personal relationships and ability to function in their everyday life without drugs. All in all, the aim is to teach people how to:

  • Function without drugs
  • Handle cravings
  • Avoid drugs and situations that could lead to drug use
  • Prevent relapse
  • Handle relapse should it occur

When administered effectively, achievement of broken addiction can happen.

Medication Drug Treatment

Depending on the type of prescribed drug that the patient is addicted to, medication can be prescribed to help with the overwhelming withdrawal symptoms. Opiate addiction, for instance, can be treated with medications. These pharmacological treatments counter the effects of the drug on the brain and behavior. Medications can be used to relieve the symptoms of withdrawal, to treat an overdose, or to help overcome drug cravings. Either or can be used and effective in some situations; however, research has shown that the partnering of both has proven to be more successful in overcoming addiction.

Opiate addiction has been treated with a synthetic opioid that blocks the effects of heroin and other opioids, eliminates withdrawal symptoms and relieves drug craving called methadone. It has been used successfully for more than 30 years. Other medications include LAAM, an alternative to methadone that blocks the effects of opioids for up to 72 hours, and naltrexone, an opioid blocker that is often employed for highly motivated individuals in treatment programs promoting complete abstinence. Buprenorphine, another effective medication, is awaiting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for treatment of opioid addiction.

Medical Detox

Central nervous system depressants, barbiturates and benzodiazepines, are prescription drugs that are better treated with a medical supervised detoxification. They must be gradually tapered off as withdrawal from these may be problematic. Inpatient and outpatient counseling that incorporates cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to be successful in helping individuals adapt to the removal of barbiturates, which focuses on modifying the patient’s thinking, expectations and behaviors while at the same time increasing skills for coping with various life stressors. Recovery support groups may also be effective in conjunction with behavioral therapy.

Other Drug Treatments

Stimulants, such as Ritalin, have not had any proven medications that help in the treatment of stimulant addiction. Antidepressants may be prescribed to help treat the symptoms of depression that can follow the early days of abstinence from stimulants. Detox from stimulants is the first step. Behavioral therapies often are proven effective for stimulant addiction and should be included in the detoxification process.

Prescription Drug Help

Users must overcome the myth that just because prescription medications are prescribed by medical professionals does not mean they’re safer to take. They will do damage if abused. Simply because they’re legal does not give a person liberty to use them at will. If addiction is present, prescription drug treatment is absolutely necessary. Depressants can eventually damage the lungs and the liver, and opioids are needed in ever larger doses to prevent pain. Either can be taken incorrectly and could lead to death.

If you or someone you know is involved with prescription drug addiction, please call our toll free number at (877) 571-5722 for help. We are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions on drug addiction and treatment.

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