Being mentally prepared to kick the habit of prescription drug abuse is a major step towards recovery, but it will take much more than this to get you over this hump. You may feel mentally strong enough to quit on your own or may have tried quitting “cold turkey” only to be faced with severe withdrawal symptoms that make you change your mind.
Addiction is a progressive condition that leads to changes in brain functions that work to keep you hooked and make it difficult for you to quit on your own. This is why professional treatment may be necessary to help you recover and reduce the chance of going back to drug abuse.
What is Prescription Drug Addiction?
Substance use disorder, or addiction, is the compulsive seeking and using of drugs or an addictive substance regardless of the harmful consequences. Drug addiction is not confined only to the use, misuse, or abuse of illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, or methamphetamine. It also includes dependency or addiction to prescription medication such as opioids, stimulants, or depressants.
Addiction to prescription drugs often occurs when these medications are used in a manner other than prescribed or by someone who was not prescribed these drugs. Abuse includes taking larger doses or more frequently than directed, using the drug for a longer duration, or taking it in another form, e.g., crushing a tablet instead of taking it whole. Whether you take the medication for the purpose of sleeping, relieving pain, staying calm, or merely for euphoria, long-term use often leads to addiction.
Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs
• Benzodiazepines (e.g., alprazolam and diazepam)
• Barbiturates (e.g. phenobarbital and amobarbital sodium)
• Dextromethorphan (DXM)
What is Addiction Treatment?
Professional treatment for prescription drugs involves a comprehensive treatment approach. It can be done as an inpatient (residential) or outpatient program. Program choice often depends on several factors such as the severity of the addiction, need for mental health treatment, and affordability. After evaluation and intake, treatment usually begins with detox and is typically followed by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). While detox rids the body of the drugs and toxins, therapy seeks to address underlying mental health issues and behaviors associated with drug abuse.
Getting treated inpatient simply means “living” at the rehab center throughout the duration of your treatment. People who are severely addicted often make good candidates for residential treatment. They usually undergo medically-assisted detox and are closely monitored by a physician and mental health professional who help them manage severe withdrawal symptoms. These include high blood pressure, heart palpitations, disorientation, hallucinations, abdominal cramps, depression, and seizures.
Some withdrawal symptoms may be life-threatening and can increase the risk of relapse or overdose if treatment is not medically supervised. Some inpatient rehabs also use FDA-approved prescription medications to help ease the symptoms while the patient is tapered off the addictive substance.
People who work, attend school, or need to care for family members are typically unable to undergo live-in treatment at an inpatient program. They can still access professional treatment outpatient. The program is structured to allow you to keep prior commitments while meeting with your physician and mental health therapist for a specified number of hours per day, several days per week. Those who successfully recover with outpatient treatment may have a lower level of addiction, are accountable and able to manage substance use triggers on their own, do not need medically supervised detox, and are less likely to quit treatment or relapse.
Benefits of Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment
Both inpatient and outpatient treatment are shown to be effective and provide a number of benefits, including the following:
• Help with managing withdrawal symptoms
• Treatment in a structured environment
• Treatment for mental health disorders
• Awareness of physical, mental, emotional, or psychological triggers
• One-on-one meetings with a professional therapist
• Referral to 12-step programs or community-based group therapy
• 24-hour professional inpatient or outpatient support
• Developing coping skills and strategies
• Equipped with a relapse prevention plan
Imagine getting clean only to return to the same environment that triggers addiction. Ultimately, reducing the risk of relapse is one of the most important goals of professional treatment. A relapse prevention plan equips you with steps to take when faced with emotional, physical, mental, and phycological drug use triggers. The plan usually emphasizes the importance of a support network involving loved ones, recovering peers, and counselors. These are the people you are expected to turn to when you feel overwhelmed by temptations to return to prescription drug abuse.
To learn more about treating prescription drug addiction, please visit The Recovery Village.