Many people make the mistake of believing that prescription medications are entirely safe. Although prescription drugs can be safe and effective when taken as directed by a healthcare provider, many also have potential for abuse and addiction.
Commonly abused medications like benzodiazepines (benzos), opioids, and stimulants can lead to addiction if abused or misused. Many people are also able to get their hands on prescription medications without written prescriptions from doctors, mainly for recreational use. If you or someone you know is struggling with a prescription pill addiction, our prescription drug detox programs can help.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an estimated 52 million people (20% of those aged 12 and older) have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons at least once in their lifetimes.1 You may wonder how this is possible, but a lot of factors go into developing a prescription drug addiction or dependence.
For instance, if someone has a blood relative who struggles with a substance use disorder, the individual may have genetically inherited a heightened risk for addiction. It’s also common for people to obtain these drugs from their relatives.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), more than half (51.3%) of people who misused pain relievers in the past year obtained the last pain reliever they misused from a friend or relative.2 Other reasons for abusing prescription drugs are to try and get high or improve performance for school or work.
Another risk factor for addiction is mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Prescription medications like opioids attach to part of the nerves that block pain and relax the mind while increasing dopamine to produce a euphoric high.
A person who feels tormented by their mental illness or chronic pain may begin to abuse drugs like narcotics to escape these symptoms. However, long-term use of drugs, even with a prescription, can lead to physical dependence, a condition marked by withdrawals when drug use ceases.
During detox from prescription drugs, the body attempts to regulate itself to its original state before it relies on drugs to feel normal. During this process, chemicals and functions that were diminished or stimulated by prescription pills are now doing the opposite in an attempt to regulate themselves.
As a result, people who abuse stimulants may experience depression and fatigue, while people who abuse benzodiazepines may experience trouble sleeping and anxiety. Withdrawal can be a painful and even life-threatening process if not done correctly or with the right kind of support.
The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms may vary depending on the drug in question, how long the person used the drug, and the dose the person normally used. Regardless of the drug, however, it’s recommended that individuals wanting to recover from a medication addiction seek out prescription medication detox.
Withdrawal From Prescription Drugs
When experiencing withdrawal, the body goes into shock as it attempts to clean itself out of the remaining traces of the prescription drugs it’s become accustomed to absorbing. Not only can this process lead to a rebound in symptoms the medication was originally taken to treat, but it can also manifest more serious symptoms.
While several withdrawal symptoms occur in all cases of medically assisted detox, some symptoms are specific to the drug.
Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms
Stimulants are prescribed to help patients with sleep disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and severe cases of depression. Stimulants impact the CNS by stimulating the release of chemicals like dopamine to increase alertness, concentration, focus, and mood.
Stimulant abuse has grown popular among students to enhance studying and performance. When a person stops using these drugs, they may experience stimulant withdrawal symptoms like:
- Aggression and irritability
- Intense dreaming
- Stomach pains
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
Opiate Withdrawal Symptoms
Typically, opiates are prescribed to treat pain. The history of opioid abuse dates way back, a danger that persists to this day as the nation struggles with a drug epidemic.
There are both prescription opioids, like codeine and morphine, as well as illegal opioids, like heroin. When opiates are taken, the drugs enter the brain and activate endorphins and dopamine.
This means that the drug produces a kind of high marked by happiness and euphoria. However, opiate withdrawal is far from euphoric. Common opioid withdrawal symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive sweating
- High blood pressure
- Muscle aches and spasms
- Rapid heartbeat
- Stomach ache
Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptoms
The most common benzo withdrawal symptoms, often called rebound symptoms, are usually symptoms of the ailments the person’s medication was originally taken to treat. These symptoms may include:
- Excessive sweating
- Hand tremors
- Heart palpitations
- Increased tension
- Mild to moderate changes in perception
- Muscular stiffness or discomfort
- Panic attacks
- Trouble concentrating
- Trouble sleeping
Clearbrook’s Prescription Drug Detox Centers
To start the prescription drug detox process, it’s important to understand how it works to ensure safety, health, and comfort. Clearbrook Treatment Centers offers detox programs, at both our Pennsylvania and Massachusetts locations, to help people addicted to drugs like opioids, benzos, antidepressants, and stimulants recover.
Before the detox, clients are evaluated by specialists to create a specific treatment plan for them. This is a significant part of the addiction recovery process at our Northeast addictions treatment centers to help people who are looking for a solution to their addictions by offering comfortable, safe, and healthy treatment options.
During the evaluation, our team asks clients about their symptoms, medical history, whether they have any underlying health conditions, the longevity and severity of their drug use, and more. Based on this information, our specialists will create an addiction treatment plan that meets the individual’s needs.
After the evaluation comes the detoxification process itself, during which clients will be slowly weaned off drugs under round-the-clock care. Our medical team provides supervision as well as medicated-assisted treatment (as needed) to reduce discomfort and the risk of complications.
Following detox, clients can then move on to other forms of care in our residential treatment program. In addition to prescription drug detox, our inpatient level of care also offers individual and group therapy, 12-Step support groups, family counseling, and more.
While detox is an important step, it’s only the first. Contact Clearbrook Treatment Centers today to find out more about our prescription drug addiction treatment and how we can help you or a loved one get sober.
- SAMHSA – Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health