Prescription Drug Treatment

Prescription Drug Treatment

When it comes to substance abuse disorder, prescription drugs tend to fly under the radar. Because of the severity of the heroin and fentanyl epidemic, as well as the skyrocketing use of methamphetamine, awareness of prescription drug abuse disorder often takes a back seat.

However, prescription drugs have done their fair share of damage when it comes to substance abuse disorder. Most recently, the opioid prescription pill epidemic of the early and mid-2000s kicked the door down for the heroin and fentanyl epidemics.

Opioid prescription medications aren’t the only commonly abused forms of these medications. Benzos, stimulants, antidepressants, and other forms of prescriptions are all known for perpetuating addiction.

Recent crackdowns intense scrutiny in the prescription drug industry and the physicians who write them have led to a drop in the availability of many medications. However, black market availability hasn’t disappeared, and neither has the potential for prescription drug abuse.

Prescription drugs are incredibly potent because of the fact that most of them are completely synthetic (lab-made) and often rewire the brain’s chemistry. Because of these factors, most individuals suffering from prescription drug abuse disorder require some form of treatment.

What Is Prescription Drug Treatment?

Prescription drug treatment is the process in which individuals participate in a treatment regimen to treat their substance abuse disorder. A client’s prescription drug of choice is identified during this treatment so the best course of action may be implemented for treatment.

Other elements of prescription drug treatment may include medically-assisted detox, mental health counseling for dual diagnosis, aftercare services, and other forms of assistance. Prescription drug treatment is available in the form of inpatient or outpatient treatment programs.

However, before this starts, individuals must decide if prescription drug detox is necessary. This decision is heavily dependent on the users’ prescription drug of choice.

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Do I Need Prescription Drug Detox?

Prescription drug detox is a course of treatment that provides assistance with physical detoxification from any specific substance. If you’re struggling with prescription drug abuse disorder, detox may provide relief if your drug of choice is opioid medications, benzos, or stimulants.

Medically-assisted detox is crucial, especially in the case of the first two medications mentioned above. Opioid prescriptions cause significant withdrawal symptoms during detox. The physical health risks associated with benzo detox are even more severe than opioids.

There have been numerous deaths associated with benzo withdrawal. Understanding common classes of abused medications is critical because of the significant risk of withdrawal and other complications.

Various forms of medications used in stimulant detox treatment

Common Classes of Abused Medications

The three most common classes of abused medications fall into three categories. These three categories are:


Opioids attach to receptors in the central nervous system, preventing the brain from receiving pain messages. Some of the most common examples are oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine.

Central Nervous System Depressants

CNS depressants slow down brain activity by increasing the activity of a neurotransmitter known as GABA. This results in a drowsy or calming effect. Commonly abused CNS depressants are Luminal, Valium, and Xanax.


Stimulants increase brain activity, leading to higher levels of focus, alertness, increased metabolism, and weight loss. Some of the most popular stimulants when it comes to prescription drug abuse are Adderall and Ritalin.

Recently, there has been a significant increase in the number of overdose deaths associated with prescription opioids. Batches of prescription pills seized at overdose sites have contained high levels of fentanyl.

Black market manufacturers are producing counterfeit pills and substituting fentanyl as the main ingredient. For the unaware, this can end up being a death sentence.

Because of the variety of prescription drugs with the potential for abuse, there are multiple options for levels of addiction treatment care. Careful planning and an initial assessment will indicate which level of addiction treatment and specific options will be most effective.

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Levels of Addiction Treatment Care

The levels of addiction treatment care refer to the intensity of services provided by a rehab facility or any other treatment provider. Clients are able to participate in the most appropriate level of treatment and move around based on successful completion of previous levels.

There are no one-size-fits-all approaches to prescription abuse disorder, so different levels of treatment provide solutions based on the severity of the disorder. The following list is an example of the various levels of addiction treatment care.

Level 0.5: Early Intervention Services

Early intervention can prevent substance abuse disorders from becoming too severe. These services focus on education and resources for those who are at risk for substance abuse disorder but don’t meet diagnostic criteria.

Level I: Outpatient Services

Outpatient care takes place in a non-residential setting, so clients are able to live at home and even maintain a job. This treatment is less than nine hours per week in the case of adults. Outpatient services may be appropriate for individuals with less severe prescription abuse disorders (non-opioid or benzo, for example) or if they’ve previously completed inpatient treatment.

Level II: Intensive Outpatient/Partial Hospitalization

This level of treatment also occurs in a non-residential setting. However, there are more hours per week involved than in the previous level of treatment. Intensive outpatient may be appropriate for individuals who have co-occurring disorders but don’t need inpatient rehab. These programs include over 20 hours of treatment per week.

Level III: Residential/Inpatient Services

Services range in intensity during inpatient treatment. Clients live on-site, undergoing 24-hour supervision and care. Typically, these programs last anywhere from 30 to 90 days. Days are scheduled with activities, counseling sessions, group meetings, and mealtimes. Inpatient treatment programs normally come after medically-assisted detox.

Level IV: Medically Managed Intensive Inpatient

This level of treatment is reserved for individuals with severe prescription abuse disorder that needs medical stabilization. Normally clients experience withdrawal symptoms because of opioids, benzos, or other prescription medications and need this level of treatment.

What are some of the specific features of prescription drug treatment? Many of the same services are available across different levels, with the difference normally being a range in intensity. The biggest exception to this is medically-assisted detox, which requires an extended presence of medical personnel and certain medications to treat withdrawal symptoms.

Features of Prescription Drug Treatment

Prescription drug treatment normally includes the following features, depending on the specific level of treatment:

  • Access to mental health professionals for counseling and group sessions. Education is provided regarding prescription abuse disorder and treatment for dual-diagnosis and underlying mental health conditions.
  • Options to engage with peers are available during group meetings. These are led by mental health professionals and allow participants to vent and answer questions among each other.
  • Access to aftercare services with mental health professionals and other meeting options. This is important for treating post-acute withdrawal symptoms, which may persist for several months after detox and the initial phase of recovery.
  • Medically-assisted detox provides relief in the form of care from medical staff and options for medications during detox. This includes bupropion for stimulant detox and medications like Suboxone and methadone for opioid detox.

Medically-assisted detox is an important feature of treatment, especially in individuals suffering from opioid prescription abuse disorder. There are significant risks associated with at-home or cold-turkey detox.

Medically Assisted Detox

Dangers of At-Home or Cold-Turkey Detox

Individuals who choose at-home or cold-turkey detox put themselves at risk for significant challenges. The medical side-effects associated with withdrawal can become quite intense and hard to manage without medication and medical staff.

Because of the lack of these elements, there is an increased risk for medical complications. Additionally, individuals that choose cold-turkey detox have much higher odds of relapsing.

Choosing a medically supervised detox leads to much higher chances of success. The following section explains why.

Why Choose a Medically Supervised Detox?

Choosing a medically supervised detox provides clients with the tools they need to navigate detox successfully. This includes the assistance of medical staff who monitor patients’ conditions constantly.

Medications are prescribed to provide relief for the most intense side effects of withdrawal. This makes patients more comfortable during the detox process, leading to lower chances of exiting and relapsing.

Additionally, patients are medically stabilized to prevent certain health risks associated with detox and withdrawal. Choosing medically supervised detox can often be the difference between success and failure.

After detox is complete and clients participate in treatment, one of the most important prescription drug abuse disorder elements is dual diagnosis. This form of treatment identifies and treats underlying mental health conditions associated with prescription drug abuse disorder.

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Dual Diagnosis and Prescription Drug Misuse

Dual diagnosis is common in prescription drug misuse and other substance abuse disorders. Normally, an underlying mental health condition perpetuates the use of drugs, often providing uses relief from the challenges associated with these mental health issues.

With the help of psychologists and other professionals, patients are able to identify these underlying conditions. Some of the most common forms are:

  • Anxiety/panic disorder
  • Social anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression

Treating these conditions gets to the root of prescription abuse disorder. With the proper treatment of the underlying cause, clients can actually begin to heal from their disorders and make real progress.

One of the biggest questions surrounding prescription drug abuse disorder treatment is the cost of services. The next section outlines information regarding the cost of treatment.

Costs of Prescription Drug Treatment Centers

Most insurance providers often cover costs associated with prescription drug treatment centers. Normally, the price of drug treatment ranges anywhere from $5,000 to $35,000. However, it’s rare that individuals cover this cost out of pocket or fail to find a funding source.

State-funded treatment centers exist and grant programs for individuals who don’t have insurance. The most important thing to keep in mind is the price of addiction vs. the cost of treatment. You stand to lose much more than money because of the price of addiction. Receiving proper treatment and the right services is critical for navigating recovery.

Treatment is a critical element in long-term recovery from prescription drugs. However, long-term recovery is a realistic goal with the right resources and recovery plan.

Get Support for Lasting Recovery from Prescription Abuse at Icarus

A combination of specific elements is required for long-term recovery from prescription abuse disorder. These elements include the following:

  • The right options for detox, if necessary
  • The right level of treatment during the recovery period
  • Dual-diagnosis treatment and attention to mental health challenges
  • Aftercare services such as continued mental health and counseling sessions play a vital role in recovery. Additionally, 12-step programs and other meetings promote long-term recovery after treatment is complete.

If you or someone you know is suffering from prescription abuse disorder, Icarus Behavioral Health can provide the assistance you need. Our holistic approach to recovery provides the most significant benefits and levels of treatment with a natural twist on rehabilitation.

Contact one of our admissions specialists for more information regarding the intake process and how to become our next success story.

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