Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription drug addiction can take many forms. Many drugs  fall under the umbrella of ‘prescription drug addiction.’ Prescription drug addiction can be particularly hard to identify and  treat as many start the medications under legitimate circumstances. The individual is obtaining the medication from a doctor so they may feel that this validates their abuse of prescription medications.

The DSM does not single out prescription drug addiction as a specific diagnosis. This is because prescription drug addiction can be in many forms:

  • Opioid painkillers (Vicodin, Percocet, Dilaudid, Fentanyl, Oxycontin, Oxycodone, morphine)
  • Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin, Valium)
  • Stimulants (Adderall, Ritalin)

Drugs individuals can become addicted to

  • Xanax
  • Klonopin
  • Vicodin
  • Percocet
  • Dilaudid
  • Fentanyl
  • Oxycontin
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Valium
  • Adderall

Prescription Drug Disorder Symptoms

For substance addiction, the DSM defines it as such:  “a problematic pattern of use of an intoxicating substance, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress, as manifested by at least two of the following, occurring in a 12 month period:”

  • Prescription drugs are often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than was intended
  • There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control prescription drug use
  • A great deal of time is spent in activities, necessary to obtain prescription drugs, use prescription drugs, or recover from prescription drug effects
  • Recurrent prescription drug use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school or home
  • Continued prescription drug use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of prescription drugs
  • Recurrent prescription drug use in situations in which it is physically hazardous
  • Prescription drug use is continued despite knowledge of having persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by prescription drugs
  • High tolerance for prescription drug use
  • Withdrawals experienced from lack of prescription drug use

The above criteria was paraphrased from the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM). If you or a loved one meet two or more of the above criteria, there may be a prescription drug abuse disorder present.

How does prescription drug addiction or a prescription drug abuse disorder look in real life? Those who are prescription drug addicts gradually prioritize prescription drugs over everything else in their life. Prescription drug addicts may prioritize prescription drugs over work, school, significant others, children and even their own health. Prescription drug addicts will often continue to use prescription drugs even if they have had legal consequences as a result of their prescription drug use.

Treatment for Addiction to Prescription Drugs

Treatment for prescription drug addiction typically happens over a period of 3-12 months based on the needs of each individual. Many prescription drug addicts require a medical detox as their first stop due to withdrawal symptoms they experience when they cease using prescription drugs. Medical detox for prescription drug addiction typically lasts between 2-7 days. There is typically no counseling or groups in detox as the purpose of detox is to get the patient medically stabilized and prepared to be able to participate in treatment. WARNING: Benzodiazepine withdrawal can be deadly. Always seek medical attention and advice and/or medical detox when stopping the use of drugs such as Xanax, Klonopin and Valium.

After medical detox, many recovering people choose to enter residential (or inpatient) drug treatment. Inpatient prescription drug treatment rehab typically lasts around 4 weeks. During residential prescription drug treatment, clients undergo assessments by professional counselors and physicians and participate in group and individual counseling sessions. Many clients continue to experience post-acute withdrawal symptoms in residential prescription drug treatment and those symptoms are closely monitored and treated in the highly supervised environment.

Stepping Down Through Levels of Care

Following residential treatment for prescription drug addiction, many clients enter “partial hospitalization” or “day treatment.” Day treatment for prescription drug addiction at our center is typically conducted Monday-Friday for about 6 hours per day (30 hours per week) consisting of group and individual therapy. Clients in the day treatment level of care typically see a psychiatrist on a regular schedule to continue monitoring of post-acute withdrawal symptoms and other medical issues. Clients will participate in day treatment for around 4 weeks following residential prescription drug treatment. Clients at day treatment level of care may live at their own residence or in a sober living home.

Following day treatment, the next level of care is intensive outpatient (IOP). At the IOP level of care at our center, clients participate in group therapy 3 hours per day 3 days per week (9 hours per week of group therapy) and may continue seeing their individual therapist and psychiatrist as needed. Clients at intensive outpatient level of care may live at their own residence or in a sober living home.

The Importance of Testing

Drug and alcohol testing is an important component of prescription drug treatment and should be performed as medically indicated at all levels of care.

If you or a loved one suffers from Xanax addiction, Valium addiction, Vicodin addiction, painkiller addiction or other prescription drug addiction, NorthStar Transitions can help! Please click HERE to verify your insurance and an admission representative will contact you within 24 hours to counsel you on the available treatment options and insurance coverage.

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