Prescription Drug Detox, Treatment, & Rehab

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Prescription drugs are one of the most commonly misused substances within the United States. Prescription medications are misused when an individual takes the medication other than how it is prescribed. This includes taking larger doses of a medication than prescribed, or taking a medication that is prescribed for someone else. In 2021, approximately 14.3 million individuals reported engaging in the misuse of a prescription psychotherapeutic substance. (1)

At Guardian Recovery, we offer evidence-based treatment options for those experiencing addiction and dependency to prescription, and other, medications. With medical detox services available we can help you, or a loved one, overcome your substance misuse in a safe environment. Providing psychoeducation and comprehensive treatment options, we are dedicated to helping each individual develop the necessary coping techniques needed for the road to recovery. Contact us today to learn more.

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What Are the Most Commonly Misused Prescription Medications?

There are different classes of prescription medication.

The most commonly misused prescription medications include:

  • Opioids – Includes hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and codeine. Typically prescribed to help treat pain.
  • Depressants – Includes sedatives, tranquilizers, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and hypnotics. Typically prescribed to help treat anxiety and sleep related disorders.
  • Stimulants – Includes Adderall, Ritalin, Concerta, Dexedrine, and Biphetamine. Typically prescribed to help treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The amount of individuals reportedly engaging in the misuse of prescription medications in 2021: (2)

  • Prescription stimulants – Approximately 3.7 million individuals.
  • Prescription tranquilizers or sedatives – Approximately 4.9 million individuals.
  • Benzodiazepines – Approximately 3.9 million individuals.
  • Prescription pain relievers – Approximately 8.7 million individuals.

Why Are Prescription Drugs Addictive?

The way that prescription medications interact with the brain, body, and central nervous system are reasons why addiction can develop.

Prescription Opioids

Prescription opioids block pain signals from the brain and release dopamine into the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which plays a large role in feelings of pleasure. Over time, the brain learns to rely on prescription opioids in order to release dopamine into the brain. (3) This makes the individual want to repeatedly engage in their prescription drug misuse, leading to addiction.

Prescription Depressants

Prescription depressants increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, which slows down brain activity. (4) This can cause feelings of drowsiness, relaxation, and calmness, which can increase an individual’s chances of continuously engaging in prescription misuse.

Prescription Stimulants

Prescription stimulants flood the brain with the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. This can lead to an individual to experience feelings of euphoria. (5) An individual may continue to engage in prescription stimulant misuse in order to temporarily reproduce feelings of euphoria.

Can You Become Dependent When Taking Prescription Drugs as Instructed?

Since prescription medications can activate the brain’s reward center, dependency can still occur, even if taken as prescribed.

Signs & Symptoms of Prescription Drug Dependence

Being able to identify the signs and symptoms associated with prescription addiction and dependency can help you determine if you or a loved one are experiencing a substance use disorder. An official psychological assessment must be conducted by a licensed professional in order for a diagnosis to be given.

Signs and symptoms associated with prescription drug use include:

  • Engaging in prescription drug use for a longer period of time than intended.
  • Continuing to engage in prescription drug use despite experiencing negative consequences.
  • Experiencing a lack of motivation to participate in activities enjoyed prior to prescription drug use.
  • Experiencing poor school or work performance.
  • Experiencing legal and financial issues directly related to prescription drug use.
  • Socially isolating oneself from close friends and family.
  • Engaging in drug seeking behavior, such as stealing or buying prescriptions, or attempting to have more than one prescription at a time.
  • Spending a significant amount of time obtaining, using, and recovering from the effects of the prescription medication.
  • Developing a physical tolerance, or needing to consume larger doses of a prescription medication in order to reach the desired effects, or effects previously produced.
  • Experiencing physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal when prescription drug use is cut back, or stopped suddenly.

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Prescription Drug Addiction Detox & Rehab Process

Once an individual decides to seek prescription drug treatment, detox is typically the initial step in the rehab process. Following detox, the appropriate level of care to continue treatment is determined. Additionally, individuals engage in therapeutic interventions during the rehab process.

Can You Detox From Prescription Drugs on Your Own or Cold Turkey?

It is recommended that individuals wanting to cut back, or stop, their prescription drug use attend a treatment facility that offers medically supervised detox. This is due to the fact that the withdrawal symptoms associated with prescription drug use can be so severe that individuals return to engaging in prescription drug misuse within the first 24 hours.

Detoxing the Body From Prescription Drug Abuse

Detox, or detoxification, is the removal of substances from the body. Detox can elicit withdrawal symptoms, which can be extremely uncomfortable. Some withdrawal symptoms may even be dangerous. At Guardian Recovery, we offer medication-assisted treatment to help minimize withdrawal symptoms.

Duration of Withdrawal Symptoms

The exact duration of withdrawal symptoms may vary, and depends on the individual, their overall health, and their frequency of use.

The Withdrawal Timeline for Prescription Drug Abuse

Exact withdrawal timelines vary for each individual. Though, typically, opioid withdrawal symptoms begin within a few hours after the last dose, and peak between 1 to 3 days. While withdrawal symptoms associated with prescription stimulants may begin within a few hours, and can last for several months.

How Long Does It Take to Detox From Prescription Drugs?

The exact prescription drug detox timeline can vary depending on the duration and intensity of use, and other individual factors.

Treatment Approach for Prescription Drug Dependence

The combination of medication-assisted treatment and therapeutic interventions have been found to be effective in the treatment of prescription drug dependence.

Dual Diagnosis & Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

A substance use disorder and a mental health disorder can occur simultaneously. Treatment for co-occurring disorders can be difficult as addressing both disorders is necessary in order for treatment to be most effective. At Guardian Recovery, we offer dual diagnosis treatment for those experiencing co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.

Rehab Programs & Options for Prescription Drug Addiction

There are different steps, and levels of care, associated with prescription drug addiction treatment.

Inpatient Rehabilitation

Inpatient rehabilitation, or inpatient, provides individuals with 24/7, full-time care. Individuals attending an inpatient rehab reside at the facility, and follow a structured schedule. Daily activities include, individual therapygroup therapyfamily therapyrecreational therapy, and medication management.

Outpatient Rehab

Standard outpatient rehab is often the lowest level of care in the prescription drug rehab process. Individuals reside at their private homes, and attend treatment weekly, biweekly, or monthly, depending on their progress.

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

Partial hospitalization, or PHP, typically follows inpatient rehab. Individuals typically reside at their private home, or a sober living facility, and attend their PHP activities during the day. Treatment is attended 5 to 6 days a week.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

Intensive outpatient, or IOPs, typically follow PHP. Individuals attend treatment for 3 to 5 hours each day for approximately half of the week.

Virtual & Online Treatment & Counseling

Virtual and online treatment make prescription drug recovery possible for anyone with a quiet area and internet connection. At Guardian Recovery, we offer virtual treatment and counseling sessions for those interested in telehealth.

Relapse Prevention for Prescription Drug Addiction

Relapse occurs when an individual returns back to substance use following a period of sobriety. Approximately two-thirds of all individuals who receive substance use treatment relapse at some point. (6) At Guardian Recovery, we offer relapse prevention training to aid individuals in maintaining their sobriety over time.

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Changing lives by providing comprehensive support and rehabilitation, empowering individuals to overcome addiction and regain control of their health and well-being.

Our Simple Admissions Process

If you, or a loved one, are experiencing a prescription drug addiction, treatment is the most effective way to reach recovery. One of our Treatment Advisors can help guide you through our simple admissions process. Ask about our free, no obligation, insurance benefits check to determine which of our treatment options is covered by your health insurance plan. Start your recovery journey today at Guardian Recovery.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Helpful, Recovery

Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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