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Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drugs are perfectly legal as long as they are used for their intended purpose. All instructions on drug labels must be followed. Once a person begins to intentionally use prescription drugs in larger or more frequent doses than prescribed, it becomes drug abuse. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), 48 million Americans over 12 years of age have used prescribed medications for nonmedical reasons. The most commonly abused prescription drugs are:


If you suspect that a loved one is abusing these or any other drugs, call our hotline at 1-888-968-9816 Who Answers? to seek help from one of our advisors.

Detox and Withdrawal

Once a decision has been made to seek treatment, the first phase is detoxification. During detox, patients stop using any prescription drugs they were abusing. Stopping drug use causes some withdrawal symptoms. The type and severity of withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the drug being abused.

During the detox phase, it is advisable to be under the care of a licensed medical doctor. A doctor will be able to monitor your health and help lessen the symptoms of withdrawal. For example, one possible symptom is depression, which can be treated with antidepressants to make the transition into sobriety easier. Other symptoms, such as nausea, may be treatable with medication as well. In order to get medical help from a doctor during detox, the patient should be enrolled in an inpatient rehab program.

Inpatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab is a treatment program that involves addicts staying in a licensed facility while they go through the rehabilitation process. Drug users are given room and board and a course of treatment to help them break their addiction and learn to live independently without relapsing. All patients are monitored day and night by medical professionals and trained staff who know what they are going through and can help them achieve their goal of sobriety. Being among other addicts may also help them realize they are not alone and may make the transition back to their normal life easier.

If you feel that you or a loved one needs the help of an inpatient treatment center, our hotline can help. Call 1-888-968-9816 Who Answers? for more information about rehab facilities that fit your needs.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab is a treatment program that involves addicts attending their scheduled meetings and sessions in a rehab facility during the day and returning home at night. Patients return to the treatment center in the morning to start their day again. Some addicts successfully complete outpatient rehab without a problem, while others succumb to temptation. Once addicts leave rehab each day, they may relapse by purchasing and using drugs again. This is why inpatient rehab is favorable over outpatient alternatives. With inpatient programs, addicts won’t have access to drugs or daily temptation to begin using again. The lack of temptation greatly increases the chances of successful rehabilitation.

Length of Stay

Most rehab treatment centers have several options available for length of stay. Most medical professionals will recommend a stay of at least 30 days in an inpatient facility. Statistics have shown that the longer the stay in rehab, the better the chances of success. This is why it is better to stay as long as possible. Checking in for 45 to 90 days will give you better chances for staying sober even after you leave the treatment center.

Rehab Plan

Once patients check in, a rehab plan is established based on their level of addiction and needs. Most rehab facilities include various forms of therapy in rehab plans. Individual therapy and group therapy are generally assigned. Another important part of treatment is cognitive behavior therapy, which can help you identify why you became addicted and stop those triggers from causing a relapse in the future. Techniques for long-term sober living are also taught.

In addition to therapy, other activities may be assigned to patients. Special diet and exercise programs can help with overall health and wellbeing. Certain activities like yoga or crafts are used to help patients relax and enjoy themselves as they begin the journey to sobriety and start taking their lives back.

Long-Term Recovery

According to a study by the American College of Preventive Medicine, 50 to 90 percent of addicts will relapse once they leave a rehab facility. A potential relapse threat for prescription drug abusers is that in the future, they may have a medical need for the same or similar drugs. For example, addicts could be sober for several years then get into a car accident. The accident may leave them in pain, requiring prescription pain medications. It would be very easy for them to relapse and begin abusing the drugs once they are prescribed. For this reason, most treatment plans include after-rehab meetings, therapy and support groups. These will help members stay sober and decide on alternatives should they be put in a position where prescription medications are necessary. An after-rehab plan is a vital part of the overall treatment plan and will help you maintain your post-addiction life.


  • Many prescription painkillers are crushed and snorted for a quicker high
  • Inpatient prescription drug rehab increases the chances of sobriety
  • An estimated 48 million Americans over 12 years old have used prescription drugs at least once for nonmedical reasons