Prescription Drug Rehab Programs

Prescription drug misuse is one of the most common drug problems in America, with around 6.4 million people reporting misusing prescription drugs in 2015.[1]

Much of the focus on prescription drug addiction rests on opiates, because of high levels of misuse for this drug category. Around 3.8 million people report prescription opiate misuse. Just as millions suffer with opiate addictions, struggles with other medications are equally serious. Around 1.9 million misuse tranquilizers (e.g., Xanax, Valium), 1.7 million misuse stimulants (e.g., Ritalin, Dexedrine) and 446,000 misuse sedatives (e.g., Nembutal, Pentobarbital).1

Addiction treatment programs that successfully address prescription drug addiction begin by offering a medically safe environment for detoxing from substances, particularly opiates and benzodiazepines (tranquilizers), and then continue the process by providing psychological counseling and other therapies designed to change the brain’s reaction to drugs. At The Canyon patients receive care through integrated treatment plans that address all of their symptoms, including addiction and mental health disorders. This type of care is harder to find, only around 18% of facilities nationwide offer it, although research shows it produces better outcomes.[2]

When someone suffers from prescription drug addiction, he needs intensive, professional help to regain physical, emotional and psychological health.Addiction is a chronic disease, therefore it only gets worse when left unchecked or managed inappropriately.Finding a reliable and skilled prescription drug treatment center is one of the first steps to taking control of addiction and setting a course for a happier, healthier future.[3]

Differences in Rehab Options

Several types of prescription drugs lead to addiction. Each drug has a different impact on a patient, so treatment plans must be integrated to ensure all of a patient’s symptoms are addressed.

Some prescription drugs are stimulants affecting the central nervous system (CNS), like drugs used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Others are CNS depressants used to treat anxiety or sleep disorders. These drugs include Xanax or Lunesta. And of course some of the most readily available abused drugs are prescription painkillers. These drugs include powerful opiates such as Oxycodone, Percocet, Vicodin and Lortab. Since each of these drugs affects a different type of neurotransmitter receptor in the brain, they have varying effects on the body and need different, but similar, treatment approaches.[4]

taking prescription pillsSince each type of prescription drug requires a slightly different treatment process, it’s important patients choose a facility with experience dealing with all types of drugs. The first difference in treatment occurs during the detoxification phase of the recovery process. For example, a CNS depressant, such as Xanax, has different withdrawal symptoms than an opiate, such as Oxycodone.

When a patient enters a treatment center that specializes in detoxing as well as psychological counseling – services offered at The Canyon – staff members conduct an intake examination and interview to determine the drugs of addiction. This information forms the basis of a plan to manage the withdrawal symptoms accordingly. It is possible to experience withdrawal from more than one kind of prescription drug at a time and this is addressed as treatment options are offered in the first few days.

Once detox is compete, patients move on to the psychological portion of treatment. Detoxification is not a treatment for drug addiction; rather, it is the first, necessary step to recovering from addiction.

After detox, patients work with intake coordinators to determine the best course of treatment.

The final decision depends on many factors, including:

  • Overall cost of the treatment option
  • Severity of the addiction
  • Individual preference and personality
  • Responsibilities to others, such as children or aging parents

The decision process should include discussion with everyone involved, including family, treatment center providers, therapists and medical staff.

Inpatient Treatment

It’s imperative patients stay in treatment long enough to learn how to manage their addiction symptoms. A treatment program’s length affects the overall ability of a patient to stay in recovery and strengthen his ability to abstain from drug use in the future.The Canyon offers many options for long-term and short-term stays. A long-term treatment center, generally six to 12 months in length, focuses on several aspects of treatment, including taking personal responsibility for one’s decisions and learning how to exist in a socially acceptable environment. A short-term residential treatment program is generally much shorter in duration, but is followed by ongoing outpatient services. These treatments are generally based upon the 12-step model of recovery started by Alcoholic Anonymous, and later adapted for drug abuse with the founding of Narcotics Anonymous.[5]

Outpatient Treatment

Mental Health TreatmentAnother viable option for prescription drug addiction is The Canyon’s outpatient treatment program. This program is designed to treat patients who, for whatever reason, are unable to enter an inpatient program or choose outpatient treatment due to a less severe addiction. These programs offer the same kind of counseling and therapy available at an inpatient facility, but may also require daily or random drug screenings as a measure of whether patients are still using substances.

An intensive outpatient program meets several times each week, or even daily in some situations, with times scheduled to make it easier for participates to attend regularly. Some facilities have both morning and evening meeting times for group therapy and other activities. The amount of time one must attend an outpatient treatment program depends upon individual progress and is determined by the medical and psychological staff with input from the patient.[6]

Medications Available to Help Prescription Drug Addiction

Scientific research has opened up addiction treatment with certain medications to help the recovery process. For instance, when treating addiction to painkillers, such as Vicodin, OxyContin or other forms of hydrocodone, treatment professionals turn to tried-and-true heroin addiction treatment medications. Since painkillers are opiates with many of the same characteristics as heroin, anti-opiate medications work well. Using drugs like Suboxone – a mixture of the medications buprenorphine and naloxone – helps patients reduce abuse of pain medications by lessening the severity of withdrawal symptoms. These medications block the opiate receptors in the brain; however, they last far longer and do not have the same euphoric effects as painkillers.[7]

Unfortunately, there is no medication available presently to treat addictions to CNS depressants or stimulants.

Available Treatments for Prescription Addiction

Behavioral therapies are an integral part of inpatient or outpatient therapy and are useful for treating all sorts of addictions. Behavioral therapies take several forms, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI).

MI is especially helpful for patients who do not believe they have an addiction and are not seeking treatment freely. For instance, the National Institute on Drug Abuse reports use of motivational interviewing techniques benefits inmates in correctional facilities who do not wish to seek treatment, but are forced to by the legal system. During the therapy patients discuss present situations, as a way to understand why seeking treatment is a good idea. Once they discover, with the help of a motivational therapist, that recovering from addiction is beneficial, they are more likely to actively participate in their own recovery process.5

Each type of behavioral therapy targets a different aspect of a patient, from personality to self-image. Since each person is an individual, and no two people suffering from the disease of addiction have the same exact issues, these therapies are tailored to meet specific needs. One or more of the therapies might be used in conjunction with another, for instance.

Integrated Treatment Plans

If a patient suffers from a mental health disorder in addition to addiction, he must be properly diagnosed and treated. Often, mental illness occurs before addiction. If mental health disorders are not diagnosed and treated, addiction treatment is far less effective. A patient with addiction and a mental health disorder has co-occurring conditions.

A few common co-occurring conditions are:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Major depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Eating disorders
  • Schizophrenia

A highly effective treatment center looks for and diagnoses any conditions a patient may have, such as anxiety or depression. It’s especially important to be aware of co-occurring conditions, because some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs are for the treatment of conditions like anxiety.[8]

What Happens After Rehab?

Sometimes, the most difficult phase of the recovery process is learning to live in society again.

Life after rehab means confronting cravings, temptations and stress without turning to prescription medications. Because relapse is part of the recovery process, the prescriptions drug treatment a patient chooses should include a continuing care program for its alumni. Some facilities offer regular return visits for a day or two of refresher courses in sober living, while others may continually check in with the people they have helped to monitor their progress. The Canyon offers several types of aftercare programs.

Getting help for an addiction to prescription drugs is a life changing decision. Treatment gives patients the very best chance to live a full and happy life as they continue to heal without the painful costs of prescription drug addiction. Don’t wait another day, call us now for more information on effective treatment.


[1] Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. (2016). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Retrieved Nov. 6, 2016 from http://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-FFR1-2015/NSDUH-FFR1-2015/NSDUH-FFR1-2015.pdf

[2] McGovern, M.P., Lambert-Harris, C., Gotham, H.J. et al. (2014). Dual Diagnosis Capability in Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Services: An Assessment of Programs Across Multiple State Systems. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2016 from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10488-012-0449-1.

[3] National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Types of Treatment Programs. Retrieved Nov. 4, 2016 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/drug-addiction-treatment-in-united-states/types-treatment-programs.

[4] NIDA. (2015). DrugFacts—Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications. Retrieved Nov. 7, 2016 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/prescription-over-counter-medications.

[5] NIDA. (2012). Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). Principles of Effective Treatment. Retrieved Nov. 6, 2016 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/principles-effective-treatment.

[6] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Treatments for Substance Use Disorders. Retrieved Nov. 7, 2016 from http://www.samhsa.gov/treatment/substance-use-disorders.

[7] NIDA. (2011). Painkiller Abuse Treated by Sustained Buprenorphine/Naloxone. Retrieved Nov. 7, 2016 from https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2011/11/painkiller-abuse-treated-by-sustained-buprenorphinenaloxone.

[8] SAMHSA. (2009). Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders: The Evidence. Retrieved Nov. 3, 2016 from https://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA08-4367/TheEvidence-ITC.pdf.


Top