Key To Recovery Loading...

Detox and Treatment for Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription medications can be addictive and make people feel the need to take more. People who are addicted to prescription medications are at a higher risk of a dangerous overdose. In the fast-paced environment of Southern California, prescription abuse is a growing problem.

Since some drugs can be especially addictive, the government classifies them as controlled substances. Pharmacists cannot provide them to people without a prescription. A controlled substance is a medication that is legal to sell only with a prescription because it’s potentially harmful when someone who doesn’t need it uses it or when someone who needs it abuses it.

It’s important to seek treatment for medication addiction. Prescription drug withdrawal is unpleasant and can be dangerous, but we are here to help. Our facility provides prescription drug detox and addiction treatment in Huntington Beach, CA.

Prescription Drug Abuse In California

What Is Prescription Drug Detox?The prescription drug category that is responsible for the most overdose deaths in California is opioids, comprising about 45% of overdose deaths. In 2018, there were 1,084 prescription opioid deaths. Deaths from prescription opioids, unlike those from synthetic opioids, were trending downward until that point. In 2020, the CDC announced that prescription opioid overdose deaths spiked across the nation, and California was among the top four states with the highest increase in numbers.

Benzodiazepines and stimulants are also common prescriptions that people abuse. Stimulants are often prescribed to improve focus and concentration, and benzodiazepines are often prescribed for anxiety. More than 8% of hospitalizations in Orange County are tied to benzodiazepines or stimulants. Among all antidepressant, stimulant, and narcotic pain reliever overdoses, the majority are accidental in Orange County.

What Is Prescription Drug Detox?

Detoxification is the body’s natural process of removing a substance. The liver helps cleanse the body. However, in a person with an addiction, the effects of the drug remain even after it’s gone from the body. How long it takes to detox from prescription drugs depends on the type of substance and a person’s level of dependence. For example, someone with a long-term opioid abuse problem who takes high doses may take longer to detox.

The detox process does not necessarily mean abruptly stopping substance use completely. It often involves tapering off or using medication-assisted treatment. MAT involves the use of other medications to help a person successfully and safely detox. It addresses prescription drug withdrawal symptoms, minimizing unpleasant ones and reducing or eliminating life-threatening ones. The specific medications a doctor recommends depend on the type of substance abuse, the patient’s medical history, the patient’s other medications and any co-occurring disorders.

Why Detox From Prescription Drugs?


Detox is important because a person cannot overcome addiction without it, whether it involves tapering off or stopping a prescription. Prescription drugs alter the balance of chemicals in the brain, and this alters important hormone regulation. Repeated abuse of a substance disrupts brain signals that relate to pleasure and reward functions.

When a person tries to detox from prescription drugs without medical assistance, the effects can be unbearable. People feel physically sick as their bodies tell them they need more of the substance to function. Meanwhile, cravings intensify. Although these physical and emotional feelings eventually pass, most people cannot tolerate them. They often wind up using the prescription substance again. To make matters worse, they may take a larger dose than before to offset the unpleasant feelings. A fatal overdose is a significant danger of an unsupervised detox process.

With supervised detox, a person has the physical, mental and emotional support they need. They have a team of professionals to provide counseling, and they stay in a clean and quiet facility. The facility provides nutritious food, comfortable beds, laundry service and more to let patients focus on detoxing and getting treatment for addiction. 

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs and Their Withdrawal Symptoms

As stated before, prescription opioids are the most common prescriptions that people abuse. Many people enter rehab facilities in Southern California to detox from oxycodone or fentanyl. Xanax and other benzodiazepines are also common culprits of abuse. In addition to Desoxyn and other stimulants, people often enter rehab for prescription steroid abuse.

Keep in mind that withdrawal symptoms are less intense with medical detox from prescription drugs. Oxycodone and fentanyl withdrawal can be especially harsh without medical intervention. Physicians provide prescription and over-the-counter medications to help people manage side effects.

Prescription drug withdrawal symptoms aren’t universal between different classes of drugs, and some people may experience other side effects as well. For example, someone in fentanyl withdrawal may feel sick, cold and in pain. Someone in steroid withdrawal may feel agitated and depressed.

Prescription Opioids

These are the most common side effects of opioid withdrawal:

  • Muscle or bone pain
  • Restlessness
  • Diarrhea
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Cold flashes and chills
  • Leg movements

Prescription Stimulantsprescription drug detox

These are the most common side effects of stimulant withdrawal:

  • Tiredness
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Twitching
  • Irritability

Prescription Tranquilizers or Sedatives

These are the most common side effects of sedative or tranquilizer withdrawal:

  • Shakiness
  • Seizures
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability or agitation
  • Sensitive reflexes
  • Insomnia
  • Hallucinating
  • Intense cravings
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased temperature or pulse

Prescription Steroids

These are the most common side effects of steroid withdrawal:

  • Insomnia and restlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Decreased libido
  • Tiredness
  • Depression
  • Mood swings

Prescription Drugs: Understanding the Delicate Balance Between Help and Harm

When people take prescriptions as recommended, they are less likely to become addicted. Physicians may only prescribe a substance for a short time, and this helps patients avoid dependence and the urge to take more than they should.

For example, if someone has a major surgery, a doctor may prescribe oxycodone or fentanyl for pain during recovery. As long as there is still severe pain, the individual needs relief to avoid physical agony. However, there are other important reasons to control the pain. Post-operative pain that is poorly controlled can negatively impact coagulation, the muscular system, immune function, wound healing and psychological health.

If the person takes too much of the medication to try to dull the pain more and deal with breakthrough pain, that can speed up tolerance building. Once the person builds a tolerance, there is a stronger urge to take more of the oxycodone or fentanyl. This is often how people wind up overdosing. If the person doesn’t detox from oxycodone or fentanyl, overdose risks only increase.

Also, oxycodone or fentanyl withdrawal can be dangerous without supervised prescription drug detox. People who take these medications for an extended period may need to taper off or seek addiction treatment, and the same is true with other forms of controlled substances.

Why People Abuse Prescription Drugs

Why People Abuse Prescription DrugsThere is no single reason why people take too much of a prescription or take a prescription that is not theirs. However, this is an important discussion that often leads to professionals suggesting a more optimal treatment approach to those who need it. The approach is called dual diagnosis treatment, and it involves treating a prescription drug addiction and a co-occurring disorder. Drug addiction often causes people to develop mood disorders, and depression, anxiety, or other disorders can often increase a person’s risk of developing an addiction.

For example, someone with depression may not have physical pain and may take a relative’s oxycodone prescription. The person may not want to detox from oxycodone since it reduces some depression symptoms. Alternately, the person may detox from oxycodone and not get treatment for the underlying depression. The untreated depression symptoms may compel the person to buy more oxycodone, and the person may detox from oxycodone multiple times and relapse each time.

With dual diagnosis treatment, people receive the comprehensive help they need. Without treating co-occurring disorders that put them at a greater risk of seeking substances, people may never beat the cycle of addiction. Prescription drug withdrawal effects can worsen this. For example, consider the unpleasant effects of fentanyl withdrawal. Someone who relapses may grow tired of fentanyl withdrawal and may eventually continue abusing the substance until they overdose.

Prescription Drug Detox in Southern California

If you live in or near Orange County and want a safe, comfortable and supportive environment where you can detox, we are here to help. The Key To Recovery starts by helping people detox from prescription drugs, and we follow that process with effective treatment. Our professionals create a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses all your unique needs.

We teach you how to identify key triggers and behaviors that fuel addiction, and we help you learn how to overcome or change them. During prescription drug detox, you have a clean, comfortable and safe environment where you can detox with confidence and nurturing support. Please contact us to let us help you start your recovery journey.

References