How Prescription Drug Addiction Is Treated – Verywell Health

Michelle C. Brooten-Brooks is a licensed marriage and family therapist, health reporter and medical writer with over twenty years of experience in journalism. Her feature writing and health reporting have appeared in numerous newspapers across the country.
Lindsay Cook, PharmD is a board-certified consultant pharmacist.
In 2020, 1.2 million people in the U.S. misused prescription pain relievers. Prescription drug addiction often starts with medically-prescribed needed use, such as following surgery or injury. Gradually, use becomes misuse, resulting in substance use disorder or addiction. When that occurs, prescription drug addiction treatment is necessary.

Read on to learn about prescription drug addiction treatment options, including inpatient, outpatient, medication, and community support.

Jeffrey Hamilton / Getty Images
The most common prescription drugs that lead to addiction include:
Opioids are pain-relieving drugs derived from opiates, such as opium, morphine, and heroin, that come from the opium poppy plant.
Opioids activate the receptors for the brain’s neurotransmitter dopamine, causing euphoric feelings.
Opioids treat severe pain from surgery, illness, medical procedures, and childbirth.

Some examples of opioids include:
In the late 1990s, new opioids entered the market. They were increasingly prescribed based on misinformation that they were less addictive. They were, in fact, highly addictive. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency.
In 2019, nearly 50,000 people in the United States died due to opioid-involved overdoses. Provisional data estimates over 75,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in 2021.
Depressants calm the nervous system and have sedative effects. They are used for treating anxiety and sleeping disorders.
They include:
Primarily prescribed for ADHD, stimulants stimulate the brain’s pre-frontal cortex and increase dopamine.
They include:
Medication-assisted treatment helps manage the severe symptoms of withdrawal, which can make a significant difference toward long-term recovery.
A 2020 study investigated the use of medication-assisted treatment with methadone or buprenorphine in people with opioid addiction and found a 76% reduction in overdose at three months, and 59% at one year.
Some medications used for medication-assisted treatment include:
Treatment options for prescription drug addiction also include inpatient and outpatient treatment.
Inpatient, where a person stays overnight, is also known as rehabilitative residential treatment or rehab. Outpatient treatment is usually a clinic that a person visits by day for treatment, but returns home at night.
Long-term residential treatment facilities provide 24-hour care for an inpatient stay from six to 12 months. They can include hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, and non-hospital settings.
Treatment is typically highly structured and may include employment training and other support services.
Short-term residential treatment options are designed to provide intensive treatment with a shorter stay, usually a week, or 30, 60, or 90 days.
Once the inpatient portion of the program is completed, you will engage with outpatient programs, including individual therapy, family therapy, group therapy, and support groups.
Outpatient treatment facilities are lower-intensity but offer individual, family, and group therapy, allowing the person to be engaged with regular work and home routines.
These programs are often designed to treat those with dual diagnoses, including substance use disorders and mental health disorders and conditions.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline1-800-662-HELP (4357), is a free and confidential information service for people facing addiction, as well as their family members. It is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in both English and Spanish. They also offer a treatment locater that provides referrals to local treatment options in your area.

Living with drug addiction can be very isolating. Therapy can be a useful tool to help over come drug addiction.
Some effective therapy methods for drug addiction include:
Studies show that social connections with family, groups, community, and friends have positive impacts on recovery.
Complementary and alternative medicine, while not a replacement for addiction treatment, can offer additional support.
Prescription drug addiction often starts with medically-prescribed use following surgery or injury. Over time, use can lead to misuse and become addiction. When addiction occurs, treatment is necessary.
Treatment to address prescription drug addiction includes medication, inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, therapy, and support groups. People can also benefit from alternative therapies such as yoga, mindfulness, and getting high quality sleep.
It's nearly impossible to overcome prescription drug addiction alone. The first step of admitting you need help may be the most difficult one of all. In seeking treatment, you'll find the support, resources, and social connection that is necessary in overcoming addiction.
If you are struggling with prescription drug addiction and want to seek help, contact the SAMHSA National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.
Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you live your healthiest life.
Thank you, {{}}, for signing up.
There was an error. Please try again.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Highlights for the 2020 national survey on drug use and health.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Commonly abused prescription drugs.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Opioids.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prescription opioids.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What is the U.S. opioid epidemic?.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Opioid overdose crisis.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drug overdose deaths in the U.S. top 100,000 annually.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Central nervous system depressants.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Prescription stimulants.
Wakeman SE, Larochelle MR, Ameli O, et al. Comparative effectiveness of different treatment pathways for opioid use disorderJAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(2):e1920622. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.20622
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Methadone.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Buprenorphine.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Naltrexone.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Naloxone
National Institute on Drug Abuse. Types of treatment facilities.
McHugh RK, Park S, Weiss RD. Group therapy for substance use disorders. In: el-Guebaly N, Carrà G, Galanter M, eds. Textbook of Addiction Treatment: International Perspectives. Springer Milan; 2015:873-887. doi:10.1007/978-88-470-5322-9_42
Tracy K, Wallace SP. Benefits of peer support groups in the treatment of addictionSubst Abuse Rehabil. 2016;7:143-154. doi:10.2147/SAR.S81535
Giacomucci S, Gera S, Briggs D, Bass K. Experiential addiction treatment: creating positive connection through sociometry and therapeutic spiral model safety structures. AAD. 2018;5(1):1-7. doi:10.24966/AAD-7276/100017
National Institutes of Health HEAL Initiative. New strategies to prevent and treat opioid addiction.
National Institutes of Health HEAL Initiative. Sleep dysfunction as a core feature of opioid use disorder and recovery.
Uebelacker LA, Van Noppen D, Tremont G, Bailey G, et al. A pilot study assessing acceptability and feasibility of hatha yoga for chronic pain in people receiving opioid agonist therapy for opioid use disorder. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 2019;105:19-27. doi:10.1016/j.jsat.2019.07.015
Garland EL, Atchley RM, Hanley AW, Zubieta JK, Froeliger B. Mindfulness-oriented recovery enhancement remediates hedonic dysregulation in opioid users: neural and affective evidence of target engagement. Sci Adv. 2019;5(10):eaax1569. doi:10.1126/sciadv.aax1569

Thank you, {{}}, for signing up.
There was an error. Please try again.
Verywell Health uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *