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Prescription Medication Detox Guide

Prescription Medication Detox Guide

Drug addiction and alcohol addiction are very serious problems in our country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription drug abuse has officially been declared an epidemic. The number of overdoses due to prescription drugs has increased to 17,000 per year since the year 2012. The outlook doesn't look good, according to the latest surveys and statistics. Only 16% of Americans believe that the U.S. is making progress in the effort to reduce prescription drug abuse and addiction, and close to 40% of Americans believe that we're losing ground in the fight against this problem.

Getting the word out about the right treatment options is the only way the number of prescription drug overdoses and addictions is going to be decreased. For those who are looking to recover from a prescription drug addiction, prescription medication detox offers hope for a future that isn't tarnished by this dangerous addiction.

Prescription Drug Detox Overview

If you are someone who has ever suffered from severe pain, anxiety, depression or ADHD, you appreciate prescription medications. For many people in the United States, these drugs are necessary, and they serve to help people improve the quality of their lives. Unfortunately, there are so many drugs on the market today that have very high risks of abuse and addiction. Many prescription medications result in mind-altering effects that can quickly lead to addictions, and there are so few patients that are even aware of the dangerous situations they're in when they continue to take them, year after year. It's not uncommon for people to become addicted to prescription drugs accidentally. Of course, people do also obtain them illegally and use them in ways that are against doctors' standard instructions as well.

The stigma surrounding prescription drugs is that because they're prescribed by a doctor, they must be safe. People often believe that even if there are some dangerous associated with them, they certainly must be safer than illegal drugs. Unfortunately, this could not be further from the truth. In fact, in many ways, this belief has resulted in prescription drugs being some of the most dangerous substances in the United States.

Recovering from a prescription medication addiction is a difficult process that should not be undertaken on your own. Attempting to stop many of these medications outside of professional supervision can have drastic consequences. However, choosing prescription drug detox can result in a much more comfortable recovery because toxins are purged from the body in a more controlled way. People who opt for prescription drug detox as the very first step in their addiction treatment plan find that they're more likely to experience a successful recovery.

Prescription Medication Addiction

Prescription Drugs That Require Detox and Have Withdrawal Symptoms

It's not uncommon for people to become shocked when they realize that the prescription medications they have been taking for years are actually addictive. Even though most of these medications and narcotics have clear warnings on their bottles, and even though many doctors carefully go over the risks with their patients before prescribing medications, the warnings are often not heeded, or they're disregarded because of how necessary the medication is.

The list of prescription drugs that require detox and that also have withdrawal symptoms when they are stopped is actually rather long. This list includes:

You may look at this list with a bit of surprise. There are probably quite a few drugs on that list that you didn't realize were addictive, and maybe some of them are in your medicine cabinet right now.

The Most Commonly Abused Prescription Drug Categories that Require Detox

Although there are many prescription drugs on the above list, there are some categories that fall into a higher risk category than others when it comes to recovering from addiction. The prescription drug categories that contain the most commonly abused drugs that require detox are:

  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Amphetamines and Stimulants
  • Anabolic Steroids
  • Barbiturates
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opiates
  • Sedatives and Tranquilizers

Each one of these drug classes can be very helpful when it is used correctly, and very harmful when they are taken for too long, or when they are abused in some way. Becoming addicted to a prescription drug is dangerous, and it is important to get the right kind of treatment if you believe you might have an addiction. Prescription medication detox is the best way to begin recovering.

Are You Addicted to Prescription Medication?

It's actually quite common for people to be unsure about whether or not they are actually addicted to a prescription medication. Because these drugs are prescribed by a doctor, quite often, the idea of becoming addicted to them never even enters the minds of most people. Perhaps that's how you feel as well, and you're wondering if a medication you've been taking has led to an addiction. Taking a prescription medication quiz can help you determine whether or not you have a serious addiction that would benefit from professional treatment and prescription drug detox, but it may be helpful for you to look at your answers to the following questions as well.

  • Do you frequently ask for prescription refills from your doctor?
  • Have you gone to multiple doctors in an attempt to get prescriptions for the same drug so that you have many on hand?
  • Have you ever lied about losing your prescriptions so that you can get refills?
  • Do you crush or break your pills when you take them?
  • Have you ever stolen or borrowed prescription drugs from friends, family members or co-workers?
  • Do you find that you're taking more of your prescription medication than you should be taking?
  • When asked about your prescription drug use, do you ever give inconsistent answers about what you take or how often you take it?
  • Have you ever stolen or forged prescriptions?
  • Have you ever tried to order your prescription medications online, or from another country?

If you answered "yes" to a even a few of these questions, that is a clear indication that you most likely have an addiction to prescription drugs. It's possible that you've never really thought of your prescription medication use as a problem. Maybe it hasn't really affected your life very much, or perhaps it's only just starting to negatively affect your life. Either way, continuing to use prescription drugs when you have an addiction to them can have a profound negative effect on your life, your health and your future. It is essential to get the help you need so that you can recover properly.

Typical Withdrawal Symptoms of Addictive Prescription Medications

Quite often, once people realize the addictive potential of their prescription medications, or they even have a concern that they may have become addicted to them, they will stop taking them immediately. What they don't realize is that all drugs - even prescription medications - have significant withdrawal symptoms that can result when they are stopped. These withdrawal symptoms will be different for each type of drug, depending on what it is. There are also many other factors that come into play as well. A person's genetic history, what other types of substances are being used at the same time, and how long they have been using all factor into how severe their withdrawal symptoms will be. However, there are certain withdrawal symptoms that often occur with almost every prescription drug when it is stopped. These withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Intense cravings for the drug
  • Very large pupils
  • Goose bumps and chills
  • Nausea, with or without vomiting
  • Achiness all over the body
  • Negative moods and severe agitation at times
  • Digestive issues and diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Painful headaches

Generally, these and any other withdrawal symptoms that may arise are experienced in gradually increasing levels of severity. Most people will find that their withdrawal symptoms peak at around the third day, and then they begin to diminish. Even so, everyone is different, and the ways each individual person experiences withdrawal will be different as well.

What is the Length of Time to Physically Withdraw from Various Addictive Medications You are Prescribed?

Because everyone experiences prescription medication withdrawal a little bit differently, it's difficult to say how long you can expect to experience these symptoms with absolute certainty. In general, the worst part of withdrawal lasts for about a week or so. Although there are some people who may experience withdrawal symptoms that go on for a few weeks, or longer. It is not unusual for some symptoms of prescription medication withdrawal to linger for a few months. Depression, anxiety and fatigue are the symptoms that tend to last longer than other symptoms.

Even so, every prescription drug category is different.

Withdrawal Timeline for Antidepressants

Some of the more commonly prescribed antidepressants include:

  • Prozac
  • Luvox
  • Paxil
  • Zoloft
  • Lexapro
  • Celexa

When antidepressants are stopped, they result in withdrawal symptoms that can become quite severe as time goes on. People will often complain of:

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Experiencing extreme anxiety or panic attacks
  • Having vivid dreams
  • Suffering from insomnia
  • Becoming depressed
  • Having flu-like symptoms

Usually, symptoms will occur for between two and four days, but this can vary from person to person. The average length of symptoms is between five and eight days, but they can last as long as close to two months. Symptoms of depression can become severe, which is often one of the reasons so many people give up and go back to taking their medication when they try to stop using on their own.

Withdrawal Timeline for Antipsychotics

Some antipsychotic medications that are often prescribed include:

  • Abilify
  • Clozaril
  • Geodon
  • Risperdal
  • Seroquel
  • Zyprexa

Research has shown that even when antipsychotics are tapered, the withdrawal symptoms that can result can be very difficult for patients to manage. People may complain of:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • High risk for anorexia
  • Chronic headaches
  • Problems sleeping at night
  • Severe anxiety
  • Severe agitation

When stopping antipsychotic medications, withdrawal symptoms usually start within one day, although there have been cases when they started as long as four days after the last dose of the medication was given. Withdrawal symptoms typically last for one to two weeks. Although, there are extreme cases of withdrawal that last for as long as a month.

Withdrawal Timeline for Amphetamines and Stimulants

Amphetamines are often used as a way to treat the symptoms of ADHD. Some of the more commonly prescribed amphetamines include:

  • Adderall
  • Adderall XR
  • Dexedrine
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta
  • Strattera

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, when amphetamines are stopped abruptly, withdrawal symptoms begin to set in very quickly. This is because the brain and body immediately start going through some uncomfortable changes that are hard to cope with.

Typical amphetamine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Chronic fatigue and oversleeping
  • Feeling excessively hungry
  • Experiencing abdominal and stomach pain
  • Problems with coordination
  • Shakiness in the body
  • A high risk of seizures
  • Tachycardia or arrhythmia
  • High risk of cardiac arrest
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Hallucinations or delusions

Withdrawal symptoms tend to set in just a few hours after the last dose of amphetamines when an addiction is present. They typically increase in severity, and they can last for between two and ten days. There are some users who take even longer to stabilize, but this is dependent on the types of drugs that were being used, and the methods that were used to administer them. Some withdrawal symptoms - such as cravings and depression - can last for weeks or even months.

Withdrawal Timeline for Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are medications that are often abused because of how they are able to build muscle in the body. Usually, they're prescribed to people who need to gain weight because of an illness or disease. However, when they are used for a prolonged period of time, they can easily lead to addiction.

Some of the more commonly prescribed anabolic steroids include:

  • Anadrol-50
  • Oxandrin
  • Winstrol
  • Anavar
  • Dianabol
  • Stanozol

When anabolic steroids are stopped abruptly, there is a shift in hormones that can lead to withdrawal. People will commonly experience the following:

  • Painful headaches
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Lack of appetite
  • Pain in the joints
  • Muscle aches
  • Problems with sleeping
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression that can lead to suicidal thoughts

The duration of withdrawal symptoms from anabolic steroids varies from person to person, and they are generally influenced by how much of the drug is being used, and how often it is being used. In general, withdrawal symptoms will last from two days to two weeks. After the second week, minor symptoms may persist for a while longer for some people.

Withdrawal Timeline for Barbiturates

Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants that are similar to benzodiazepines. They're often used for sedation and in anesthesia. Some common types of barbiturates include:

  • Amytal
  • Alurate
  • Vesparax
  • Soneryl
  • Prominal

Barbiturate withdrawal symptoms often tend to mimic the symptoms that are present when someone stops drinking alcohol. Typical withdrawal symptoms include:

  • A high risk of convulsions or seizures
  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Weakness in the body
  • Sleep disturbances and insomnia
  • Dangerously high fevers
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Extreme agitation
  • Nausea and vomiting

Acute barbiturate withdrawal symptoms are usually felt with eight to sixteen hours of the last dose. Symptoms may linger for as long as fifteen days, but they are the most severe at the beginning of the withdrawal period.

Withdrawal Timeline for Benzodiazepines

Benzodiazepines are typically prescribed to treat issues like anxiety, panic disorders and seizures. They can also be given to help patients sleep better at night. Some of the more popular benzodiazepines include:

  • Xanax
  • Klonopin
  • Librium
  • Valium
  • Ativan
  • Restoril
  • Halcion

Benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms can become quite severe very quickly, and they can include:

  • Increased tension and anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Hand tremors
  • Problems with concentration
  • A risk of seizures
  • A risk of psychotic reactions
  • Upset stomach

Most benzodiazepine withdrawal symptoms will begin within the first 24 hours after the last dose of the drug. These symptoms will usually peak by the end of the second week, and then begin to diminish. However, it is not unusual for people to experience symptoms for months after the medications have been stopped.

Withdrawal Timeline for Opiates

Opiates, or opioids as they are often called, is one of the most highly abused classifications of prescription medications. These medications are usually given to treat pain, but they should only be used in the short-term. All too often, people take them for much longer than they should, leading to addictions. Some of the different types of opioid medications include:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Lorcet
  • Lortab
  • Norco
  • Vicodin
  • Dilaudid
  • Demerol
  • Oxycodone or OxyContin
  • Percocet

Opioid withdrawal is divided into early withdrawal and late withdrawal stages. The most common withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Tearing of the eyes
  • A runny nose
  • Constant yawning
  • Trouble sleeping at night
  • Agitation
  • Profuse sweating
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea and abdominal cramps

Withdrawal for opiates usually begins by the twelfth hour after the last dose has been taken. Symptoms will generally peak by the 48-hour mark, and they last for around five to ten days. Although there are some types of opiates (such as methadone) that have symptoms that can last for as long as four weeks.

Withdrawal Timeline for Sedatives and Tranquilizers

Sedatives and tranquilizers are medications that are generally given to help people sleep at night when they suffer from insomnia. They can also be used to treat anxiety disorders. Some of the more commonly prescribed sedatives include:

  • Ambien
  • Librium
  • Lunesta
  • Sonata
  • Zimovane

These medications are very powerful, and should only be taken for a short period of time. When addiction occurs, withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to manage, and they can include:

  • Feelings of paranoia
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Insomnia and fatigue
  • Feelings of confusion
  • Depression symptoms
  • Strange sensory perceptions
  • Flu-like symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms will generally start within two days of the last dose if the medication is fast-acting. For those that are longer-acting, withdrawal symptoms may not begin for up to ten days. Once they start, they can persist for a few days or weeks. There have even been instances when people experienced them for years after their last use.

The Detox Process Explained for Those Quitting their Prescription Medication

The misuse of prescription drugs often leads to a dangerous addiction cycle that is nearly impossible to break without professional help and guidance. The very first step in recovering from a prescription medication addiction is prescription drug detox, which is the process of removing the toxins from the body that have been left behind because of the drug use. These toxins are what lead to the withdrawal symptoms, and so, detoxification can actually shorten the length of the withdrawal phase while it also helps to ease the difficulty of withdrawal at the same time.

Choosing a Detox Program or Going it Alone

When considering whether or not to go to a prescription drug detox program, or to attempt to detox on your own, it's wise to think about the issues that may arise if an at-home detox is attempted. There are those who have tried to stop using their prescription medications with a variety of different methods on their own, but doing so carries some serious risks. In the event of a medical complication, professional help may not be able to be reached fast enough to intervene. You may be considering giving quitting a try on your own first before you reach out for help, but this can be very dangerous.

What to Expect During Medical Detox From Prescription Drugs

During medical detox, the first step is to go through the intake process. During this assessment, being completely honest about your prescription drug use, and any other addictions you may have is absolutely critical. Only then will you be able to reap the benefits of everything that prescription drug detox has to offer you. Omitting important details can put your health at risk, and it can actually rob you of benefits you might be able to experience that will aid you during your detoxification.

Once the intake is complete, you will be talking with a physician or members of the treatment team regarding your treatment plan. You will discuss the various steps that will be taken, whether that means a plan to wean you off your medication slowly, introduce other medications to help you cope with withdrawal symptoms, or have you stop taking the medication completely.

During medical detox, you'll be observed and monitored very carefully to ensure your safety during the process. You'll meet with a nutritionist and plan your meals, which will include nutrient-rich foods that will provide you with the vitamins and minerals your diet may be missing. You'll also get plenty of physical activity each day, and both of these components will speed up the process of detox.

Types of Detox Programs for Those Addicted to Medication

There are a number of different methods that are currently being used for prescription drug detox.

Holistic Detox - During this process, patients are allowed to detox from prescription medications naturally, and they're supported by changes to their diets, physical exercise and through various other holistic methods. Holistic detox is gaining in popularity, and many experts in the addiction treatment field actually believe that in many cases, it is the safest way to detox from prescription drugs because there is no risk of becoming addicted to any other type of drug in the process. Those who undergo holistic detox tend to have much higher success rates in long term recovery.

Medical Detox - During medical detox, certain medications are administered for the purpose of helping patients get through their withdrawal symptoms and to purge the body of toxins at the same time. These medications have been approved by the FDA for this purpose, and this method is considered to be very appropriate for those who are at a high risk for dangerous complications that may arise because of the detox process.

Rapid Detox - Rapid detox is a method that is not used as frequently as the other two methods of detoxification. It works by administering general anesthesia to a patient and then giving him or her additional drugs to get rid of toxins in the body. There are some instances when the process is completed within thirty minutes, or it can take as long as several hours. The general anesthesia makes rapid detox quite risky, and it may also be very painful for the patient.

Medication Tapering - This method of prescription drug detox allows patients to taper down their dosages of certain medications very slowly. This is often used in patients who have become addicted to antipsychotic drugs, or other medications that can be dangerous to stop abruptly.

There is no one right method for prescription drug detox that will work for everyone who needs it. Every patient needs to be assessed according to his or her own medical history before making a determination regarding the type of detox that would be appropriate.

Determining Your Length of Stay at Prescription Medication Detox

Your length of stay is a variable number that is going to be determined by a number of different factors. These might include:

  • What types of prescription drugs you have been using
  • The method you used to take prescription medications
  • How much of your medications you have been taking
  • How long you have been addicted to prescription drugs
  • Your own personal response to the detox process

Many patients find that they feel better enough to complete prescription medication detox within a week's time, and there are those who need to stay longer before they feel ready to move on to the next phase of their treatment; prescription drug rehab.

What is the Typical Experience for Patients During Prescription Drug Detox?

Most patients feel that going to prescription drug detox was an excellent decision for them. They are able to feel better much quickly than if they were to try to stop using on their own. They're also provided with unconditional support and nursing care around the clock, which helps them to feel safe during the detox process. Many of the most typical withdrawal symptoms are easily treated through detoxification, which makes the process much easier on the mind and on the body.

Detoxification Program Options

You do have a lot of different options available to you when it comes to going through detox. This is a service that is provided in a wide variety of settings, and these include:

State Supported Detox - These facilities often have larger populations of patients, and they are funded by the state.

Luxury Detox - These detox centers are generally much smaller than state detox facilities. Many of them do participate with health insurance companies, which means that patients are able to get help paying for their treatment. Quite often, luxury detox centers also have prescription drug rehab programs as well, which can make the transition into the next phase of treatment very easy.

Outpatient Prescription Drug Detox - Outpatient detox is an option many people appreciate, but it's not one that's always appropriate for everyone. It may be considered for patients who have a strong support system at home, as long as an excellent drug rehab program immediately follows detox.

Vacation Prescription Medication Detox - It is possible to go away from home for the purpose of detoxing from prescription medications, and some people will actually choose to leave the country on vacation to go to detox. These facilities are generally luxury centers that also offer rehab.

How to Find the Best Prescription Drug Detox that Fits your Needs and Budget

A quick look online will tell you that your options for prescription medication detox are plentiful. There are many different centers that offer this service, but it makes sense for you to be concerned about the costs associated with getting professional help. Fortunately, you don't have to worry about paying for it out of your pocket if you have health insurance, as most people do.

You may be familiar with the Affordable Care Act, but what you might not realize is that this new piece of legislation made it possible for those who have addictions to get help paying for the treatment they need. This includes prescription drug detox services. Health insurance companies are now required to help cover these costs, at least in part. This change in our country's healthcare laws has made it possible for so many people to get professional help when they need it the most.

The best way to find out more about what your health insurance plan offers for prescription medication detox is to contact a detox facility that participates with your plan. The individual you speak with will be able to maximize your benefits to bring your costs down.

Common Questions About Prescription Medication Detox

People often have a lot of questions about prescription medication detox, and it is important to get these questions answered so that you are informed.

Is it Possible to Detox from Prescription Medications at Home?

Because we are not your doctor, we are not able to provide you with a personal recommendation to detox at home. This process is generally not recommended by most healthcare providers, but those who attempt it are usually advised to take several precautions.

  • Drink plenty of water and other healthy fluids. Drinking as much as you can will help to flush toxins out of your body.
  • Exercise regularly to lose fat and to increase how much you sweat. Toxins are released from the body through sweat.
  • Consider taking body-cleansing supplements. Milk thistle and Uva ursi are both said to be good at cleansing the liver and helping to process toxins.
  • Eat a healthy diet that is complete with many fruits and vegetables. Add organic meats and plenty of fiber to help flush waste from the body.
  • Consider doing a food fast at the beginning of the detox as a way to focus your body on getting rid of toxins and not on digestion.
  • Never attempt to do a prescription drug detox alone. There should always be someone available who can help you in the event of an emergency.

Is it OK to Stop Using Prescription Medications Cold Turkey?

Stopping prescription medications cold turkey is often very difficult on the body, and it can result in medical complications that most people are not prepared to handle. For many, cold turkey quitting might seem like the right solution; especially for those who did not intend to become addicted to their prescription medications. Even so, if you're planning to stop using prescription drugs on your own, it's best to talk with a doctor about the best way to taper down your dosage so that you can quit safely.

What are the Benefits of Medical Detox?

There are many benefits associated with going to medical detox when you're suffering with a prescription medication addiction. You'll have all the support you need during the process of detoxification, and you'll have the benefit of professional knowledge as you detox too. The physical and mental withdrawal symptoms are the worst part of stopping the use of prescription drugs, and medical detox can alleviate those for you, or at least lessen their severity. Best of all, the detox process causes the withdrawal timeline to be cut short, which means you'll be feeling much better faster.

How Much Does Prescription Drug Detox Cost?

This is a difficult question to answer because the costs associated with prescription drug detox are going to be different for everyone. Costs vary based on the type of detox you need and how long you'll need to stay. Usually, patients plan to go right on to prescription drug rehab once the detox process has been completed. In these cases, the costs of detox are often lumped in with the costs of rehab. Fortunately, health insurance companies are required to pay for this type of addiction treatment, and so any out of pocket costs for you are going to be very minimal.

Where Can I Find Information on How to Apply for Insurance to Cover the Cost of Detox?

You can apply for health insurance by visiting and filling out an application.

What are the Dangers Associated with Prescription Drug Detox?

There are many dangers associated with prescription medication detox, which is why it is so important to go through this process in a medical setting with plenty of support. People who attempt to detox on their own from prescription drugs will often run into medical complications they weren't expecting. They may suffer from seizures, heart complications, mental confusion, depression and there is even a risk of death.

What Can You do if Someone You Love Has an Addiction But Doesn't Want to Go to Detox?

People often don't want to take the first step and begin the process of going to detox on their own. For families, this can cause a lot of anguish and stress, and many of them don't know what they can do. There are a lot of drug treatment facilities that offer intervention services, and that is an excellent place to begin. Interventions have high success rates, and many people actually enter into treatment immediately afterwards.

Free Help and Online Resources for Those Addicted to Their Prescription Medications

There are a number of different ways you can find the help you want right on the Internet if you're addicted to prescription drugs and not ready to seek out treatment yet.

  • SMART Recovery is an online support group that helps those who are addicted to prescription drugs.
  • Pills Anonymous offers online support as well as in-person meetings for those with prescription medication addictions around the world.
  • Prescription Drug Support Groups is a site that allows you to connect with others who have addictions and support each other.
  • Narcotics Anonymous, or NA, is an organization that offers support groups for those with drug addictions. These meetings are great places to form friendships and connections with others.
  • Al-Anon is an organization that offers help and support to families who have loved ones with drug addictions. They are open to helping adults, children and teens.
  • A prescription drug addiction doesn't have to be a life sentence. Going to prescription medication detox can make such a difference and help you get on the right track toward a successful recovery.

Talk to a Rehab Specialist

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