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How is substance abuse of prescription drugs treated?

Dr. Mike Dow, PsyD
Addiction Medicine

If you're addicted to prescription drugs, the treatment is similar to what doctors use for alcohol or illegal drug addiction, says addiction specialist Dr. Mike Dow. Learn more by watching this video.


Fredrick Wade
Addiction Medicine

Abuse of prescription drugs are treated with detoxification and counseling. The drugs most abused, which are addictive, are Opioids and Benzodiazepine. Of note is the fact that many people who abuse these substances have pain management, anxiety disorders, or may suffer with insomnia. For this reason they are often first exposed to these substances by their physician and become what is known as medically addicted due to their legitimate need for the drug. This as you can see adds a rather unique twist to the treatment episode. Still treatment will include detoxification, various forms of counseling dependent on the drug and how the person became exposed to the drug, as well as helping patients to feel safe to talk with their physician about their problem. This can be a particularly overwhelming part of their treatment as there is the concurrent fear of being in pain without the support of the drug. Treatment does work and alternative medical approaches can be brought to bear for those who become addicted to these medications. In these cases I always utilize the services of an Addictionologist in order to create the best adjunctive support to the addiction counseling services being rendered.     

Substance abuse of prescription drugs is treated with rehabilitation and detoxification.  Physiological symptoms and psychological issues are treated are part of the treatment plan.

There are three different medications to treat addiction to opioid drugs like heroin, oxycodone or other pain killers. Methadone is an effective approach for chronic opioid addiction that can be provided only within a special program. Buprenorphine / naloxone and naltrexone can be part of treatment plans in a variety of clinical settings.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.