prescription drug abuse

Most Americans use or have used prescription drugs to treat various medical issues in their lifetime. However, a growing percentage of adults and even minors will use and abuse these prescription drugs for a nonmedical purpose. Unfortunately, this almost always leads to a dangerous addiction, leaving people in need of professional treatment.

One of the common statements made by people undergoing prescription drug abuse treatment is that they did not recognize the moment in time when it shifted from recreational use to full-blown drug addiction. This is one of the hardest realities of prescription drug addiction. After all, once you have crossed the line and develop a physical addiction, it literally physically harms you. Your body now requires the drug in order to function “normally”.

Continual abuse causes many individuals to continue in their addiction rather than quit substance use. This is because it can be so painful and even deadly to achieve on one’s own. 

The Dangers of Prescription Drug Abuse

For individuals with medical conditions and/or mental health issues, prescription drugs can provide a healthier and even happier life. However, many individuals use or abuse prescription drugs for reasons that have nothing to do with their medical condition and/or mental health issues. These individuals take prescription medications recreationally. Sadly, this is a very common practice for many across the United States and sadly, even the entire world. 

Most individuals who abuse or are addicted to prescription drugs tend to think that their substance misuse has no real negative impact on their lives or those that love or care for them. However, if the person doesn’t get treatment for addiction, it can lead to various issues. 

Serious personal and financial problems, further drug addictions (when they lose access to or can not locate their drug of choice), and even death could result from an addiction. Since many prescription medications are physically addictive, people often require a medical detox in addition to other addiction treatments and therapies. 

The Most Commonly Abused Prescription Medications

There are thousands of prescription drugs and most can become physically and mentally addictive. However, some prescription meds are more commonly abused and lead to addiction and the need for treatment.

The most commonly abused prescription medications include but are not limited to:


Sedatives including phenobarbital, pentobarbital, and secobarbital. They work to relieve anxiety, help assist with sleeping, and even prevent certain types of seizures. However, if you take a higher dose than prescribed, addiction is quick to follow. High doses of these prescription drugs will cause difficulty in breathing and this is heightened if the drug is used while drinking alcohol. 

Benzodiazepines (Benzos) 

Alprazolam, clonazepam, and diazepam are just a few examples of benzodiazepines. These prescription drugs are sedatives that can assist with anxiety, panic attacks, and help individuals who have issues with sleep. However, if people abuse these substances or use them for a long period of time, physical addiction may develop. 

Sleeping Pills

A lot of individuals have issues with sleep. This is a commonly occurring problem amongst youth and older adults. Prescription drugs that medical professionals may prescribe for issues with sleep include zolpidem, eszopiclone, and zaleplon.

These prescription drugs can assist people in getting a better night’s sleep. However, those who use or abuse these substances for a while may find themselves developing a physical addiction to them. It can be extremely dangerous to quit using these substances cold turkey and as it leads to physical withdrawal symptoms. 


These types of prescription drugs are the leading cause of addiction and almost always require drug treatment. Codeine and morphine are two very common painkillers in this category of opioids that people abuse.

These types of prescription drugs decrease pain. However, when people use them in large quantities they produce a euphoric high with dangerous and even deadly side effects. Another popular prescription opioid is oxycodone. Individuals who abuse oxycodone will often crush it and snort it, smoke it, or even inject it. This not only increases the risk of addiction but causes an even larger concern of possible overdose. 


Prescription drug stimulants are commonly given to individuals that are diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Often, the prescription drugs given are either amphetamines or methylphenidate.

This class of drugs assists individuals by helping to give them the energy for their bodies to catch up with their overactive brains and thoughts. However, a lot of individuals use stimulants to get high, stay awake, boost energy and alertness levels, and even to lose weight.

Individuals can certainly develop serious addictions to stimulants. High doses of this prescription drug will cause a rise in body temperature, an irregular heartbeat, and even can lead to cardiac arrest. 

Seeking Addiction Treatment For Prescription Drug Addiction And/Or Abuse

Commonly-abused-presciption-drugs-NJRC-V1Prescription drug abuse or addiction is a medical condition that has many obstacles while seeking drug addiction treatment. This is largely due to the fact that it requires a substantial amount of work from the addict to overcome their addiction.

Recovery from prescription drug addiction takes a lot of perseverance and dedication from the individual in order to fully recuperate from the illness of addiction. To further assist in the addiction treatment process, it is important to find the right treatment center. The facility should provide a complete process of prescription drug addiction treatment for recovery.

There are typically three different levels of patient care in an addiction treatment program: medical detox, addiction therapy, and aftercare. Let us explore the options of a comprehensive prescription drug addiction treatment program.

Step One: Detox

The first part of our prescription drug addiction treatment method is called detoxification (detox). This initial step of drug addiction treatment is vital. That’s because it allows the individual to withdraw from substance use without life-threatening concerns. It also keeps people comfortable and in the proper mental state to continue with proper addiction treatment. 

Our detox program at North Jersey Recovery Center will provide our clients with medically assisted treatment to help them get through this first phase of addiction treatment. Withdrawal symptoms will vary based on the kind of prescription drug a person was using. However, most prescription drug abusers and/or addicts experience similar symptoms.

The most common withdrawal symptoms from prescription drug addiction include but are not limited to:

  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Headaches and/or migraines
  • Sleep disturbances and/or insomnia
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Anxiety

Step Two: Inpatient Treatment vs. Outpatient Treatment

One of the first steps you can take before entering a prescription drug addiction treatment program is to get a mental health assessment. North Jersey Recovery Center has trained medical professionals who can help you navigate what is the best addiction treatment program for YOU. The decision of enrolling in an inpatient or an outpatient treatment addiction treatment program is critical. 

Some of the aspects of your prescription drug addiction treatment assessment may include but are not limited to:

  • Relapse History (if any)
  • Physical and mental reliance on prescription drugs
  • Willingness to change (behavior modification)
  • Homelife and/or healthy/positive living situation
  • Mental health history 

Inpatient prescription drug addiction treatment is generally where most individuals will go when they are entering into an addiction treatment program. However, some individuals choose to participate in an outpatient addiction treatment program.

Some choose this route because they fear the commitment that is required with the inpatient level of care. But others may do so because inpatient treatment is often more costly than outpatient rehab. In other cases, people may opt for outpatient treatment because they have personal responsibilities that prevent them from attending an around-the-clock care addiction treatment program.

But, it’s important to note that inpatient prescription drug addiction treatment is the best place for people who are starting their program. This is due to the fact that residential treatment removes people from everyday “triggers”. 

Some people who might benefit from attending an outpatient prescription drug addiction treatment program typically have a less severe addiction or have a strong external support system. This level of prescription drug addiction treatment and care is for those who have a very strong desire to modify their negative behaviors and do not have a long history of prescription drug addiction and/or relapse.

Most commonly, outpatient prescription drug addiction treatment programs are for individuals who are transitioning from inpatient to outpatient treatment.

Step Three: Aftercare

The recovery process from prescription drug abuse does not end once the individual finishes an inpatient and/or outpatient program. Prescription drug addiction aftercare should be recognized as a vital step in ongoing addiction treatment since the desired result is always lasting sobriety and lasting and improved mental health.

The kinds of aftercare for prescription drug abuse treatment options include:

  • Outpatient Addiction Treatment – The individual remains in their home while continuing prescription drug addiction therapy numerous times per week set by a confirmed treatment schedule.
  • Group Therapy – The individual will work in small groups and be taught to listen and communicate with others that share similar life experiences that are related to prescription drug addiction while working to build coping and social skills. 
  • Individual Therapy – The individual continues to meet with a professional therapist(s) once or even several times per week; virtual and/or in-office therapy sessions. 
  • 12 Step Program(s) –  These types of aftercare programs are fellowship based; the most common programs are either Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). These programs offer encouragement and support for the individual as they continue on their path to lasting recovery.

Aftercare is designed to reduce your time requirements during initial treatment whilst still providing a strong support system to help foster lasting sobriety and overall, improved mental health. 

Want to Learn More About Prescription Drug Abuse Treatment? Let Us Help!

We understand that addiction recovery is a very personal journey that does not simply happen overnight. Our dedicated medical and professional staff at North Jersey Recovery Center is committed to assisting our clients in any way that we can. We want you to achieve lasting sobriety and overall health, mentally, emotionally, and physically!

If you or someone you love are seeking quality prescription drug addiction and/or behavioral treatment, there’s hope! We are available around-the-clock to answer any and all of your questions. So please, contact us today and let us help you on the road to recovery!

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Laura Riley

Laura-Riley-Cropped-ProfileLaura Riley, MA, LCADC, CCS is an Administrator with North Jersey Recovery Center.