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Prescription Drug Addiction: Information and Treatment

Do you have a prescription drug problem?Prescription Drugs are Addictive Too

  • Do you take more medication than prescribed?
  • Do you need to take increasing amounts of your medication to "feel the effects"?
  • Are your friends or family members saying there's a problem?
  • Do you go to more than one doctor to get prescriptions for the same or similar medications?
  • Do you lie to health care professionals in order to get prescriptions?
  • Do you continue to take excessive amounts of prescription drugs despite negative consequences (fatigue, dizziness, nausea)?
  • Have you ever tried to control or stop your use of prescription drugs without success?

If you answered "Yes" to one or more of these questions, you may have a problem with prescription drugs.  Please keep reading for further information and helpful resources.

Addiction to Prescription Medications: A Growing Problem

Prescription Drug Abuse is Serious

Prescription drug abuse is growing at an alarming rate in the United States.  According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health published in 2004, more than 6.3 million Americans reported current use of prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in the previous year. 

Opiates or opiate-related drugs such as hydrocodone prescribed for pain relief are becoming the leading type of drug that leads to addiction.  For example, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) published a study in late 2010 showing that the treatment admission rate for opiates other than heroin (like narcotic pain relievers) rose 345% from 1998-2008.

Short and Long-Term Effects of Prescription Drug Abuse

The effects of prescription drug abuse vary depending on the type of medication being abused. These are general short- and long-term effects:

Short-term effects can include:

Long-term effects can include:

Opioids (opiates), including OxyContin, Oxycodone (Percocet), Hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, etc.:

  • Euphoria
  • Sedation/drowsiness
  • Impaired thinking
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired coordination
  • Blocked pain messages
  • Depressed respiration/overdose/death
  • Constipation

CNS Depressants (such as benzodiazepines, i.e. Valium, Ativan, Xanax or barbiturates such as phenobarbital)

  • Drowsiness
  • Slowing of the heart rate
  • Low blood pressure
  • Feelings of euphoria
  • Slowed/impaired motor coordination
  • Memory loss
  • Impaired thinking
  • Depressed respiration/overdose/death

 Stimulants(i.e. amphetamines such as Dexedrine and Adderall):

  • Euphoria
  • Increased alertness and energy
  • Depressed appetite
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Increased heart rate and respiration
  • Elevated blood pressure


  • Potential for tolerance, physical dependence, withdrawal and/or addiction
  • Severe respiratory depression leading to death
  • Liver damage

CNS Depressants:

  • Potential for tolerance, physical dependence and addiction
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as seizure, anxiety, paranoia, insomnia, and psychosis when use is lessened or discontinued
  • Impaired memory
  • Liver damage


  • Tolerance
  • Cardiovascular failure or lethal seizures
  • Severe weight loss
  • Physical deterioration
  • Hostility or feelings of paranoia

Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction

Drug Rehab Programs Available from Support Systems Homes

At Support Systems Homes, we provide a variety of effective treatments and services for addiction to prescription medications.  Depending on which rehab method would be most successful, we may combine several of the following.  

All treatments are given at our California rehab centers by certified medical professionals.

Many types of prescription medication cause severe addiction when used over time.  Withdrawal from the medication is painful, and can be dangerous to your health.  This is why we always perform a detox in our rehab centers, where a nurse or doctor is monitoring you the whole time.

Detoxification helps you stabilize physically.  Support Systems staff helps you cope with cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.  Afterward we help you find a suitable longer-term rehab program, such as residential treatment.

Residential Treatment (Residential Drug Rehab):
Clients participating in residential treatment leave their home environment to live in a safe, supervised setting for 30 days or more.  In this structured setting, you can focus completely on recovering from prescription drug addiction.

Participants receive drug education, individual counseling, group counseling, family counseling, introduction to community-based self-help groups such as Narcotics Anonymous, and referrals to community resources.  We help you develop a plan to achieve and maintain long-term abstinence. 

Residential treatment also offers the chance to form support networks with others in recovery, and to learn about making healthy lifestyle choices (nutrition, exercise).

Outpatient Treatment:
More intensive treatment regimens may be followed by outpatient treatment – regular structured therapeutic group/individual counseling several days a week.  Outpatient treatment usually lasts several months.  Outpatient participants are those who are stabilized in terms of their drug use, and who are appropriate for a level of care that isn't monitored or structured 24/7.

Community-Based Self-Help Groups:
These groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Pills Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, along with non-12 step based programs, are designed to help addicts attain long-term abstinence while gaining new tools and support networks to deal with their addictions.


Call Support Systems Homes for Help with Prescription Drug Abuse

Addiction to prescription medications needs professional treatment, like any other abused drug.  Support Systems Homes' rehab programs cover prescription drug detox, treatment for addiction, and supportive rehab centers.

If you or someone you know suffers from prescription drug abuse in Northern California, call us at (800) 811-1800 to discuss treatment options.  Or email us at


Further Resources and Information

Narcotics Anonymous
(Support, links to meetings, phone lines and information)

(Support, links to meetings, phone lines and information for families/friends of addicts)

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
(Information and education about prescription drug addiction)

Pills Anonymous
(Drug Treatment Support, links to meetings, phone lines and information)

(Information, educational materials, treatment facility locator, and statistics regarding addiction)

SAMHSA's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI)

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