Prescription Drugs Detox - Managing Withdrawals & Treatments

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What Is Prescription Drug Addiction?

Prescription drug addiction refers to an addiction to prescription medication, such as opiate addiction, benzodiazepine, anti-depressants, etch. In most cases, a doctor may prescribe a specific drug for pain management which ends up being misused.

Detoxification is the safe process of eliminating harmful substances from your body. (1) These substances are then allowed to flush away from your body.

Detox from prescription drugs should only be done under medical supervision, as the process is likely to cause some severe withdrawal symptoms, as a result of the chemicals leaving your body. These symptoms can be life threatening, and you will need a professional to help you through the process.

The majority of prescription drugs misuses in the UK is comprised of:

  • Prescription painkillers
  • Co-codamol (Solpadol or Kapake)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Pregabalin (Lyrica, Alzain, Lecaent, Rewisca)
  • Opioid drugs and Painkillers (Tramadol/Ultram, Hydrocodone/Vicodin, Oxycodone/OxyContin)
  • Anti-depressants (Citalopram/ Celexa and Amitriptylin/Elavil)
  • Stimulants (Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin)

The use of these drugs is prompted by a legitimate health concern such as chronic pain or insomnia. But with time, some individuals develop a tolerance for the prescribed medicine, where larger and larger doses are needed in order to experience the same relief from (e.g.) chronic pain.

Most did not set out to become addicted to medication and subsequently can seek drug addiction treatment at the NHS.

However, because of limited funding, these public treatment options can be less than ideal.

For a more comprehensive form of treatment, individuals often get a hold of specialists in a rehab clinic such as Abbeycare.

At Abbeycare clinic, we offer medical and psychological care for all our patients. We understand the common withdrawal symptoms for example, when going through opioid drugs withdrawal that can cause severe symptoms.

You may wonder how we can use medicated assisted treatment when experiencing withdrawal symptoms from prescription medications, but there are lots of other drugs that can be used, although due to the nature of addiction, sometimes we may not use any medication to treat this addiction.

The most common opioid withdrawal symptoms include;

  • Excessive sweating,
  • Muscle aches
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Depression

These are however the same symptoms for benzodiazepine withdrawal and other prescription drugs.

The first step towards treatment usually is to seek medical detox, and then you can proceed to a medication assisted treatment.

What Prescription Drugs Are Most Prone to Misuse?

Prescribed drugs or medicines most prone to misuse, abuse, and addiction are described in this section. Succinctly given in detail are physical symptoms of addiction to these medications.

Co-codamol (Solpadol or Kapake)

Used for: pain relief; can ease headaches, migraines, and toothaches

Physical Symptoms of addiction: decreased appetite, moodiness, anxiety, sleepiness, clammy hands and feet

Popular appeal: individuals use co-codamol as a stronger drug to cope with routine causes of pain when aspirin an ibuprofen does not seem effective anymore.

The treatment process causes serious withdrawal symptoms. During drug rehab, you are likely to experience both physical and psychological symptoms.

Diazepam (Valium)

Used for: treatment of anxiety and panic attacks

Physical Symptoms of addiction: clumsiness/ loss of coordination; decreased appetite, sleepiness, shaking/tremors

Popular appeal: Largely referred to as “Valium”, diazepam is part of a group of drugs called benzodiazepines, which emerged as a safer form of anti-depressant drug than older types of anti-depressants.

Because diazepam was freely prescribed during the early years when the drug’s addictive component was not yet fully known, diazepam use became widespread. The drug’s calming effect can reportedly quell feelings of panic.

These drugs are also used as central nervous system depressants and the medical detox requires medication assisted treatment. Mental health resources say that the withdrawal process is likely to be life threatening.

Benzodiazepine withdrawal starts with a drug detox which can cause severe drug withdrawal syndromes such as confusion, muscle aches and hallucinations.

During the drug detox, the doctors will use other drugs to help with the drug abuse symptoms that are similar to alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol)

Used for: treatment of anxiety, sleep disorders, and seizure disorders; can also be used as a relaxant that eases tension in the muscles

Physical Symptoms of addiction: clumsy/ loss of coordination, speech is slurred, slow to react, seems confused a lot, forgetfulness

Popular appeal: This drug is strongly associated with drug-facilitated sexual assault, involving both men and women. The drug is often referred to as a “date rape drug”. Offenders mix the drug into the intended target’s drink. After ingestion, the victim is rendered unconscious or irresponsive.

Addiction treatment for Flunitrazepam will have some severe withdrawal symptoms, and although the withdrawal symptoms vary from one person to another, it is wise to manage withdrawal symptoms in the hands of professional medical detox doctors.

Gabapentin (Neurontin)

Used for: treatment of nerve pain, epilepsy and restless leg syndrome; treats nerve damage (neuropathy), can promote calm and/or help a person fall asleep

Physical Symptoms of addiction: Clumsy/ loss of coordination; speech is not clear, heart palpitations, ‘zombie-like’ state, moodiness

Popular appeal: Combining gabapentin with opioid painkillers like hydrocodone is reported to make a person feel euphoric or blissful.

Medical professionals will help you though the detox period. A good residential rehabilitation clinic will help you when trying to quit cold turkey. In the end you should achieve physical stability and reduce the intense cravings of the drugs.

This is similar to opioid dependence and the drug users are likely to require serious medical assistance due to the sudden absence of the drug in the body.

Pregabalin (Lyrica, Alzain, Lecaent, Rewisca)

Used for: treatment of epilepsy and anxiety, shingles, painful diabetic neuropathy (injured nerves), or any other painful injury

Physical Symptoms of addiction: Similar to gabapentin, these are clumsiness, unclear speech, heart palpitations, ‘zombie-like’ state, and moodiness

Popular appeal: Dubbed the “new Valium”. Both Pregabalin and Gabpentin were previously prescribed medicines that can be accessed using electronic prescriptions. Their widespread use became prone to misuse when persons started combining the drugs with heroin and other opiates. At present, both Pregabalin and Gabpentin are reclassified as class C controlled substances.

During addiction treatment, the drug users are likely to experience some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms due to the prescription drugs, and the most common drug withdrawal symptoms as per the World Health Organization and NCBI, are hot and cold flashes and high blood pressure. (2)

Quitting the drug cold turkey will require the supervision of treatment providers for withdrawal management.

Drug dependence treatment of pregabalin includes behavioral therapy, and mental health support to eliminate the substance use disorder.

Call Abbeycare clinic today for a free confidential assessment.

Opioid Painkillers (Tramadol/Ultram®, Hydrocodone/Vicodin®, Oxycodone/OxyContin®)

Used for: long-lasting (chronic) pain, post-operative pain, cancer pain, cancer breakthrough pain

Symptoms of addiction: Increased drowsiness or sleepiness, person seems to have flu more often; unexplained weight loss

Popular appeal: These types of drugs reportedly elicit blissful feelings aside form pain relief. The use of Opioid Painkillers poses high risk for overdose, especially when it is partnered with alcohol consumption. Overdosing on Opioid Painkillers can be countered by using a naloxone kit provided by the NHS.

Opiate withdrawal symptoms are perhaps the most severe and when combined with alcohol withdrawal symptoms, drug rehab can be pretty difficult.

Drug detox could be life threatening, and therefore requires treatment providers to accurately provide other drugs that can ease withdrawal symptoms during the drug detox.

This is not a process that can be done at home. The drug consumption could have also brought on mental health issues, and long term withdrawal symptom’s must be well managed.

Withdrawal management for opioid addiction is vital for success of the drug detox.

Anti-depressants (Citalopram/ Celexa® and Amitriptylin/Elavil®)

Used for: Treatment of depression, neuropathic (nerve damage pain), chronic tension headache/migraine;

Symptoms of addiction Citalopram and Amitriptylin: changes in appetite, strange sleep patterns, slurred speech

Popular appeal: Both these drugs can be used in combination with other illicit drugs to heighten the feeling of euphoria. Some persons also make use of these drugs as “downers” to counter the effect of stimulants. Amitriptylin is sometimes prescribed to treat bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis) in children aged 6 years and above as a last resort.

Drug abuse for these specific prescription drugs is very easy. The feeling of relaxation when using anti-depressants is on that’s sought after by most people.

Additionally, during drug detox, the drug withdrawal symptoms are similar to severe alcohol withdrawal and can be life threatening. Medical detox must strictly be done under medical supervision.

This is similar to opioid withdrawal.

Stimulants (Adderall® Concerta®, Ritalin®)

Used for: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); Narcolepsy (a disorder characterised by falling asleep involuntarily when feeling relaxed)

Symptoms of addiction: Feeling high (euphoric feelings), increased blood pressure, rapid heart rate

Popular appeal: These drugs help persons who have difficulty concentrating to keep focus on tasks at hand. Thrill seeking is associated with the casual use of the drug, as it can bring about a high or a “buzz”.

The National Institute on drug abuse compares this to opioid medications and the withdrawal period is characterized by long term withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal management is vital for success.

Drug rehab will help during drug detox as the national institute on drug abuse states that drug dependence of anti-depressants is fatal.

General Physical Symptoms of Prescription Drug Withdrawal

Physical symptoms of prescription drug withdrawal vary widely. However, a general guide is that withdrawal management is necessary to deal with the following symptoms:

  • Sensitive to stress/ easily irritated
  • Problems coordinating movements
  • Sleeps all the time or has a hard time sleeping
  • Emotionally reactive or does not react at all (numb)
  • Cannot think clearly/ out of focus/ easily distracted
  • Memory problems

Opioid withdrawal, is more severe and the drug detox process can be dangerous when done without supervision.

Specific Details for Selected Prescription Drug Withdrawal

Withdrawal for Diazepam (Valium®) can be most intense 2 to 4 days after last use.

Withdrawal for Flunitrazepam (Rohypnol®), half of the effect is gone within 18-26 hours; the drug can stay a few more hours more before complete elimination.

Withdrawal symptoms from Stimulants like Adderall®, Concerta®, and Ritalin® can be most demanding 10 hours after the drug is consumed.

Withdrawal from Gabapentin begins 1 to 2 days after a person suddenly stops using the drug. Symptoms of withdrawal are very much similar to withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and diazepam (Valium®).

Specific opioid withdrawal symptoms start within 12hours after the last dose. During the drug detox the following specific withdrawal symptoms will occur:

  • Heart beating too fast
  • Bone or Joint aches
  • Runny nose or tearing
  • Vomiting, diarrhoea
  • Tremor, especially hand tremor
  • Yawning
  • Gooseflesh skin

General Psychological Symptoms of Prescription Drug Withdrawal

Even as physical symptoms of withdrawal from prescription drugs vary, the pattern for psychological dependence is similar, no matter the type of drug abused.

These psychological signs of drug withdrawal are described below:

  • Needing a higher dose of the prescribed medicine to achieve its effects
  • Needing a daily dose “just to feel normal”; without the drug, the person would find it challenging to carry on with daily activities
  • The person takes more prescription medicine than originally intended.
  • The person plans daily activities around the use of the drugs.
  • Skipping previously enjoyed activities especially with family in order to spend more time procuring r taking the drug
  • Secretive behaviour surrounding the procurement of prescribed medicine
  • Anger and irritability when hindered from obtaining the drug

Prescription Drugs Withdrawal Timeline

The duration prescription medicine withdrawal depends on what kind of medication is taken. For example opioid withdrawal tends to take longer than others. But also, how much drug is taken and how long it has been taken must be considered.

The severity of the drug detox withdrawal symptoms will also depend on how severe the addiction was. This is also made worse when treatment is combined with alcohol withdrawal.

However, a general guide is provided below:

Day 1 to Day 3

Initial symptoms include cravings, flu-like symptoms, insomnia, and anxiety

Day 4 to 7

Usually withdrawal symptoms peak during this period. The following are common complaints:

  • Irritability/ anger
  • Low feelings including guilt, worthlessness, sadness
  • Persistent insomnia
  • Vomiting/nausea
  • Fever
  • Cravings for prescription drugs
  • Spaced out/ confused/easily distracted

Day 7 to 10

During these days, a person can feel better enough to transition from detox to the rehab therapy stage. Although still new to not having prescription medicine as a part of daily routine, if adequately supported, the individual is expected to come through with ease.

Prescription Drugs Treatment

Prescription drugs treatment has three distinct phases: detox (withdrawal), rehab, and aftercare.

What Is Prescription Drugs Detox?

Because most individuals use prescription medicines for legitimate health concerns, detox from these medications means professional help is needed.

It is crucial that the person is treated for the chief health care concern, but the misuse of a prescribed medicine is prevented. For example, if a person is suffering from severe pain, it would not be safe to stop pain medication. In a supportive setting such as a rehab clinic, there would be ways to address the needs of persons suffering from severe pain even as they are recovering from pain medication addiction.

Alternative medications and gradual scaling down of the substance misused can be part of the steps taken in prescription drugs detox. In both methods, professional supervision from an addictions specialist is crucial.

Other reasons why a detox done in a residential programme is valuable include:

  • Access to professional help 24/7
  • Help with alcohol withdrawal as well.
  • Empathic, dedicated, and experienced staff
  • A residential rehab programme is set up in such a way that detox is not the end-all be-all, but as part of a long-term recovery goal

Rehab for Prescription Drugs Addiction

After a successful detox, clients in a rehab centre can have individual or group therapy sessions. There are many approaches in rehab therapy, but the methods proven effective are:

  • Individual Addiction Keywork Sessions
  • Group Therapeutic Work (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
  • 12-Step Facilitation
  • Family Support Groups

In a rehab clinic with a whole-person outlook, like Abbeycare, Holistic Therapy is also on the offer. This is inclusive of alcohol withdrawal, in case you are addicted to both at the same time.

Therapy in rehab is focused on probing deeper into motivations causing addiction to prescription medicines. These deeper reasons may emerge during treatment and are likely to cause emotional reactions. Hence, guidance from addiction specialists may be valuable in order to cope with the stress of changing a lifestyle pattern.

Prescription Drugs Rehab Aftercare

At Abbeycare detox clinic, aftercare is treated as one of the most critical aspects of long-term recovery from prescription drug addiction.

A person recovering from active addiction would need to depend on a strong social support system, composed of family and friends. In addition, to be pro-active, rehab aftercare involves formulating a detailed plan.

In the aftercare plan, these elements are explicitly spelled out:

  • What activities the person will do whilst in recovery
  • How life in recovery is foreseen to be
  • Practical considerations during recovery (who to call, where to go for meetings, etc.)
  • How to deal with emotional concerns during recovery (triggers, prevention plan, etc.)
  • Arrangements with a personal sponsor

 In a rehab centre like Abbeycare, a dedicated case manager is responsible for anticipating a client’s needs during and after rehab. Because addiction can be characterised as chaotic, having a solid plan can bolster a person’s chances of kicking prescription medication addiction for good.


Is it safe to detox from prescription drugs at home by myself?

Not really, this is not recommended. It is not a safe practice to detox alone at home, because withdrawal management is vital.

Most people who take prescription medicines do so to alleviate symptoms form a health concern. The chances of serious harm are exacerbated if the person tries to detox in a sudden manner. A&E incidents from detox without professional guidance are usually because of:

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heart beat (too slow or too fast)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Hallucinations/ Disorientation
  • Suicide attempts

How is outpatient detox different from inpatient?

Outpatient detox is done from home, while inpatient is done from a rehab facility. Most public outpatient programs, are facilitated by NHS Drop-in clinics. The drop-in clinic is a form of community-based treatment option which any UK citizen can access for free.

Outpatient clinics by the NHS mean:

  • The individual can live at home and continue with normal activities whilst recovering from drug addiction.
  • Methadone or buprenorphine treatment as a primary means of treating prescription medicine addiction
  • Having a keyworker to monitor progress
  • Training in naloxone administration (in case of overdose)
  • Training in the safe use/procurement/disposal of injecting equipment
  • Completion of drug use/treatment diaries
  • Urine and oral fluid samples for monitoring progress

 Choosing a private inpatient rehab means a client stays at a clinic with a structured programme in place. The duration of the stay is 28 days, on average. The goal is to have a predictable, controlled environment where a client is supported by experts in addiction rehab.

The NHS does provide public inpatient rehab, but the long waiting times can deter individuals from enquiring about the process. For ease of admissions and high quality care, dial Abbeycare direct.

Can I use the prescription drugs again after rehab?

No. As an abstinence-based centre, Abbeycare believes in discontinuing prescriptive drug use permanently after completing the rehab process. Health care practitioners would be able to provide suitable substitutes to treat the health care concern that prompted the use of the prescribed medicine in the first place.

Knowledgeable specialists usually consult a list of safe medications especially intended for persons in addiction recovery. These medications, combined with comprehensive rehab aftercare support bolster long-term recovery for prescription medication addiction.

 How much does prescription medicine detox/rehab treatment cost?

This depends on the clinic you choose to use for your detox withdrawal management and rehab. To get an answer instantly, use the Abbeybot below.

Or contact us directly for specific enquiries.

The price for treatment is subject to agreement from Abbeycare’s admissions and clinical teams, following the initial conversation.

How long does prescription medicine detox/rehab treatment last?

It depends. Typically, detox can last from 2-12 weeks. Rehab usually can take up to 28 days.

However, the duration of a person’s stay depends on:

  • What type of prescription drug(s) taken
  • Dosage of the drug(s) taken
  • How much of the substance was taken
  • Symptoms that cause most concern
  • Other health or emotional concerns that the person may experience alongside prescription medication misuse


If you want more questions answered about presctiontion dugs, read our prescription drugs FAQ page.

How To Book

To book into Abbeycare for Prescription Drugs help, call our enquiry line direct on 01603 513 091.


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