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Prescription drug abuse rates are rapidly increasing in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the U.S. makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population, yet it is responsible for the consumption of 75 percent of the world’s prescription drugs. Abuse of prescription drugs occurs who the drug is taken in a manner other than its intended purpose such as to get high.

Prescription drug abuse can take over someone's life if help isn't found. It doesn’t have to be this way though. For those who are struggling with prescription drug abuse and addiction, help is only a phone call away.


Prescription drug addiction is the fastest growing addiction in the United States. Like all forms of addiction, this is a disease that is highly treatable with therapy and certain medications, dependent upon the individual and specific drug. There are also programs in place to reduce the rate of relapse, though it is common for multiple courses of treatment to be necessary for recovery.


Before an individual undergoes treatment for a prescription drug addiction, it is vital that he or she completes the detoxification process to rid the body of the drug. This is an important stage of recovery for those addicted to any prescription drug, including opioids, central nervous system depressants and stimulants.

Though some choose to go through this process in the comfort of his or her home, it has proven to be more effective when withdrawal symptoms can be monitored by a trained medical staff at an inpatient facility. Inpatient detox also eliminates outside triggers, as the individual is not exposed to people or places that he or she associates with drug usage. It should be noted that those struggling with abuse of central nervous system depressants, specifically barbiturates and/or benzodiazepines, are recommended to never go through detoxification without supervision.

Once an individual’s withdrawal symptoms are manageable, the addiction can be treated through therapy and/or medication.

Treatment facilities

Inpatient treatment programs are those in which the individual lives at the facility in which he or she is seeking treatment, which typically resembles a hospital or medical environment. After a recovering addict goes through inpatient treatment, he or she is typically referred to a residential treatment program.

Residential treatment programs are similar to inpatient treatment programs in that the individual lives at the facility, however, residential programs provide a home-like environment. These facilities are often in the community without any outside indicators that they are treatment facilities. Residential programs provide a structured and supervised environment for individuals, which is particularly helpful for those who have a stressful or unsafe home life, as their treatment is not compromised by these outside triggers. Once an individual successfully completes residential treatment or decides to step down in treatment, he or she is typically referred to an outpatient program.

Outpatient treatment programs do not offer 24-hour supervision, which is why it is the lowest level of treatment. That being said, some individuals might begin with outpatient treatment, as this is highly dependent on insurance coverage and many insurance companies prefer individuals start with this level of care. Outpatient treatment is intended for individuals who are physically and mentally able to take care of themselves and avoid outside triggers during the evenings or weekends, when they are not in treatment.

Types of therapy

Individual therapy is used in treatment for drug addiction and has proven to be highly effective. This addresses underlying issues triggering the addiction, reinforces desire for recovery and helps prevent future relapses.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is form of individual therapy that explores the relationship between the thoughts, feelings and behaviors of an individual. This allows a recovering addict and his or her therapist to explore patterns of thinking related to addiction and the motives that drive these patterns. CBT has been proven to change brain activity and is very effective in treating prescription drug abuse and/or addiction, specifically with regard to stimulants and central nervous system depressants.

Family therapy and/or couples therapy can help rebuild a recovering addict’s interpersonal relationships that have been damaged or destroyed as a result of his or her prescription drug addiction.

Group therapy is also helpful for individuals in recovery from prescription drug abuse, as it provides them with a community in which to share stories and form bonds. This open communication among individuals going through various different stages of treatment empowers them to know that recovery is possible and that they are not alone.


It might seem counterproductive that prescription medications are sometimes used in the treatment of prescription drug abuse. However, certain prescription medications have proven to be effective in treatment, particularly for opioid abuse. For instance, there are medications that can prevent opioids from activating the opioid receptors in the brain and others that help manage withdrawal symptoms, overcome drug cravings and treat overdoses.

Holistic treatment options

Different holistic treatment options are effective in helping recovering prescription drug addicts. For instance, yoga and meditation can serve as an alternative coping skill, aiding mindfulness and focus. Equine therapy can also be beneficial, as it teaches responsibility in addition to providing the therapeutic effect of animals.

Help is available

If you or a loved one is struggling with prescription drug abuse, help is available. Call the Colorado Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline to speak with a professional today who can connect you with a treatment center in your area.

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