Prescription drug detox

Prescription drug detoxification is a crucial step in achieving long-term recovery. Detox is the process of clearing your body of all traces of prescription drugs so that you can begin therapy. While detox can make a huge difference in your life, both physically and mentally, it can be a difficult process, as prescription drug withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant. Fortunately, there are many excellent detox centres that can guide and support you through every stage.

In this page, we will discuss the changes different prescription drugs have on your body and the withdrawal symptoms you may experience when you stop taking them. We will also talk about how to detox safely and what to expect from the process.

Benzo detox

A medically supervised detox is the most effective way to cleanse benzodiazepines from the body. Medical professionals will administer appropriate medication to relieve you from any uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.


Opiate detox

A safely administered medical detox is the first step in recovering from opioid addiction. Professionally trained medics will be there to effectively monitor you throughout and alleviate any discomfort you may experience.

Sleeping pills detox

When someone becomes dependent on or addicted to sleeping pills, abruptly stopping their use can lead to potentially severe withdrawal symptoms. Supervised medical detox is considered the safest way to clear all traces of sleeping pills from the body.

The effects of prescription drug withdrawal

There are various prescription drugs that people can become addicted to, but some of the most common are opioids, benzodiazepines and stimulants.

There are a range of different opioids of varying strengths and effects that are prescribed for pain management. Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely severe when detoxing and may include muscle aches, diarrhoea and vomiting. In the most serious cases, withdrawal can lead to seizures and even death.


Benzodiazepines are a type of sedative that are often prescribed for anxiety or insomnia. These drugs can cause serious withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking them, including headaches, muscle tension, irritability and rebound anxiety.

How to detox safely from prescription drugs

If you’ve decided that you want to undergo prescription drug detoxification, it’s important to do so safely. Detoxing at home without medical supervision can be extremely dangerous and even life-threatening. This is because prescription drug withdrawal symptoms can be very severe and unpredictable so it’s important to have someone on hand who can help if you start to experience any problems.

Fortunately, there are many professional detox centres in the UK that can provide you with the care and support you need to safely detox from prescription drugs. Our UKAT centres all have experience in helping people detox from a range of different prescription drugs and can offer you the medication and support you need to make it through withdrawal.

Upon admission to one of our detox centres, you will be assessed by our team of medical professionals, who will then create a detox plan for you. This plan will usually involve tapering off your drug use under medical supervision and may also include the use of medication to help manage withdrawal symptoms.


Detoxing under medical supervision is the best way to ensure your safety and comfort during prescription drug withdrawal. In a medically supervised detox, you will be monitored twenty-four hours a day by a team of professionals who can help you through the process.

Medication needed for prescription drug detox

The type of detox medication you will need during detox for prescription drugs will depend on the drug you are addicted to.

For opioid detox, you will most commonly be prescribed methadone; for benzodiazepines detox, diazepam; and for stimulants, Ritalin. All of these can be potentially addictive and harmful themselves so it is vital that you follow the instructions of the medical professionals who are overseeing your detox.

The amount prescribed will depend on your personal needs and the extent of your prescription drug withdrawal symptoms. As these begin to fade, the dose will be reduced until you are eventually weaned off the medication altogether.


What to expect from prescription drug detox

The length of time it takes to detox from prescription drugs will depend on a number of factors, including the drug you are addicted to, the severity of your condition and how long you have been taking the drug.

In general, the detox process can be divided into three phases:

  • Phase one – The acute phase of prescription drug withdrawal and usually lasts for a few days. During this time, you will experience the strongest cravings and the most severe withdrawal symptoms.
  • Phase two – The stabilisation phase and usually lasts for a few weeks. This is when your withdrawal symptoms will begin to improve but you may still experience some cravings and mood swings.
  • Phase three – The recovery phase and usually lasts for a few months. During the recovery phase, your withdrawal symptoms should be completely gone and you should start to feel like yourself again. Physical cravings should have all but disappeared at this time too, though you may still experience mental cravings in difficult moments.

These timeframes will vary depending on the type of prescription drugs and how you react to the prescription drug detox process. For example, the first two stages will usually take between seven and ten days for opioids, which is similar to stimulants. However, benzodiazepine may take longer because these drugs have a longer half-life, so they will stay in your system for longer.

The withdrawal symptoms you may experience will also differ depending on the type of prescription drug and other factors such as:

  • How long you have been using the drug
  • The amount you have taken
  • Your overall health
  • Your reaction to detox
  • Whether you are taking any medication to help with the process


The benefits of detox for prescription drugs

Prescription drug detox can have a number of benefits for your physical and mental health.

First and foremost you will have a reduced risk of overdose, and these overdoses can be potentially fatal. You will also reduce the strain on your organs, such as your liver and kidneys, and give your body a chance to heal. After some time, you should see improved cardiovascular function, respiratory function and brain function. You will also see an improvement in your mood and energy levels as well as your overall sense of wellbeing.

Detoxing can also have a positive impact on your mental health. For example, if you are addicted to opioids, detoxing can help to improve your mood and relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Successfully undergoing detox can help to improve your relationships with friends and family as well as your work or school performance. Any changes in behaviour caused by your prescription drug addiction should start to improve after you have detoxed, and you will start to feel more in control and more like your old self again.

Where to get help


If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription drug use, there is help available. At UKAT, we offer prescription drug rehab and we have a team of experts who can help you through the detox process.

It is important to note that prescription drug detoxification is rarely an effective treatment on its own and you will most likely need to undergo a comprehensive rehab programme to achieve long-term recovery.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do you detox from prescription medication?
The best way to detox from prescription medication is at a professional detox centre. There, you will receive guidance and support from medical professionals who will ensure you are safe and comfortable throughout the process. Find out more about our treatment centres.
How does prescription drug detox work?
The only way to clear your system of prescription drugs is to stop taking them. To prevent a dangerous reaction, medical professionals at a drug detox centre will monitor your progress. They may also administer medication to help you deal with the withdrawal symptoms; this will depend on what prescription drugs you are detoxing from and your body’s reaction to detox.