This Page was last reviewed and changed on August 6th, 2020
UKAT drug rehab centres are fully dedicated to helping addicts and their families recover from substance abuse and addiction. Our services include help for prescription drug addiction involving things like painkillers and medications used to treat sleep disorders, depression, and anxiety. We are here to help each of our clients find the best prescription drug rehab centres in their local areas.
If you need any assistance dealing with a prescription drug problem, please do not hesitate to contact UKAT right away. In the meantime, this comprehensive guide is designed to help you understand prescription drug addiction, what is necessary to overcome it, and what you can expect from treatment and aftercare.
Getting Help for Prescription Drug Addiction
Drug addiction is, by its nature, a physical and mental condition in which the user’s thoughts and actions are controlled by the substances being used. Drug addiction is also a highly complex problem that cannot be successfully addressed with simple solutions. A doctor cannot simply write a prescription or perform a surgical procedure to correct addiction.
It is important to understand that the average prescription drug addict cannot recover without professional help. Not that it is impossible, but that recovery outside of professional treatment is extremely difficult due to the addictive nature of so many prescription medications.
Be encouraged that getting help is a matter of making direct contact. There are private rehab clinics, counsellors, charities, support services, and even government services available to people who need help with prescription medications. One of our primary goals here at UKAT is to help our clients connect with a clinic offering the right kinds of treatment.
We evaluate each client using the latest standards and analytical models. Individually assessing clients allows us to determine what types of treatments are best for each situation. We believe this is the best way to proceed, given that drug addicts and their families all face unique circumstances that require individualised treatment.
Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction
Prescription drug addiction is an appropriate diagnosis when a person becomes physically and/or psychologically dependent on the drugs being taken. However, making such a diagnosis can be challenging. Not all prescription medications cause both physical and psychological dependence. Sometimes, dependence is only psychological.
There are certain signs and symptoms we look for to determine whether addiction is present. The symptoms and signs can be observed by doctors, social workers, family members and friends, and even addicts themselves:
The need to increase drug intake in order to achieve the same effect
A tendency to ask doctors for prescription refills before they are due
Feelings of guilt over medication use
Difficulty reducing the amount used
Attempts to keep drug use secret
Arguments with loved ones over drug use
Taking multiple drugs to alleviate the negative effects of some
Continually taking prescription drugs despite knowing their dangers
Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when reducing intake or stopping entirely
Experiencing problems at work or school as a result of drug use.
Please note that this list of signs and symptoms is by no means exhaustive. Also note that not all prescription drug addicts exhibit all of them. Just as addiction manifests itself differently in the lives of individuals, so the symptoms and signs they exhibit will be different as well.
Do I Need Inpatient or Outpatient Rehab?
Rehab for prescription drug addiction can be accessed through either an inpatient or outpatient programme. Which one might you need? That depends on your circumstances. Before discussing those circumstances, the definition of inpatient and outpatient rehab is in order.
Inpatient rehab takes place in a residential facility where clients live and get treatment for up to 12 weeks. Some inpatient rehab programmes are substantially shorter. As for outpatient rehab, it takes place in a local clinic addicts visit on a regular schedule until treatment is complete.
Clients are generally referred to inpatient rehab in the most serious cases in which physical and psychological dependence has been well established for some time. A long-term addiction to opioids would be a good example, especially if that addiction has existed for years prior to treatment.
Clients may be referred to outpatient rehab if certain conditions are present. For example, a situation in which physical dependence does NOT accompany psychological dependence would be worthy of consideration for outpatient care. Financial and other considerations may also dictate that outpatient treatment would be better.
What to Expect at Prescription Drug Rehab
Overviews of prescription drug rehab are much broader than those involving more specific drugs like heroin or alcohol. Why? Because the category of prescription drugs is rather extensive. Trying to pinpoint an exact procedure for each patient is just not possible. However, there are certain things all prescription drug addicts can expect upon entering rehab.
First, modern drug rehab protocol is based on a foundation of addiction not being a behavioural problem. Rather, it is a physical and/or mental condition triggered by specific things. Treatment is approached from the standpoint of identifying triggers so that these can be properly dealt with.
When a prescription drug addiction involves physical dependence, patients can expect to go through a comparatively short period of detox. Patients not physically addictive skip the detox part and move right on to rehabilitative therapies.
Rehab therapies are offered by trained, experienced therapists who specialise in addiction and substance abuse. Therapy programmes are individualised for each patient based on history, need, and efficacy. Also, both the rehab and detox stages are medically supervised when conducted at private, residential clinics.
Finally, patients and their families can expect formal treatment to be followed by aftercare. The collection of services that make up a solid aftercare programme pick up where formal treatment leaves off. Aftercare can continue for as long as the patient needs it, which can be up to 12 months in some cases.
What Happens During Treatment?
Treatment programmes are designed to meet patients where they are. Patients in need of detox begin by undergoing a medically supervised process that helps wean the individual from the drugs he or she is using. Detox lasts between five and seven days for most drugs.
During the rehabilitative therapy stage of treatment, patients are exposed to a number of different stages over the course of treatment, which as a whole can last from 3 to 12 weeks. First is individual counselling. This kind of counselling takes place on a regular schedule and is designed to help patients gain a better understanding of their own thoughts and emotions as these relate to addictive behaviour.
Patients are also exposed to group counselling and 12-step work during the rehabilitative stage. In some clinical settings, patients may participate in therapies that do not involve counselling. Examples include art therapy, equine therapy, life skills building, diet and nutrition education, and exercise therapy. Each of these therapies is designed to help patients further explore who they are and how they can promote the positive in themselves as they seek to overcome drug use.
The Detox Process at a Prescription Drug Rehab Clinic
As previously mentioned, detox is designed to help wean the drug user off the substances being used. It is a necessary component in overcoming physical dependence. Detox is necessary if the body is to realign itself to function without a continual supply of drugs in the system.
There are different kinds of detox programmes available in rehab clinics. The type of detox employed for prescription drug addiction depends on the medications being used. There are four primary forms of detox, all of which will be discussed here, beginning with medically supervised detox in a clinical setting.
Medically supervised detox gets its name from the fact that medical supervision is part of the process from start to finish. Whether that supervision is provided by a doctor, a registered nurse or combination of both, patients are continually monitored for any signs of complications. In certain cases, additional medications can be used to relieve withdrawal symptoms. Medically supervised detox take place in a residential setting or through an outpatient rehab programme.
Home detox is another option and one that is used extensively in the UK. It can be administered through an NHS programme under the care of a registered nurse, or through a private rehab clinic and its outpatient treatment options. Home detox is also medically supervised. The primary difference here is that medical care is not provided around-the-clock.
Natural detox is the third of the four options. It is a detox process that involves large doses of nutritional supplements to help replenish what drug addiction has taken away. Natural detox is appropriate for some prescription medications, but not all.
Finally, the fourth form of detox known as rapid detox. This relatively new treatment is very popular in the States; it is just starting to make its way to Europe. Rapid detox utilises high doses of vitamins and minerals in the same way natural detox does, but the doses are high enough to restore the body to normal functioning in just a few days.
The first three options make it possible to complete detox within 5 to 7 days for most prescription drugs. There are obvious exceptions. Some people may get through detox in a shorter amount of time while others may take slightly longer. It is not unusual for some withdrawal symptoms to linger for weeks or months following detox. As for rapid detox, it is generally accepted to take between three and five days.
More about the Rehab Process
Patients who successfully complete detox move into the rehab stage of drug addiction recovery. We should point out that rehab is a necessary part of comprehensive recovery when both physical and psychological dependence are present. Here’s why: detox only addresses physical dependence. Psychological dependence is an entirely different matter that cannot be successfully resolved just by weaning the addict off drugs.
The psychological component of drug addiction is the one thing that can lead to relapse if it is not addressed with professional treatment. To that end, the rehabilitative process involves a multitude of treatments including one-on-one counselling, group counselling, and additional therapies designed to help patients learn and develop the skills necessary to avoid relapse.
Does Everyone Receive the Same Treatment?
On the surface, it might appear as though everyone attending an outpatient or residential treatment programme is receiving the same kinds of treatments. But digging a little deeper reveals this is not so. The addiction recovery community utilises bespoke treatment plans developed by experienced therapists who assess each individual patient before the commencement of treatment.
As late as a decade ago, there were still residential and public clinics that treated all drug and alcohol addictions exactly alike. They utilised a one-size-fits-all approach to treatment. We no longer do that. A person entering prescription drug treatment for the first time will undergo a comprehensive assessment performed by trained medical professionals. This evaluation gives doctors and therapists a good idea of the person’s physical health, mental health, and other extenuating circumstances that might influence treatment. From that assessment, a bespoke treatment plan is devised.
Another significant difference in the way we now do things is the fact that treatment plans are revisited multiple times during the course of a person’s treatment. Where therapists believe that modifications are necessary to affect a better outcome, those modifications are implemented. In essence, treatment programmes can evolve along with the progress of patients.
What Are Some of the Therapy Options?
Therapists have a full toolbox of treatments that they can utilise to help clients. First among them is one-on-one therapy between the counsellor and patient. This can take numerous forms, the most common being something known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
The primary benefit of one-on-one counselling is that it enables the patient and therapist to work together to uncover deeply rooted thoughts and emotions. It allows patients to make that connection between thoughts, emotions and behaviours, and their unique link to addiction.
Group counselling is another option available to therapists. It can also take many forms. One is something known as dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), which is a more specialised form of CBT. In the DBT model, counselling sessions are divided between one-on-one and group counselling. Therapists may also use 12-step work in a group setting.
The benefits of group counselling are twofold. First, patients learn from one another through group exercises and general conversation. There is a lot of valuable learning from the experience of others. Second, the group setting provides a degree of accountability among members. They can support each other as well as push one another to succeed.
Therapy options can include different things outside the realm of counselling. Art therapy is a good example. This therapy helps patients explore their own thoughts and emotions through the use of artwork. Creating art also gives patients a means of expressing those thoughts and emotions they may not be able to express in a counselling setting.
Aftercare at the Prescription Drug Rehab
We previously mentioned aftercare as a component of drug rehab. We explained that aftercare consists of a collection of services that pick up where formal treatment leaves off. In light of that, we should also mention that aftercare is crucial to preventing relapse. Data shows that recovering drug addicts who undergo a high-quality aftercare programme are statistically less likely to relapse at one year.
Beyond the benefit of reducing relapse, aftercare also serves recovering addicts and their families in other ways. For example, aftercare encourages patients to remain in contact with their own recovery communities even after leaving formal treatment. Patients from the same local area may all join the same local support group, for example.
Another benefit of aftercare is that it helps recovering addicts integrate back into society. This is accomplished through support group participation, ongoing counselling, and extra things like job skills training. The idea behind these kinds of programmes is to teach patients how to live life outside of the influence of drugs.
Are Prescription Drug Clinics Confidential?
Rest assured that prescription drug rehab is confidential throughout every step of the process. Doctors, nurses, therapists, and support staff protect the identity and personal information of clients just as they would themselves and their own information. Not only do they have a legal responsibility to do so, but they also understand how important confidentiality is to successful recovery.
Do not hesitate to enrol in a drug rehab programme out of fear that your need for confidentiality will not be respected. It will be. No one outside of the clinical setting will know you are receiving treatment unless you decide to let it be known.
How Long Do I Need to Be Treated?
Questions relating to the length of time prescription drug rehab takes are common. Addicts and their families want to know for obvious reasons. They have to be able to plan accordingly. Unfortunately, no blanket answer can be offered here. Both addicts and their circumstances vary from one case to the next. There are a lot of things that have to be accounted for when devising a treatment plan.
Having said that, there are some general guidelines in terms of programme length. For example, a detox-only treatment can be completed in 5 to 7 days for most people. Though we do not recommend detox only, some people do choose such plans.
Treatment programmes that combine both detox and rehab therapies take a bit longer. On the short side, a three-week programme divided into five days of detox and 16 days for rehab is pretty standard. The other end of that is a fully comprehensive treatment programme that can take up to 12 weeks. These kinds of programmes devote 5 to 7 days to detox with the remaining 11 weeks devoted to the various therapies described earlier in this guide.
What Are the Most Abused Prescription Drugs?
Numerous government and independent reports over the last few years have shown that prescription drug abuse in the UK is on the rise. Unfortunately, the increased misuse of prescription medications is based mainly in the misappropriated believe that using these kinds of drugs is not as bad as using illicit drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
In reality, misuse of any drug is not a good thing. As a result, the drug addiction community is focusing more resources on addressing prescription drug misuse and abuse in order to cut down on addiction. For your general information, the most abused prescription drugs in the UK are:
Some of the drugs in this list are brand names while others are generic in nature. Also note that prescription drugs are divided into several distinct categories depending on how they work and what they do. Not all prescription drugs affect the mind and body the same way. To give you a bit more clarity, the last two sections of this guide discuss the two categories under which most of the abused prescription drugs fall.
Benzodiazepines and Z Drugs
One of the larger categories of abused prescription drugs is known as benzodiazepines and Z drugs. More commonly known simply as benzos, these drugs are a collection of medications that are used to treat things such as anxiety, sleeping disorders, and various seizure disorders. The drugs are sometimes used to assist with alcohol withdrawal.
Benzodiazepines are prone to abuse because of the short-term nature of their effectiveness. They usually work as intended for 2-4 weeks; after that, effects are not as strong. This can lead a person to take more in order to still achieve the same calming effect. Such a situation can result in addiction in some individuals.
In terms of the mechanics, benzos work by affecting the way the brain transmits signals via chemical neurotransmitters. They essentially reduce the excitability of some of those neurotransmitters so as to create a calming effect.
Some of the more notable benzodiazepines we see in prescription drug treatment include Valium, diazepam, lorazepam, and oxazepam.
Opioids have received a lot of attention in recent years due to the number of well-known people who have been negatively impacted by them. Opioids are a class of drugs used primarily to treat pain in a clinical setting. Still, they can be purchased on the street as recreational drugs.
Opioids are effective for pain relief by blocking certain opioid receptors in the central nervous system. Blocking those receptors leads to a reduced perception of pain in various parts of the body.
There are both weak and strong opioids, categorised according to their efficacy. Examples of weak opioids include codeine and dihydrocodeine; examples of strong opioids include methadone, fentanyl, morphine, and oxycodone.
Like benzodiazepines, the primary challenge with opioids is that the relief they offer tends to diminish over time. This is why doctors are very careful about long-term opioid prescriptions. As the painkilling effects of an opioid begin to subside, patients take more to maintain the desired level of relief.
We have provided a tremendous amount of information about prescription drug addiction and rehab in this guide. We invite you to contact UKAT right away if you or a family member is struggling with prescription medications. We can help you connect with the best prescription drug rehab centres in your local area, for either inpatient or outpatient treatment.
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