Prescription Drug Rehab

Prescription drug abuse means taking a prescription medication that is not prescribed for you, or taking it for reasons or in dosages other than as prescribed. Abuse of prescription drugs can produce serious health effects, including addiction.

Treatments for Prescription Drug Abuse

Several options are available for effectively treating addiction to prescription drugs, depending on the medication being abused. Approaches to treating addiction to pain relievers are drawn from research on treating addiction to heroin, also an opioid, and include medications such as naltrexone, methadone, and buprenorphine, combined with behavioral counseling.

NIDA’s National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network is sponsoring the first large-scale, multi-site study to test the effectiveness of buprenorphine/naloxone – a medication used to treat heroin addiction – as a treatment for addiction to prescription pain medication.

Treatment of addiction to prescription stimulants, such as Ritalin, is often based on behavioral therapies that have proven effective in treating addiction to cocaine and methamphetamine. While no medications have yet proven effective for the treatment of stimulant addiction, NIDA is supporting a number of studies examining medications with this potential.

Commonly abused classes of prescription medications include:

Opioids (for pain), central nervous system depressants (for anxiety and sleep disorders), and stimulants (for ADHD and narcolepsy). Opioids include hydrocodone (Vicodin®), oxycodone (OxyContin®), propoxyphene (Darvon®), hydromorphone (Dilaudid®), meperidine (Demerol®), and diphenoxylate (Lomotil®). Central nervous system depressants include barbiturates such as pentobarbital sodium (Nembutal®), and benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium®) and alprazolam (Xanax®). Stimulants include dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine®), methylphenidate (Ritalin® and Concerta®), and amphetamines (Adderall®).

Common Street Names for Prescription Drugs:

  • Depressants; methaqualone, Street Term: Ludes
  • OxyContin, Street Term: Hillbilly heroin
  • Ritalin (methylphenidate), Street Term: Vitamin R

Effects of Prescription Drug Abuse

Long-term use of opioids or central nervous system depressants can lead to physical dependence and addiction. Opioids can produce drowsiness, constipation and, depending on amount taken, can depress breathing. Central nervous system depressants slow down brain function; if combined with other medications that cause drowsiness or with alcohol, heart rate and respiration can slow down dangerously. Taken repeatedly or in high doses, stimulants can cause anxiety, paranoia, dangerously high body temperatures, irregular heartbeat, or seizures.

Risks of prescription drug abuse


High risk for addiction and overdose. This is a major concern, particularly for recently synthesized slow-release formulations, which abusers override by crushing the pills and injecting or snorting the contents, heightening their risk for respiratory depression and death.
Dangerous combination effects. Combining opioids with other drugs, including alcohol, can intensify respiratory distress.
Heightened HIV risk. Injecting opioids increases the risk of HIV and other infectious diseases through the use of unsterile or shared equipment.

CNS Depressants:

Addiction and withdrawal dangers. These drugs can be highly addictive and, in chronic users, discontinuing them absent a physician’s guidance can bring about severe withdrawal symptoms that must be properly managed by a medical professional.
Risk of overdose. Overdose can cause severe breathing problems and lead to death, especially when these drugs are combined with other medications or alcohol.


Reputation as performance enhancers. Incorrectly perceived as safe for enhancing academic achievement and weight loss, these drugs are highly addictive and potentially harmful.
Range of risky health consequences. These include risk of dangerously high body temperature, seizures, and cardiovascular complications.

Information contained above is courtesy of The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) for more information please visit:

If you have come across our Addiction Treatment Center web site, it is possible you or someone you love is in need of help for prescription drug addiction. The Cove Center for Recovery is an Addiction Treatment Center offering a premier drug addiction treatment program that can help you or your loved one. Our aim is to treat the whole person, and not just an isolated symptom. During the addiction treatment process we will work with the client to identify the factors that may have contributed to their addiction– whether it is home, work, relationship driven or simply based on medical history. We also believe that families have a vital role to play in the recovery process, and each program has a place for family participation, to educate them in the addiction treatment process and to equip them for their role as supporters.