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Types of Treatment in Prescription Drug Rehab

Because there are several different classes of prescription drugs, different treatment types need to be employed for different addiction syndromes. Also no two patients are guaranteed to have the same reaction to any one treatment type; therefore, different options must be available. According to the NIDA, treatment for prescription drug addiction “must take into account the type of drug used and the needs of the individual.”

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Rehabilitation for Prescription Drug Addiction

“Successful treatment may need to incorporate several components, including”:

  • Detoxification: The process of lessening withdrawal symptoms and helping patients through withdrawal by slowly weaning them off the drug they are dependent on or using other medications to treat the withdrawal symptoms
  • Behavioral therapy: Therapeutic treatment for addiction that uses techniques to help patients learn better behavior and more beneficial coping skills
  • Counseling: Guidance, either is a group or individualized setting, that helps patients resolve conflicts associated with their addictions and work through their emotions surrounding the issue
  • Medication: Pharmacological treatments that are used to help minimize issues like cravings and side effects of addiction and to prevent relapse

In the cases of addiction syndromes associated with certain drugs, some treatments may be more effective than others, and some may not have been developed yet for a particular syndrome. However, these are the most common types of treatments used in prescription drug rehab.

drug rehab types

Prescription drug treatment programs use different methods to help people overcome addiction.

Patients may also encounter other types during their rehab and recovery including:

  • Mutual-help groups/Support groups: Groups of individuals who “share a problem and come together to provide problem-specific help and support to one another” (NIAAA)
  • Holistic treatments: Programs which, while not medically proven to be effective in treating addiction, can be beneficial to certain patients and include such concepts as yoga, Tai Chi, acupuncture, art and music therapy, nature walks, etc.
  • Resocialization: The act of using all individuals within the facility (nurses, doctors, counselors, other patients, etc.) as sources of positive reinforcement for the individual’s choice to stop abusing drugs
  • Transitional help: The job of the clinician to assist a patient in transitioning more easily out of rehab and back into their life whether that means helping them:
    • Find a job
    • Find somewhere to live
    • Find another treatment program

Any one patient may respond better to certain treatment types than others, although the four original types have been scientifically proven to foster good outcomes in recovering individuals. Still, certain drugs require certain programs and regimens that are more effective for ending an addiction syndrome associated with them. And since there are three main categories of prescription drugs (opioids, stimulants, and CNS depressants), all three are treated very differently in a rehab setting.

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Prescription Opioid Addiction Treatment Types

According to the NIDA, the treatment types most commonly used for opioid addiction “are drawn from research on the treatment of heroin addiction and include medications (e.g., naltrexone, methadone, and buprenorphine) as well as behavioral counseling approaches.”

  • Medications 
    • Natrexone 
      • This medication works best for individuals who are serious about quitting their opioid drug abuse. “An addict who takes naltrexone faithfully will never relapse, but most addicts simply stop using it, or refuse to take it in the first place” (Harvard Medical School). This is because it triggers withdrawal in anyone who is dependent on opioids; therefore, it is not well tolerated by many patients.
    • Methadone 
      • Methadone is used more often in long-term cases of abuse, but some individuals who have been taking prescription opioids in the short term can benefit from methadone. The drug is taken in doses that do not cause euphoria and dispensed by specific rehab clinics. However, when taken in high enough doses, methadone can cause the same issues commonly associated with other highly abused opioid drugs.
    • Buprenorphine 
      • Buprenorphine has a lower chance of being abused than methadone because it is often prescribed as Suboxone, a brand name drug that also contains naloxone. This combination precipitates withdrawal in those who crush and snort the drug. It also is well tolerated by patients.
  • Behavioral therapy 
    • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
      • CBT helps patients see their addictions in a new light and change their behavior toward opioid drugs by giving them ways to fight their cravings and avoid their triggers.
    • Contingency management 
      • CM helps patients reroute their reward pathways which have been changed by frequent opioid drug abuse. Patients are given vouchers for abstaining from drugs, thus rewarding them for staying on track with their recoveries.
  • Counseling 
    • Group counseling 
      • Patients are able to meet other individuals who are also addicted to opioid drugs and learn from one another while also providing each other with support.

Many individuals go through a detoxification routine first and then begin their rehabilitation. There are actually more treatment options available to in prescription opioid rehab than in other prescription drug rehab programs.

Prescription Stimulant Addiction Treatment Types

There are no current medications that are being used to treat addiction to these drugs. In most cases, a patient is only given medication when it is necessary to minimize certain withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, “treatment of addiction to prescription stimulants, such as Adderall and Concerta, is based on behavioral therapies used in treating cocaine and methamphetamine addiction.” These therapies include those listed above as well as that of the Matrix Model. This therapy type relies on a strong and positive relationship between the therapist and patient, relapse prevention, drug education, self-analysis, and drug testing (NIDA).

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Prescription CNS Depressant Addiction Treatment Types

Like with stimulants, patients are not able to receive medication to help them fight their addictions. However, they will often be weaned off of the drug during withdrawal because the syndrome itself can be extremely dangerous. Patients are often treated with contingency management, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and/or group counseling. While medications may be administered, they are not treatments in themselves for addiction to prescription CNS depressants.

There are a fair number of treatment types used commonly in prescription drug rehab. Upon beginning rehabilitation, patients are often given a personalized treatment program that is specific to their unique needs. This program must be changed whenever the needs of the patient change and can include whatever treatments best help the individual feel positive and work toward their goal of recovery from prescription drug addiction.

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