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Types of Treatment for Prescription Drug Abuse

Prescription drug abuse is widespread across all cultures, ages, and socioeconomic statuses most often beginning with the legitimate prescription from the family physician or the diversions of those prescriptions to others.

Types of treatment for prescription drug abuse vary by facilities and service offerings. According to the NIDA,” Treatment must take into account the type of drug used and the needs of the individual. Successful treatment may need to incorporate several components, including detoxification, counseling, and sometimes the use of addiction medications.”

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Knowing the Problem

In the 2014 National Drug Threat Assessment from the DEA, controlled prescription drugs (CPDs) were cited as outnumbering heroin and cocaine combined for the number of deaths involving abuse. While most of the deaths were attributed to opioid prescription painkillers, other deaths involved central nervous system (CNS) depressants such as benzodiazepines and CNS stimulants such as ADHD medications.

Prescription drug abuse may involve taking the drugs:

  • In higher amounts or more frequently than prescribed
  • For other than the intended purposes or by someone other than intended
  • To avoid withdrawals
  • In combination with other drugs or alcohol
  • Via alternative delivery methods such as snorting, injecting, or smoking drugs meant to be consumed orally

Detox

Detox is the first type of treatment a person must undergo in order to clear the drug chemicals out of their body. Detox can be physically and/or psychologically distressing and possibly lead to complications requiring the need of professional interventions and sometimes, medication assistance to maintain stability and comfort in a safe and supportive environment.

Counseling

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Counseling is an important part of prescription drug rehab.

Counseling focuses on helping the person achieve their personal and interpersonal goals of abstinence with structured guidance in sessions that may include:

  • Individual counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Family counseling
  • Couples counseling

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Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies help patients improve relationships and social functioning abilities. The most common forms of behavioral therapies include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – Helps the person identify and change their thoughts, emotions, and resulting behaviors surrounding prescription drug abuse. It teaches them to avoid high-risk situations and coping strategies through awareness and positive management skills.
  • Motivational Incentives aka Contingency Management – Uses positive reinforcement techniques such as rewards for achieving treatment goals or remaining abstinent.

12-Step and Self-Help Groups

These groups encourage sharing common concerns and experiences. Building a positive support network is crucial to maintaining long-term abstinence when formal treatment ends.

Psychosocial Services

Psychosocial services address the unique needs of the individual and help to prevent relapse in the long run. Without medical, psychiatric, housing, educational, or vocational assistance, these individuals can fall right back into social dysfunction and relapse to prescription drug abuse.

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