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Prescription Drug Withdrawal Symptoms and Signs

Prescription drug withdrawal and abuse are less visible problems than those related to the abuse of illegal drugs. Because prescription drug abuse frequently begins with a legitimate prescription, it is not unusual that people who would never buy street drugs suffer from addiction to prescription drugs. Prescription drug withdrawal symptoms can also be a consequence of suddenly ceasing to take a prescription drug that was not being abused.

If you have been taking a prescription drug for an extended period of time, especially one that is highly addictive, you should be monitored by your doctor and weaned off the drug gradually. Sometimes people feel shame because of withdrawal; however, withdrawal symptoms are the result of a biological process and have nothing to do with morality. For help overcoming prescription drug addiction, call 1-888-935-1318Who Answers?.

The Mechanics of Addiction

Drug dependence happens when your body becomes accustomed to the presence of a substance. While initially a small amount of the drug was enough for you to feel its effects, after you become dependent, you need the drug just to feel normal. To feel affected by the drug, you must take ever-increasing amounts.

Drug dependence is slightly different than drug addiction. Drug addiction is characterized by an overwhelming urge to take a drug, even if you don't actually want to take the drug. If you are addicted to a drug, you might feel tempted to do foolish or risky things, such as steal money or not go to work, in order to obtain the drug. Addiction almost always occurs with dependence.

Painkiller Addiction and Withdrawal

Of prescription drugs, painkillers may be the most prone to abuse. Prescription painkillers include hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, codeine, methadone, and any other member of the narcotic family. Prescription drug withdrawal treatment for this type of drug frequently includes a stay at a rehab center, monitored detoxification, and therapy.

As your system adjusts to the absence of the painkiller, you may experience depression, delirium, aches and pains, sweating, and irritability. Some treatment centers will slowly wean you off of the medication to minimize the effects of withdrawal.

Tranquilizer Addiction and Withdrawal

Tranquilizers make you feel calm and dull your emotional, and often physical, responses. They are also known as sedatives or benzodiazepines. Some tranquilizers make you very sleepy. These are also known as sleeping pills or barbiturates. Benzodiazepines are usually prescribed for short-term or chronic anxiety, seizures, short-term insomnia, and alcohol withdrawal. Barbiturates are usually prescribed for insomnia or anxiety.

However, they are considered a second-choice drug when compared to benzodiazepines because of their high potential for accidental lethal overdose. Sedative tranquilizers include acepromazine, estazolam, temazepam, diazepam, and lorazepam. Barbiturates include allobarbital, butalbital, mephobarbital, and talbutal. Barbiturate withdrawal should always occur under the close supervision of a doctor; it should never be attempted alone. Benzodiazepine withdrawal stomach upset, histamine response, aches and pains, and blurred vision.

Stimulant Addiction and Withdrawal

The stimulant drug group encompasses a large number of drugs prescribed for a variety of purposes. Stimulant drugs are commonly used to treat ADHD, obesity, and brain disorders. Amphetamines are a type of drug frequently prescribed for ADHD, and also commonly abused. People with ADHD need amphetamines to help them stay focused and on-task. Amphetamines are usually abused by those seeking increased academic or job-related performance.

In recent years, this drug has been abused with increasing frequency on college campuses because it allows the user to study for longer periods of time and go without sleep. Amphetamine withdrawal usually includes exhaustion and depression. Typically only users of amphetamines that were taking very high doses and suddenly stopped experience noticeable withdrawal symptoms. For this reason, some doctors advise that users are slowly weaned off of the drug.

Diversion of ADHD Stimulant Medications

Many young adults can obtain medications to treat ADHD without a doctor's recommendation, which often leads to abuse. But where do they get the drugs?

A 2016 Recovery Brands survey revealed that a surprising 63% of people between the ages of 18 and 28 get ADHD stimulants from companions. Another 20.4% get them via family, 18.5% through a schoolmate, and less than 15% from a street dealer.

Where young people get prescription stimulants

Prescription Medication Withdrawal Treatment

Fortunately, there are many treatment centers to help you overcome prescription drug addiction. Withdrawal symptoms can be mitigated and controlled using a combination of dependency-decreasing techniques and medications. Receiving therapy within a detox and rehab program will help you understand the circumstances that led to your addiction and overcome them. If you or a family member is struggling with prescription drug addiction, there is help available.

To speak with a rehab treatment advisor, call 1-888-935-1318Who Answers? and learn how you can get through the withdrawal phase of your recovery and start living your life again. Remember, prescription drugs are some of the most commonly abused drugs. Rehab centers that are experienced in treating and managing prescription drug withdrawal have the tools to help you live the life you want to live again.


Prescription Drug Information at a Glance
Form, Intake, and Dosage Interactions and Complications
  • Drug Forms: Pills, Serums, Gels, Capsules
  • Administration Routes: Orally administered
  • Dosage: Varies depending on the drug
  • Overdose: Varied depending on the drug
  • Alcohol Interaction: Alcohol can speed up the drug’s effects and increase their intensity.
  • Illicit Drugs: N/A
  • Prescription Medications: Mixing prescriptions can have added psychological and physical effects
  • Contraindications: Varies
Effects and Adverse Reactions Substance Abuse
  • Short-Term: Increased Euphoria, Physical numbness, Changes in heart rate and blood pressure, Sensory effects
  • Long-Term: Long term abuse of drugs can lead to increased tolerance and dependence, dulling of the senses, mental dullness, etc.
  • Risk of Substance Abuse: High
  • Signs of Abuse: Varies with each drug- most abusers begin displaying common drug abuse signs such as shaking, avoidance of social interactions, laziness, etc.
Physiological Problem Signs and Symptoms Dependence and Addiction Issues
  • Withdrawal Syndrome Onset: Varies with the drug (12 hours to Several days)
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Varies with drug
  • Tolerance: Most drug abusers exhibit signs of tolerance after prolonged use.
  • Cross Dependence: Varies
  • Physical Dependence: High possibility
  • Psychological Dependence: High possibility
Legal Schedules and Ratings
  • Controlled Substances Act Rating: Schedule III


Questions and Answers (FAQ)

How Long Do Prescription Drug Withdrawals Last?

The duration of withdrawals from Prescription Drugs can vary depending on the drug being abused. Each abuser’s timeline and intensity of withdrawals depends on the length and type of abuse. Most withdrawals begin within 24 hours of last use and can last up to several weeks.

Do You Have a List Popular Slang or Street Names for Prescription Drugs

Oxy, Barbs, Candy, Zombie pills, Sleeping pills, Happy Pills

Are There any Home Remedies for Getting Clean Safely?

While there are a number of supposedly successful natural remedies and alternative medicines that promise to relieve difficult detoxifications, you should seek professional help if you want to ensure a successful detox. Trying a home remedy instead of contacting a rehabilitation center can waste valuable time, so if you’re looking for safe, effective recovery, it’s best to contact a physician or medical professional.

How Long Does it Take to Detox from Prescription Drugs?

Different drugs will stay in the system for different amounts of time, so the timeline for each drug will be different. Some can remain in the body for days or even months. To research your community’s options for treatment and support, try visiting our locator page or calling 1-888-935-1318Who Answers? to get the help you need for you or the ones you love.

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