Prescription medications, including opioids and stimulants, are recommended by doctors to treat acute or chronic pain, anxiety, and insomnia, amongst other illnesses.

Unfortunately, over 18 million Americans are estimated to abuse the drugs prescribed by their doctors, either by using them for a different reason or in different doses than instructed.1

What Is Prescription Drug Withdrawal?

When prescription drugs are abused, the user’s body becomes tolerant to their effects over time and will require larger doses to get the same high. Prescription drug dependence may occur soon after, making it almost impossible to function normally without regular doses of the medication.

If the drug use is reduced or stopped, the individual’s body goes into withdrawal, during which withdrawal symptoms occur.

Common Prescription Drug Addictions

There are three main categories of highly addictive prescription drugs. They are central nervous system depressants, opioids, and stimulants.

Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants

CNS depressants act on the central nervous system by affecting the GABA neurotransmitter and effectively slowing down brain activity, producing feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. They are typically prescribed to treat anxiety and insomnia.

The most commonly abused CNS depressants include:

  • Phenobarbital (Luminal)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)


Opioids are painkillers, or analgesics, that bind to the opioid receptors of the brain and nervous system, producing feelings of euphoria. They are prescribed to treat acute or chronic pain.

The most widely abused opioids include:

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)


Stimulants increase the rate at which signals are sent through the nervous system and are often prescribed to patients with ADHD. Stimulant abuse can produce feelings of alertness, suppressed appetite, and increased energy.

Commonly abused stimulants include:

  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
  • Amphetamine/Dextroamphetamine (Adderall)

Prescription Drug Withdrawal Symptoms

The type and severity of withdrawal symptoms experienced depend significantly on the kind of medication used and how long the person had abused it, respectively.

The effects of prescription drug withdrawal include2:

CNS Depressants

  • Seizures
  • Shaking
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


  • Excessive yawning
  • High blood pressure
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Dilated pupils
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Dull senses
  • Paranoia
  • Increased appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Chills
  • Body pain
  • Mood swings

Why Is Professional Help Necessary When Detoxing From Prescription Drugs?

Prescription Drug Withdrawals

Prescription drug detox can produce severely uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Going through this at home could create a greater possibility of relapse or overdose.

Prescription drug rehab, or supervised detox, provides a calm, medically controlled environment that can significantly ease the effects and risks of withdrawal.

The personnel at these centers can also provide medication for prescription drug treatment to alleviate withdrawal symptoms and prevent a relapse.

Medications for Prescription Drug Withdrawal

Medications used to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms include3:

  • Clonidine: Which is especially helpful in counteracting the effects of opioid withdrawal
  • Chlordiazepoxide (Librium): Reduces anxiety, insomnia, and other withdrawal symptoms
  • Buprenorphine: Produces similar effects as opioids and can be used to prevent opioid withdrawal
  • Methadone: Mimics the effects of opioids to reduce severe withdrawal symptoms

Other medicines, like naltrexone, can prevent possible relapse by blocking the effects of commonly abused prescription drugs.

If you are suffering from withdrawal, call our hotline today at (833) 489-5577 to get the help and treatment you need.



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