Undertaking a prescription drug detox is equally as important as a detox from illicit drugs or alcohol. The symptoms of prescription drug addiction can – in some cases – be just as severe and the strength of the addiction just as great.

According to a 2019 study, one in four adults in the UK are taking addictive prescription drugs and half of that number have been taking them for at least one year. Furthermore, the highest number of users live in areas with the most social deprivation.

There’s evidence to suggest that prescription drug dependency is increasing. It’s important that those who find themselves in the grip of this addiction have a means of breaking free. ‘Detoxification’ play a vital role in this.

But first, it’s important to identify the symptoms of addiction.

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Symptoms of Prescription Drug Addiction

Some of the signs of prescription drug addiction are similar to those of other substance addictions. Substance abuse can change the chemical balance of the brain with symptoms varying depending on the particular drug.

However, some of the physical and psychological symptoms to look out for include:

  • Anxiety: which may manifest itself in an increased heart-rate, hyper-alertness and panic attacks
  • Depression: characterised by low mood, lack of energy and motivation
  • Frustration and anger: particularly when the user is unable to access the drugs they want
  • Confusion and paranoia: feelings of uncertainty and suspicion may rise
  • Trouble sleeping: addiction may affect the chemical balance of your brain and/or change your day-to-day habits to the extent that it impinges on your sleep
  • Inability to focus or concentrate: which can manifest at home, work and in social situations

A prescription drug dependency may also have consequences on your life generally. These consequences might include: a breakdown in relations with friends and family, increased difficulty completing tasks at work, and financial problems.

Sufferers also often feel guilty as their addiction leads them to prioritise their habit over and above other people’s needs. Meanwhile, they may be increasing the number of drugs they take in order to get the same effect.

The symptoms vary greatly but if the dependency isn’t tackled then it’s highly likely they will worsen over time.

Why a Prescription Drug Detox is vital

The first stage of any recovery is the acknowledgement that you have a problem. With prescription drugs, it can be harder to recognise the problem.

After all, you may have required a prescription drug for a specific purpose, to begin with. For example, you may have become reliant on painkillers, sleeping pills, weight loss pills or anti-depressants.

The next stage is to get help and start taking the path to recovery. The reason a prescription drug detox is so important is that it’s the process by which you go from being dependent to becoming drug-free.

The problem with addiction is that sufferers feel it is impossible to kick the habit. However, a drug detox provides a manageable and scaled way of gradually reducing your use and minimising withdrawal symptoms.

The detox forces your body to break its dependence on drugs, removes harmful toxins from your body, and ensures that your body is no longer demanding those drugs.

Drug dependency cannot be broken without undertaking a prescription drug detox programme.

At Nova Recovery, we understand that detoxification is a vital part of any treatment plan. And the chances of success are increased when sufferers are provided with a detox programme that is tailored to their specific needs and challenges, and backed-up with the support and guidance of medical professionals in a residential rehab setting.

Attending support groups gives you the chance to relay your experiences to other sufferers, and also learn from their experiences.

There is a wide range of support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, and they can provide an extra sense of purpose as you go through the prescription drug detox process.

What to expect from the Detox Process

When checking in to a rehab centre like Nova Recovery, an initial appointment will be arranged to ascertain your current life circumstances, the type of drug(s) you are addicted to, the quantities of the drug(s) you take, and all the consequences it’s having on your life.

It enables qualified medical professionals and counsellors to gain a full understanding of your situation and design a rehab programme which offers you the best chance of success.

From this first appointment, a detox programme can be designed specifically for your level of addiction. Here are some of the activities that might be involved in a prescription drug detox programme:


Tapered withdrawal

It’s important to take a gradual approach to decrease your dependency. A sudden abrupt cessation will lead to potentially severe withdrawal symptoms. They may include: tremors, nausea, sleeplessness, increased anxiety, irritability and headaches.

However, a gradual reduction will minimise these side effects. There will still be some withdrawal symptoms, but they will be greatly reduced. The duration of tapered withdrawal can be anywhere between a few days to a few weeks.


Diet and nutrition

A healthy diet will enable you to detox more quickly. Drinking plenty of water and eating fresh fruit and veg will help drive toxins out of your body faster and help speed up the detox.


Talking therapies

To help further boost your chances of a successful prescription drug detox – as well as a positive long term outcome – talking therapies such as CBT can help.

These kinds of therapies help to understand how your thoughts and feelings affect your substance use. Equipped with this understanding, you are empowered with the ability to take greater control and develop greater mental resilience.


Prescription drug detox support

A detox programme is greatly enhanced by the support of medical professionals. They can give expert one-to-one advice and support you along your detox journey.


Support groups

Attending support groups gives you the chance to relay your experiences to other sufferers, and also learn from their experiences. There is a wide range of support groups, such as Narcotics Anonymous, and they can provide an extra sense of purpose as you go through the prescription drug detox process.

Any successful attempt to break free of prescription drug addiction requires a detox process. The chances of a positive outcome are increased for those who opt-in to a detox and treatment programme in a residential setting.

It ensures you have all the support you need in an environment dedicated to your recovery. Get in touch with our team today to find out more about our services.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: June 22, 2023

John has travelled extensively around the world, culminating in 19 years’ experience looking at different models. He is the European pioneer of NAD+ (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide) treatment to Europe in 2010; and recently back from the USA bringing state of the art Virtual Reality Relapse Prevention and stress reduction therapy. His passion extends to other metabolic disturbances and neurodegenerative diseases. The journey continues. In recent times, John has travelled to Russia to study and research into a new therapy photobiomudulation or systemic laser therapy working with NAD+ scientists and the very best of the medical professionals in the UK and the USA, together with Nadcell, Bionad Hospitals own select Doctors, nurses, dieticians and therapists. Johns’ passion continues to endeavour to bring to the UK and Europe new developments with NAD+ Therapy in preventive and restorative medicine and Wellness. In 2017 John Gillen was made a visiting Professor at the John Naisbitt university in Belgrade Serbia.