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Prescription Drug Withdrawal Symptoms and Detox

In This Article

Some prescription drugs can lead to addiction – this can happen regardless if the medication is misused or rendered correctly as advised by a doctor. Still, others who abuse prescription drugs obtain them illegally or pilfer leftover pills from others.

These drugs typically fall into one of two categories: stimulants and depressants. Some medications can also cause hallucinations, although that is not the primary function of these drugs.

Stimulant Withdrawal and Detox

Prescription drugs that are stimulants typically include those from the amphetamine (Adderall) or methylphenidate (Concerta or Ritalin) families, indicated for use among people who are diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or narcolepsy.

When a person stops using stimulants abruptly, they often experience withdrawal effects that are the near-opposite of that drug’s primary or desired effects. Moreover, stimulants increase heart rate and blood pressure and invoke feelings of energy and well-being. Upon cessation, the user often experiences depression, low energy, and fatigue.

Detoxing from stimulants at home is not recommended because of the depressant effects and intensive cravings that can lead to relapse. Professional detox includes 24-hour care and vital sign monitoring.

Also, a weaning or tapering off schedule is sometimes used to gradually reduce the dose and frequency until symptoms are mitigated, as there are currently no medications indicated for the treatment of stimulant withdrawal.

Depressant Withdrawal and Detox

The most common addictive depressants are anxiolytics (Xanax), sedatives/hypnotics (Ambien), and analgesics (oxycodone, hydrocodone.) They are indicated for a variety of treatments, such as anxiety, insomnia, and moderate to severe pain.

Depressants, unlike stimulants, calm the nervous system and make the user relaxed or sleepy – therefore, opposite-acting withdrawal symptoms often result in irritability, tremors, and anxiety.

Detox for depressants may include anxiolytics such as Ativan and opioid replacement therapy drugs such as suboxone or buprenorphine are frequently prescribed. Medication to help with nausea and diarrhea may also be necessary.

Detoxing from depressants at home is not recommended and can result in severe symptoms, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. During a professional detox, 24-hour supervision prevents relapse, and medication can be rendered to reduce most serious withdrawal symptoms.

Get Help Today

If you or someone you love is abusing substances, please seek treatment as soon as possible. There are many resources available to help you or your loved one.

Please call us today at 877-497-6180 for a free consultation.

~ Nathalee G. Serrels, M.A. Psychology