How Medication Works in Prescription Drug Rehab

Prescription pain medications offer an invaluable source of relief from pain symptoms of most every kind. In today’s fast-paced world, the “pop-a-pill” treatment option fits in nicely with the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Unfortunately, prescription pain medications come with just as many drawbacks as benefits, particularly when abused or used for recreational purposes. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, an estimated two million Americans reported abusing prescription pain pills in 2009. In actuality, prescription pain pills and heroin produce strikingly similar effects to the point where prescription pain pills can reasonably be considered synthetic forms of heroin.

For people with long histories of drug abuse, the use of medications in prescription drug rehab is standard procedure if only because of the extensive damage to brain function these drugs leave behind. Not treating these aftereffects as a part of prescription drug rehab leaves those in recovery wide open for relapse and resumed drug use.

While taking medications as a treatment for prescription drug addiction may seem counterproductive, it’s actually an effective treatment approach. Understanding how medication works in prescription drug rehab can better prepare a person for dealing with the ups and downs of recovery.

Need help finding a recovery program? Call 800-895-1695 toll free today.

Prescription Drug Addiction

Prescription pain medications, also known as prescription opiates, work by increasing endorphin chemical levels in the brain. This increase in endorphin chemicals blocks incoming pain signals from the body.

When taken on an ongoing basis, prescription drugs continue to disrupt brain chemical processes and create a type of snowball effect, leaving the brain in an imbalanced state. Over time, the brain comes to incorporate opiate effects into its normal chemical processes, which sets the dependency/addiction cycle in motion.

Throughout this process, the brain cells that secrete endorphin chemicals undergo considerable wear and tear since they’re working twice as hard as usual on a continuous basis. These effects further contribute to a chemically imbalanced state as cells eventually reach a point where they can’t function normally in the absence of opiate effects.

According to the University Of California Irvine School Of Medicine, medications used in prescription drug rehab work to correct for the chemical imbalances brought on by the abuse of prescription drugs. These medications provide much needed support to damaged brain cell structures, which in turn eases much of the discomfort experienced in recovery.

Prescription drug rehab programs combine medication treatment with ongoing behavioral-based treatments in an effort to help those in recovery overcome both the physical and psychological effects of addiction.

Factors Affecting Treatment

Prescription drug rehab programs base a person’s need for medication treatment on a range of factors, some of which include –

  • Length of time using drugs
  • A person’s motivation to remain drug-free
  • Past drug abuse history
  • Relapse potential
  • Presence or absence of a support system

More oftentimes than not, prescription drug rehab will entail some form of medication treatment in cases where a person has a long history of drug abuse. Otherwise, the likelihood of maintaining abstinence will remain considerably low regardless of whether or not he or she completes a prescription drug rehab program. We can help you find the right rehab program for you. Call 800-895-1695 today.

Medication Treatment Purposes

Prescription drug rehab programs have a range of medication treatment options from which to choose, with different types of medications producing certain targeted effects. The stage of treatment and the purpose for the medication most determines which type of medication will work best.

In general, two types of medication treatments are used in prescription drug rehab –

  • Opiate replacement therapies
  • Aversion-based therapies

Opiate Replacement Therapies

addiction medications

Medication is a helpful part of the addiction treatment process.

The brain chemical imbalances left behind by prescription drug abuse can leave addicts experiencing persistent withdrawal and drug cravings effects for years into the recovery process. Prescription drug rehab programs use opiate replacement medications to help ease much of the discomfort experienced in detox treatment, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Opiate replacement therapies can also be used as long-term, maintenance treatments in cases of severe and/or long-term addiction problems.

For the most part, these medications work by acting on the same brain cell sites as prescription pain drugs. Rather than drain cells of essential endorphin supplies, replacement-type medications produce a controlled effect, enabling cell sites to function normally.

Medications commonly used in prescription drug rehab include –

  • Suboxone
  • Subutex
  • Methadone
  • LAMM

Aversion-Based Therapies

Opiate addictions in general carry an incredibly high relapse rate, so relapse prevention remains an ongoing priority in prescription drug rehab treatment. While behavioral treatment interventions go a long way towards providing the needed tools and coping skills for maintaining abstinence, people with long histories of drug abuse may well require medication treatments to help them along.

Prescription drug rehab programs administer opiate antagonist medications to help ease a person’s ongoing drug cravings. Antagonist medications work by blocking endorphin-secreting cell sites. In this way, someone who does happen to relapse won’t experience the usual “high” effect from the drug.

Antagonist medications used in prescription drug rehab include –

  • Naltrexone
  • Vivitrol
  • Naloxone

We can help you find the right treatment for you. Call 800-895-1695 toll free for a free consultation.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment Medications

People with long histories of prescription drug abuse often develop psychological disorders as result of ongoing drug abuse. Depression, anxiety and bipolar disorders appear most often in cases of long-term drug abuse.

Someone who has a psychological disorder on top of an addiction problem has developed what’s known as a dual diagnosis condition. Under these conditions, treating a person’s psychological state becomes just as important as treating the addiction itself, otherwise symptoms of the psychological disorder will only aggravate a person’s desire to resume drug use.

Dual diagnosis treatment medications most often used include –

  • Sedatives
  • Antidepressants
  • Beta blockers
  • Sleep aids
  • Antipsychotics

It’s important to get proper treatment when you have a co-occurring disorder. We can help you find that treatment. Call 800-895-1695 toll free today.


While medications used in prescription drug rehab can provide considerable relief from withdrawal and drug cravings effects, it’s equally important to participate in ongoing behavioral treatment. Behavioral treatments help addicts work through the psychological dependency that addiction breeds, which is where the roots of addiction lie.

Overall, medication treatments make it possible for a person to feel normal again as opposed to the emotional roller coaster that addiction’s aftereffects bring. In the process, people in recovery can get the most out of the drug treatment process.