Prescription drug detoxification (or “detox”) is needed when an individual becomes addicted to a prescription medication and needs to stop using the drug. In recent years, the abuse of prescription drugs has become more rampant; this is due partly to the widespread availability of the medications and because of the high-risk level for addiction. Drugs such as Vicodin, Oxycontin, and various opiates are often prescribed to address legitimate physical and mental ailments; however, when taken without medical supervision, these types of drugs can be heavily misused. Specifically, teenagers in the United States have become increasingly exposed to prescription drugs, accelerating the potential for abuse and addiction.
Unlike other types of substance abuse, prescription drug abuse affects the user on both physical and psychological levels. Not only does the user’s body become addicted to the drug, but the addict also continues to use the drug in order to avoid prolonged mental distress. Depending on the type of prescription drug being abused, users can experience physical symptoms that mimic their initial disorder when that individual abruptly stops using the drug. For example, if an individual was prescribed an anti-depressant such as Valium and then stops taking the drug after repeated use, s/he may experience severe episodes of anxiety or depression. This cycle of usage perpetuates the abuse, as the individual continues to take the drug in order to sate his or her physical and mental dependence.
The intensity of the detox process depends on the individual, the severity of the addiction, the type of prescription drug being abused, and the amount of time the addict has been using the drug. Individuals addicted to some prescription drugs (e.g. barbiturates) can undergo life threatening withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuing the use of the drug, which is why it is important to have a medical professional supervise or be involved in the detoxification process. Medical detox treatment options are created on an individual basis, and these detox programs are intended to minimize the risks of withdrawal symptoms and address the root psychological causes of the addiction.