What Treatments are Best for Overcoming Prescription Drug Addiction?

When we think about drug addiction, the first place our minds often go to is illegal substances such as heroin, cocaine or ecstasy.

However, another common type of drug dependency is prescription drug addiction, where an individual becomes dependent on prescribed medication and finds it too difficult to control, moderate, or stop their usage.

Although not as widely understood as other forms of drug misuse, prescription drug addiction is a prevalent issue globally.

For example, a 2022 study showed that around 16.3 million Americans were reported to have misused prescription drugs, with approximately 22.6% of them being first-time abusers. (Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics, National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics.)

According to research, young adults are the most likely to abuse prescription medication; however, older patients are also at increased risk of developing prescription drug addiction.

Due to a lack of awareness around prescription drug abuse and addiction, individuals who need treatment for their addiction issues may not always seek the support and help they require, which can cause various complications for the person and their loved ones.

If you are concerned about your (or a loved one’s) prescription drug use, you must consult an addiction specialist who can provide further information and support.   

Addressing the problem sooner rather than later can help you get the treatment you need and help you avoid the long-term health complications of prescription drug addiction. 

Speak to a friendly Camino Recovery specialist today and kickstart your journey to lasting wellness and recovery.

The most commonly abused prescription drugs

The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics states psychotherapeutic medications are the most commonly abused prescription drugs. 

Doctors often prescribe these medicines to help treat physical and mental health issues. However, unfortunately, these drugs are not always used as directed by physicians; for instance, individuals may either abuse the medication their doctor has prescribed or use someone else’s prescription medicine.

Many people who abuse prescription drugs will end up needing addiction treatment – either as an outpatient or in a rehabilitation facility – to help them overcome their dependency issues.

According to research, psychotherapeutic drugs are categorised as:

  • Stimulants
  • Painkillers
  • Tranquilisers
  • Sedatives

Some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs include the following:


  • Hydrocodone (also called Vicodin)
  • Oxycodone (also called Oxycontin)
  • Fentanyl (also called Duragesic)
  • Meperidine (also called Demerol)
  • Morphine sulphate
  • Hydromorphone (also called Darvon)


  • Adderall (Amphetamine and dextroamphetamine)
  • Dexedrine (Dextroamphetamine)
  • Ritalin and Concerta (Methylphenidate)


  • Valium
  • Xanax
  • Zoloft
  • Ambien
  • Nembutal

Symptoms of prescription drug addiction

Healing Shame Addiction 2

Prescription drug addiction symptoms can vary depending on the type of drug used, the person’s medical and family history, and other factors.

However, common symptoms of prescription drug addiction can include:

  • Experiencing intense cravings for your prescription medication.
  • Feeling physically incapable of stopping your prescription medication.
  • Visiting various doctors to obtain prescription drugs or placing extra orders online.
  • Allowing your prescription medication to take priority over other things in your life, including your work and relationships.
  • Regularly increasing your prescription drug doses to experience feelings of euphoria or calmness.
  • Forging or stealing prescription medications. 

What causes someone to abuse prescription drugs?

People can begin abusing prescription drugs for various reasons. 

However, one of the most common reasons is due to chronic stress, where an individual uses substances to cope with work stress, relationship issues, or past trauma.

As well as the above, researchers found that people may also abuse prescription medication for a variety of other reasons, including the following:

  • Pain relief
  • To help improve concentration and alertness
  • To reduce appetite
  • Experimental purposes
  • To help them study better
  • To be accepted by peers 
  • To increase or reduce the effects of other drugs


Your doctor will likely conduct a series of tests and examinations to determine a prescription drug addiction diagnosis based mainly on your symptoms, medical history and answers to your physician’s questions.

They may also run blood and urine tests to detect the type of drugs in your system and to monitor your progress during treatment. 

Depending on the outcome of your evaluation, your doctor may suggest specific medication and psychological therapies to help you manage your symptoms and overcome your addiction.

What treatments are best for overcoming prescription drug addiction?

The treatment your doctor or therapist recommends will depend on the type of drug(s) abused, the duration and severity of your addiction, your family and medical history, and other factors.

However, typically, most drug addiction treatment programs involve a combination of various therapeutic approaches and modalities. 

A holistic approach to addiction treatment is the most effective as these programs adopt a “whole” person approach to recovery instead of just focusing on an individual’s symptoms.

This can help you to get to the root cause of why you may be engaging in unhealthy behaviours such as abusing prescription medication, allowing you to develop healthier alternatives to coping with stress.

Treatment options

As mentioned, prescription drug addiction treatment varies but typically involves the following:

Drug detoxification

Prescription drug addiction treatment often begins with drug detoxification, in an inpatient rehabilitation facility.

Treatment involves ridding your body of toxins such as prescription medication and other substances you might be taking.

It also involves understanding the behavioural patterns accompanying detox and learning how to manage them. 

For example, an increase in your depression symptoms may lead to relapse if you don’t understand how or why these symptoms may present themselves.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

Young woman in meeting with female psychologist

An experienced addiction counsellor can help you understand what may have led to your prescription drug addiction. 

For example, many people develop substance addictions due to underlying mental health issues, relationship problems, or chronic stress. 

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help individuals to address and change the maladaptive thoughts and behavioural patterns that have led to their destructive coping methods, including behavioural and substance addictions. 

CBT is about changing your behaviour by altering how you think and feel and has been proven effective when addressing various addiction and mental health issues.

Eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (EMDR) 

EMDR is an effective method for treating the symptoms of trauma and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and some other mental health disorders. 

Individuals who have experienced trauma often engage in unhealthy coping behaviours such as drug misuse to help them cope with painful feelings, emotions and memories. 

Many people in addiction treatment are recommended EMDR therapy to help them address the root causes of their addiction issues. 

This treatment uses rapid eye movements (bilateral stimulation) and physical stimulation to activate both sides of the brain, and results in the release of trapped emotions attached to traumatic memories. 

Once these memories are released, the individual can experience them in a new, more empowering way, allowing them to choose their actions rather than feel powerless about their reactions.

Art therapy 

Young Woman Artist Working On Painting In Studio. Selective focus on foreground

Art therapy encourages self-expression and creativity, which can significantly benefit those experiencing addiction issues, trauma or chronic stress, as many individuals with these problems find it difficult to express their feelings openly. 

This treatment allows you to begin to understand, explore and resolve long-standing issues that you may find hard to discuss or share with others, helping you to tap into your creativity and imagination.

Twelve-step program 

The twelve-step treatment program is a guiding framework that offers addicted individuals various therapeutic interventions based on their unique needs and goals. 

Twelve-step treatment works on the understanding that individuals support one another through the healing process, allowing them to remain in long-term remission from impulsive/compulsive behaviours, including alcohol and drug addiction.

Individual therapy 

Discussing your addiction issues with a stranger can be uncomfortable for many. 

This is understandable since all forms of addiction are often stigmatised even today, making it challenging for people to open up about their addiction problems and let their feelings out.

However, an integral part of addiction recovery is having a safe space to discuss your problems and find alternative ways of coping with stress instead of using prescription drugs or other substances.

Individual therapy provides people with a safe, non-judgmental environment where they can receive the compassion, care and support they need and deserve for lasting healing and recovery.

Group therapy

Group therapy session sitting in a circle. Sunbeam background. Selective focus.

Group therapy is highly effective as part of a prescription drug addiction treatment plan. 

It is usually facilitated by one or more experienced therapists who treat several clients simultaneously.

Group therapy offers a supportive environment to those in addiction recovery, where they can discuss their addictive issues openly with others who share similar challenges and experiences.

Connecting with others while gaining insight from sharing your experiences can be cathartic and help you view your past experiences in a more empowering way.

Group therapy adopts various approaches and modalities, including psychodrama, psychodynamic process groups, psychoeducational groups, and focused expressive groups to help you get the most out of your treatment and develop a more profound understanding of yourself and your addictive behaviours.

Additional treatment options

Other treatments for prescription drug addiction may also include the following:

Coping with prescription drug addiction

Coping with prescription drug addiction can be a lifelong challenge, but recovery is possible with proper treatment, care and support.

As well as addiction treatment, you may find it helpful to reach out to friends, family members and trusted organisations who can provide additional support and resources.

You may also find it helpful to reach out to:

  • Your local church or faith group
  • A school nurse or counsellor
  • Your local GP or doctor (who can provide additional support and resources to help you manage your addiction)
  • Employee assistance programs that offer either online or in-person support

Prescription drug addiction treatment at Camino Recovery

Camino Recovery provides personalised addiction and mental health treatment to clients in Spain and the United Kingdom.

Our holistic approach to prescription drug addiction treatment blends various strategies and therapeutic methods for your unique needs, goals, and preferences. 

We adopt a client-centric approach to addiction and mental health recovery, focusing on the “whole” person, not just their symptoms. 

In our experience, getting to the root cause of your addiction issues leads to better recovery outcomes, ensuring you get the most out of treatment.

Addiction does not determine your life or future potential – there are ways to overcome your issues and see beyond your past where you can step into the bright future you always imagined.

And all this and more is possible at Camino Recovery!

Contact our friendly team today and learn more about our prescription drug addiction program.

We are here and ready to help!

Additional resources

1. Prescription Drug Abuse Statistics, National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics
2. Addiction to prescription drugs, Harvard Health Publishing

David Scourfield

David Scourfield is a Camino Recovery team member since 2017, focused on facilitating communication with Clinical and other professionals to ensure a comprehensive understanding of Camino's program.

Combining his marketing skills and lived experiences, he joined Camino in 2017, contributing to external publications and the Camino website. With a strong belief in solidarity during the recovery process, David helps clients build support networks by connecting them with others in recovery.

More from David Scourfield

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