Millions of people in the United States take prescription drugs to treat a medical condition. Some may assume that prescription medications are always safe to use, but many have the potential to be addictive.

Research from 2021 showed that over 14 million people 12 and older had abused a prescription drug in the previous year. Prescription drug abuse can lead to serious, sometimes life-threatening problems. People who develop prescription drug addiction often need professional treatment and ongoing support to recover.

This article will explore what happens in treatment for prescription drug addiction. You will learn how to recognize when someone is addicted to prescription drugs and where to find treatment in Florida.

Addiction is a complex condition. If you or a loved one are struggling with prescription drug abuse, treatment can help. Contact the First Step Behavioral Health specialists now to learn about your treatment options.

Prescription Drug Abuse: An Overview

Doctors across the world write prescriptions for a wide range of medications. Most medical professionals agree that it is generally safe to take prescription medications under careful medical guidance. However, some drugs have the potential for abuse and addiction.

Prescription drug misuse includes:

  • Taking higher doses of a medication than your doctor prescribed
  • Taking a drug more often than prescribed
  • Using a prescription drug for longer than prescribed
  • Taking a prescription drug differently than your doctor advised, such as crushing and snorting your pills
  • Taking a medication without a prescription for it

People may like the side effects of certain medications. This can lead to misuse. Over time, people may develop a physical dependence on a drug.

After using a drug for some time, people may develop tolerance. Tolerance means the body has adjusted to a specific dose of a drug. People with drug tolerance may discover they need to take a higher dose to get the effects they want.

People who use a prescription medication recreationally (without a prescription for it) are more likely to develop an addiction. However, people who take medications as prescribed can sometimes develop symptoms of addiction.

Commonly Abused Prescription Drugs

Some prescription drugs can change how the brain and body work. These changes may make it very difficult for people to stop using them. Some drugs also have pleasant side effects that make people want to use them more. This can lead to misuse and addiction.

Certain types of prescription drugs have a significant risk for abuse and addiction. Here are some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs.


Benzodiazepines (benzos) are a type of prescription drugs people take to manage symptoms of panic and anxiety disorders. These drugs calm central nervous system (CNS) activity. This provides relief from anxiety.

Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include:

  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Xanax (alprazolam)
  • Valium (diazepam)

Research from 2021 showed that about 4 million people in the United States had a prescription for a benzodiazepine drug. It also showed that about 12,000 people died from a drug overdose involving benzos.


Opioids are a type of drug used to treat pain. Opioids bind to receptors in the brain. They affect parts of the brain related to pain control, pleasure, reward, and emotional control.

Opioids are highly addictive. Doctors typically prescribe opioids for short periods. This can reduce the risk of addiction.

Common prescription opioids include:

  • Vicodin (hydrocodone)
  • OxyContin (oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl

Doctors may prescribe opioid painkillers to patients who have had surgery or during treatment for another medical condition. The United States is experiencing an opioid crisis. Recent research showed that nearly 16,000 people died from an overdose involving prescription opioids.


Barbiturates are a class of sedative drugs. Commonly prescribed barbiturates include:

  • Amytal (amobarbital)
  • Luminal (phenobarbital)
  • Seconal (secobarbital)
  • Nembutal (pentobarbital)

Barbiturates are highly addictive. Research from 2021 showed that over 2 million people in the US were addicted to barbiturates.

What to Expect in Prescription Drug Rehab

When someone is addicted to prescription drugs, they may exhibit physical and behavioral signs. They may become secretive, use more of their medication than prescribed, or face legal and financial trouble.

If you or a loved one take commonly misused prescription drugs, watch for signs of misuse and addiction. It is critical to be aware of the signs of addiction and seek treatment as quickly as possible.

During treatment, you will receive emotional and medical assistance to detox from prescription drugs safely. You will find support and learn to avoid relapse. You may participate in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.

Your treatment plan may include:

  • Medically supervised detox programs
  • Mental health treatment
  • Medications
  • Counseling
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Relapse prevention education
  • Nutrition support, mindfulness, music therapy, exercise, and other holistic therapies
  • Education and counseling for family members
  • Aftercare planning

After completing a treatment program, you must follow an aftercare plan. This will allow you to manage the symptoms of a substance use disorder.

Find a Prescription Drug Rehab in Florida

If you or someone you love struggles with prescription drug abuse, you are not alone. Reach out to the First Step Behavioral Health specialists now to learn about our South Florida treatment center.

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