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When considering how to stop taking prescription drugs, several factors need to be discussed with a medical or addiction professional. This will enable you to stop safely, without causing any harm to your physical or mental well being.

spoonful of prescription drugs and medication

Abusing prescription drugs or taking them for an extended period of time can lead to a physical drug dependence. When this happens, it is not safe to just suddenly stop.

Certain prescription drugs have addictive properties. When taken for a prolonged period of time, even for a genuine complaint, withdrawal symptoms will occur when you try to stop. This does not necessarily mean you are addicted, it means you are drug dependent.

Here we look at how to safely stop taking prescription drugs when you have a physical dependence. We also look at how to stop when a far more serious problem has developed – prescription drug abuse and addiction.

Am I addicted to prescription drugs?

There is a substantial difference between being just physically dependent on prescription drugs and being addicted.

Addiction is a recognised disorder of the brain that is characterised by progression, relapse and compulsive drug seeking and taking despite negative consequences 1

Physical drug dependence can unfortunately be an unintentional side effect of certain medications when taken for extended periods of time. Providing you do not have any symptoms of addiction, you should not have too much trouble stopping. This you should do with the help and guidance of your prescriber.

If you are suffering from an addiction to prescription drugs, stopping is not that easy. Staying stopped will prove an even bigger challenge.

Untreated addiction nearly always results in relapse. Even once detoxed, if you suffer from addiction to prescribed drugs, your brain will continue to compulsively seek and take them 1

In order to avoid prescription drug relapse or a worsening of your condition, professional addiction treatment is medically recommended.

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Signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction

reaching for medication

Prescription drug addiction occurs through repeated abuse of prescription drugs.
Although it’s important to note that it IS possible to become addicted though following a genuine prescription IF you have addictive tendencies.

Some people are predisposed to developing addiction and at higher risk than others. Influential factors that contribute to addiction include: genetics and personal biology, environmental circumstances, previous or a current addiction problems, mental health illness and unresolved trauma 2

Signs and symptoms of prescription drug addiction include:

  • Self-medicating uncomfortable emotions through abusing prescription drugs
  • Repeatedly abusing prescription drugs in order to get high (including mixing with alcohol and other drugs)
  • Being dishonest, manipulative and secretive with doctors and family members around your prescription drug taking and where you are sourcing them from
  • Taking prescription drugs despite harmful consequences to your health, relationships, career and finances
  • Wanting to stop taking prescription drugs but being unable to
  • Taking more and more prescription drugs in order to gain the drugs initial sought after effects
  • Experiencing strong cravings for prescription drugs that you are unable to resist

Whilst not everyone who suffers from addiction has a physical dependence, it is more often the case than not. Missing a dose or trying to stop abruptly will cause unpleasant, even dangerous withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can only be relieved by taking more prescription drugs or by undergoing a medical detox.

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When to stop taking prescription drugs

When to stop taking prescription drugs will only usually present as a dilemma for an individual who suffers from addiction. Someone who is just drug dependent, who no longer has a genuine need for prescription drugs, will have little hesitation in consulting their doctor regarding a safe reduction regime.

If you are abusing prescription drugs or suffering from addiction, the best time to stop is as soon as you are willing to do so and have a treatment plan in place.
Suffering from addiction symptoms, a professional treatment plan can make all the difference in whether you succeed in stopping prescription drugs or not.

There is so much more to prescription drug addiction treatment than just stopping the prescription drugs safely; staying stopped will be the biggest challenge. This is where evidence based treatments and a comprehensive rehabilitation programme can be extremely beneficial to your long term abstinence.

You can start the process of recovery today by contacting us at Delamere.

How to stop abusing prescription drugs

If you are looking for ways to stop abusing prescription drugs, this strongly suggests that you cannot do so on will power alone.

How you stop abusing prescription drugs is always worth discussing with a professional first. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another.

Successful addiction treatment comprises of several components tailored to your needs as an individual 3

If you have tried to stop using prescription drugs without success, you may require an inpatient rehab stay. This will enable you to safely recover without the added temptation, stress and pressure that staying in the community brings.

Prescription drug rehabilitation needs to address the underlying reasons of why you became addicted to abusing prescription drugs and help to heal them. It should also address and treat (with medication if necessary) any co occurring mental health illnesses 3

Behavioural therapies and counselling are a large part of rehabilitation. Addiction manifests in unhealthy thought patterns, belief systems and behaviours 3. Stopping the prescription drugs, whilst absolutely necessary to recovery, really is only the very tip of the iceberg.

Prescription drug help now

If you are ready to accept help for a prescription drug problem now, we at Delamere are waiting to take your call. We provide everything you need to recover from prescription drug addiction within our unique purpose built CQC registered rehab facility.

Delamere rehab provides a safe haven, staffed by an elite team of medical professionals, counsellors and therapists. We provide a full medical detox and bespoke rehabilitation programme for those that want to stop taking prescription drugs.

By undergoing one of our detox and rehabilitation programmes you never have to worry about feeling alone or returning back to active addiction again. We only use the latest in advanced addiction treatments to help our patient to heal and recover fully.

Struggling with prescription drug addiction? Take action today…

For more information speak to our team about how we can help you grow beyond addiction and find residential treatment programmes today.

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Call us confidentially at any time to speak to a member of our team.

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  1. American Psychiatric Association. What is addiction? 
  2. NIDA.National Institute on drug abuse – Rice DP. Economic Costs of Substance Abuse, 1995. Proc Assoc Am Phys 111(2): 119-125, 1999
  3. NIH Treatment approaches for drug addiction 
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