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Medications Used in Prescription Drug Detox


The two most common types of prescription drug abuse include use of opiates and the use of stimulants. Both prescription opiate addiction and prescription stimulant addiction can occur as a result of using these substances. When you stop using the drug, the term used to describe the early phase of quitting in a medical environment is called detoxification or detox for short. Prescription drug detox is the first step in the treatment of addiction. Without the use of medications, detox can be extremely unpleasant. When you use medications to help alleviate the symptoms of detoxification and withdrawal, it can help you through detox with a decreased risk of relapse.

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Medications for Prescription Opiate Drug Detox

Opiate withdrawal is called one of the worst out of all of the addictive drugs. Some doctors will use tapering as a form of detoxification. Tapering is sometimes difficult because it involves self restraint. According to the Mayo Clinic, when tapering does not work doctors use:

Prescription Drug Detox

Medications are used in detox to reduce withdrawal symptoms and reestablish normal brain function.


Buprenorphine tricks the body into thinking there are opiates in the brain, which stops the withdrawal reactions.


Naloxone is used to cause withdrawal in those who are on or overdosing from opiates.


Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. This keeps the body from going into withdrawal and prevents the sedation from opiates.


Although not typical, some doctors will use methadone for patients who are addicted to opiates and are in chronic pain.

The type of drug a doctor uses to help with prescription opiate detox depends on you and your situation. To find a treatment center that can help, call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) .

Another drug, Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids. It is important to note that this drug should only be used when an addict is already past the point of detoxification. Naltrexone blocks opiates completely and is not a detoxification treatment.

Medications for Prescription Stimulant Detox

Although there are currently no specific drugs for prescription stimulant detox, most doctors either taper you off the original stimulant by slowly reducing the dosage. Tapering is a very common practice for those who are on drugs where a chemical dependence or addiction is likely.

Prescription stimulant addiction and detoxification are difficult to treat. There are no medications currently approved for detoxification from prescription stimulant medications such as ADHD medications and amphetamines.

Medication for General Prescription Drug Detox

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, medications are used in approximately 80 percent of the detoxification programs to help:

  • treat the physical symptoms of detox and withdrawal
  • reduce cravings
  • reduce psychological symptoms
  • reestablish normal brain function

These medications can range from prescription to over the counter medications depending on the symptom. Some of the general medications used for prescription drug detox are:

  • anti-emetics to decrease vomiting
  • anti-nausea
  • anti-diarrheal
  • anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines
  • anti-seizure medications to reduce the risk of convulsions
  • decongestants
  • blood pressure medications to reduce the risk of stroke
  • antibiotics, to prevent secondary infection from a weakened immune system

These are all part of most prescription drug detoxification programs. The exact medications that doctors use depends on the type of prescription drug detox you are going through. To find a treatment center that uses medications for drug detox, call 800-996-6135(Who Answers?) . We can help you end your drug addiction.


  1. Mayo Clinic. (2015). Prescription Drug Abuse. 
  2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Buprenorphine.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2018). Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction. 
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