Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment options for prescription drug abuse vary, but counseling, also called talk therapy or psychotherapy, is typically a key part of treatment.


Counseling — whether it's individual, group or family counseling — can help determine what factors may have led to the prescription drug abuse, such as an underlying mental health problem or relationship problems. Counseling can also help you learn the skills needed to resist cravings, avoid abuse of drugs and help prevent recurrence of prescription drug problems.

Through counseling, you can learn strategies for developing positive relationships and identify ways to become involved in healthy activities that aren't related to drugs.


Depending on the drug and usage, detoxification may be needed as part of treatment. Withdrawal can be dangerous and should be done under a doctor's care.

  • Opioid withdrawal. Buprenorphine, buprenorphine with naloxone (Suboxone) or methadone may be used by doctors under specific and regulated conditions to ease the symptoms of withdrawal from opioid painkillers. Other drugs — including clonidine (Catapres), a medication primarily used for high blood pressure — can be used to help manage opioid withdrawal symptoms.
  • Withdrawal from sedatives or anti-anxiety medications (anxiolytics). If you've used prescription sedatives or anti-anxiety medications for a long time, it may take weeks or even months to slowly taper off them. Because of lengthy withdrawal syndrome symptoms, it can take that long for your body to adjust to low doses of the medication and then get used to taking no medication at all. You may need other types of medications to stabilize your mood or help with anxiety, and you'll need to work closely with your doctor.
  • Stimulant withdrawal. There are no approved drugs used for treating stimulant withdrawal. Treatment typically focuses on tapering off the medication and relieving withdrawal symptoms — such as sleep, appetite and mood disturbances.
Dec. 05, 2014