Treatments and drugs

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Treatment options for prescription drug abuse vary, depending on the type of drug used and your needs. But counseling, or sometimes psychotherapy, is typically a key part of treatment. Treatment may also require withdrawal (detoxification), addiction medication and recovery support.


A licensed alcohol and drug counselor or other addiction specialist can provide individual, group or family counseling. This can help you:

  • Determine what factors may have led to the prescription drug abuse, such as an underlying mental health problem or relationship problems
  • Learn the skills needed to resist cravings, avoid abuse of drugs and help prevent recurrence of prescription drug problems
  • Learn strategies for developing positive relationships
  • Identify ways to become involved in healthy activities that aren't related to drugs
  • Learn the steps to take if a relapse happens


Depending on the prescription 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. Opioid tapering involves gradually decreasing the dose of medication until it's no longer used. Other medications — such as clonidine (Catapres), a drug mainly used for high blood pressure — can be used to help manage opioid withdrawal symptoms during this process. Buprenorphine, buprenorphine with naloxone (Suboxone) or methadone may be used by doctors under specific, legally regulated and monitored conditions to ease symptoms of withdrawal from opioid painkillers. Vivitrol, a version of the drug naltrexone, given by injection once a month by a health care provider may help people stay off opioids early in their recovery.
  • Withdrawal from sedatives or anti-anxiety medications. If you've used prescription sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs for a long time, it may take weeks to slowly taper off them. Because of withdrawal symptoms, it can take that long for your body to adjust to low doses of the medication and then get used to taking none at all. You may need other types of medication to stabilize your mood, manage the final phases of tapering 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.
Sept. 19, 2015