Residential Treatment for Prescription Drug Addiction

Man struggling with binge drinking

Contributor: Marissa A. Angileri, MSW, CADC, Addiction Specialist, Timberline Knolls Residential Center

“But, it’s prescribed!” I hear this statement many times during the assessment process in my position as a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor.

Some examples of prescription medications include opioids which are used for pain (Vicodin, Oxycontin), depressants which are used for anxiety and sleep (Valium, Xanax), stimulants which are used for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and narcolepsy (Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin), and over-the-counter (OTC) such as cough and cold medications (Dextromethorphan also known as “DXM”).

What Prescription Drug Addiction Looks Like

Some warning signs of prescription drug addiction can be: taking someone else’s prescription medication for your own usage; taking your own prescribed medication but taking more than the prescribed dosage; or taking your prescribed medication for other purposes than what it is prescribed for.

Some addictive behaviors can be: using multiple pharmacies to avoid being noticed during more frequent refills; seeking out medications that are not actually needed (i.e. pain medications even when the person is not in physical pain); drinking alcohol while using prescription medications, or changing the route of administration from oral to snorting, chewing, or injecting intravenously.

When prescription medications are taken as prescribed, they safely treat mental and physical symptoms. When abused, the prescriptions affect the brain similarly to illicit substances. For people who have a prescription drug addiction, they may not see it as an issue or problem because they deny that their use causes their life to be unmanageable.

The Initial Residential Treatment Experience

Much like other drug rehabilitation facilities, when someone enters into treatment to recover


from an addiction, they are unable to continue the use of that substance upon entering, even if it is prescribed.

During the first 24 to 72 hours, the resident may feel heightened anxiety, restlessness, discomfort, trouble sleeping, or inability to stay awake due to the absence of the prescriptions they were addicted to.

The resident will meet with a psychiatrist and medical doctor on a weekly basis to ensure that moving forward they are taking the correct medications. The psychiatrist can suggest genetic testing to find out when medications react to each individual’s genetic makeup, as well as psychiatric testing to determine whether there might be any underlying mental health diagnoses. There is around-the-clock nursing staff to safely dispense medications.

Importance of Individualized Treatment

Each resident is given a primary therapist to work with on an individual basis; this person may also participate in family therapy. The resident will develop realistic goals that they wish to accomplish while they are in treatment. The residents attend all-day group programing to address their recovery needs; this provides structure and balance.

Doctor Taking Blood Pressure

Residents also have the opportunity to attend 12-Step meetings where they are able to obtain a Sponsor who will guide them through the 12-Step model of recovery and hold them accountable to their short and long term goals in recovery.

Once residents have met their goals, they are able to step down to a lower level of care, such as Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) or Intensive Outpatient (IOP), to continue using the skills they have gained while applying more of their own self-motivation.


Marissa AngileriAbout the Author: Marissa Angileri, MSW, CADC, is an Addictions Specialist at Timberline Knolls. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Communications and a Master’s in Social Work degree with a specialization in Addictions Counseling at Aurora University in Aurora, Illinois.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on May 16, 2017
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 1, 2017.
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