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NIDA. (2005, September 9). NIDA Community Drug Alert Bulletin - Prescription Drugs. Retrieved from

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What are the treatments for prescription drug abuse?

Years of research have shown that addiction to any drug, illicit or prescribed, like other chronic diseases, can be treated effectively. However, no single type of treatment is appropriate for all individuals with addictions. To be successful, treatment must take into account the type of drug used as well as the needs of the user. Treatment may incorporate several behavioral and pharmacological components, as well as detoxification. Because drug abuse is a chronic and relapsing disease, multiple courses of treatment may be needed for patients to make a full recovery.

There are two main categories of drug addiction treatment-
behavioral and pharmacological.

Behavioral Treatment
Behavioral drug abuse treatments?such as individual counseling, group or family counseling, contingency management, and cognitive-behavioral therapy-teach patients how to stop using drugs, how to handle cravings, how to prevent a relapse, and how to handle a relapse if one should occur. When delivered effectively, behavioral treatments also can help patients improve their personal relationships and ability to function at work and within the community.

Pharmacological Treatment
Some addictions, such as opioid addiction, can be treated with medications. Methadone and buprenorphine currently are used to treat heroin addiction, but they also may prove useful in treating addiction to pain relievers. Further research is needed to determine whether these medications will provide an effective treatment for prescription drug abuse.

Research shows that a combination of both behavioral and pharmacological treatments is the most effective strategy, especially for treating opioid addiction.