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Drug and Prescription Drug Addiction Treatment

People become addicted to recreational drugs and prescription drugs for many reasons.

In some cases, it is a response to trauma, extreme stress or anxiety. In others, it’s an addictive habit that begins while treating a medical illness with strong painkillers or stimulants.

When a person is unable to control their drug or prescription drug use, they are understood to have developed substance use disorder (SUD).

The good news: With the right support, it is possible to treat SUD and recover from addiction.

What is substance abuse disorder?

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a treatable medical condition that affects a person’s brain and behaviour. It involves the uncontrolled use of illegal drugs, prescription drugs and/or alcohol.

People with SUD have symptoms that range from moderate to severe. Addiction is the most severe form of SUD.

When a person is addicted to recreational drugs or prescription drugs, they are unable to control their use of a substance.

People with SUD may experience changes in personality, abnormal movements and other behaviours that seem out of character. Substance use may also cause changes in areas of the brain related to judgement, memory, decision-making, learning and behavioural control.

Addiction does not discriminate. It affects people of all ages from all walks of life. Drug abuse in teens can be challenging for parents, however, rehabilitation is possible.

Common symptoms of substance use disorder:

  • Intense cravings.
  • Inability to stop.
  • Using larger amounts over longer periods of time.
  • Relationship problems.
  • Problems at work.
  • Social isolation.
  • Risky behaviour. This can include sexual risks, or driving under the influence of a substance.
  • Increased tolerance.
  • Withdrawal symptoms.

What causes substance use disorder?

There are many factors, including:

  • Genetic vulnerability
  • Social pressures
  • Environmental stressors
  • Psychiatric problems; and
  • Individual personality characteristics.

Many people with substance use disorder have experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse or another type of trauma.

In many cases, substance use is an attempt to escape from the pain associated with these kinds of experiences, leading to addiction over time.

But people may start taking drugs for many other reasons, including:

  • Seeking a high, or intoxication.
  • Feeling better. Trying to relieve stress, or forget about their problems.
  • Trying to improve performance or thinking.
  • Curiosity, peer pressure and a desire to experiment.

Commonly-used drugs that can lead to addiction

  • Cocaine. A fine white powder that can be ingested, injected, snorted or smoked.
  • Methamphetamine. (“crystal meth”). A strong stimulant that can be used in several forms: As powder, crystals or tablets. It can be swallowed, smoked, snorted or injected.
  • Heroin. An opiate that can be heated, liquified and injected with a needle; or either smoked or ingested.
  • Fentanyl. An extremely potent opioid pain reliever. In medical settings, fentanyl may be prescribed as tablets, injections or skin patches. In non-medical settings, it can create a sense of euphoria when injected, smoked, snorted or ingested.

Since street drugs are often mixed with fentanyl (i.e. cocaine cut with fentanyl), it’s possible to develop a fentanyl addiction without knowing it.

Common types of prescription drug addiction

  • Prescription opioids. Includes painkillers like oxycodone, oxymorphone, codeine, morphine, prescription fentanyl, hydromorphone and others. Usually ingested orally, in the form of a pill, or as an injection.
  • Prescription stimulants. Includes methylphenidate and a mixture of dextroamphetamine/amphetamine, taken in pill form and typically used to treat ADHD or narcolepsy.
  • Anxiety pills. Includes alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium) and other benzodiazepines (“benzos”).

In many cases, people addicted to prescription drugs started using them with a doctor’s permission and developed a dependence on these medications over time.

What happens during withdrawal?

Withdrawal is the body’s reaction to a break in the use of an addictive substance.

If you suddenly stop using an addictive drug after prolonged use, intense physical, emotional and psychological symptoms may follow. Rehabilitation for drug addicts includes support through a safe withdrawal.

Cocaine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Exhaustion
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Tremors and chills
  • Nerve or muscle pain
  • Strong cravings
  • Increased appetite

Opioid withdrawal symptoms:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cold flashes
  • Goosebumps
  • Rapid pulse
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Restlessness
  • Excessive sweating.

Methamphetamine withdrawal symptoms:

  • Intense cravings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Feeling hungry all the time
  • Inability to feel pleasure
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Intense fatigue
  • Aggression
  • Poor concentration
  • Possible paranoia and hallucinations.

What is detox?

Detoxification (“detox”) is the process of clearing the body of an addictive substance — either by going “cold turkey,” or by gradually weaning the body off that substance.

Detox is also known as “withdrawal treatment.”

This is a dangerous process that can be life-threatening. It can also cause erratic behaviour that may be dangerous to people around the addicted person.

As a result of these risks, medically-supervised detox is the best option for most patients with a serious drug addiction.

What is medically-supervised detox?

Medically-supported detox uses a team of doctors, nurses and other clinicians to administer the best care. They may use medications, like naltrexone, to help the patient come down from withdrawal, and provide 24/7 monitoring of the patient. Methadone may also be used to treat opioid addiction.

Aurora Recovery Centre is the only private treatment centre in Manitoba with a 24/7 medical detox unit. This is a crucial first step toward recovery.

Unlike some other rehab facilities, you do not need to complete detox prior to seeking help for an addiction at Aurora Recovery Centres. Patients are welcomed in any condition.

Bottom line: Is drug and prescription drug addiction treatable?

Yes, absolutely.

If you’re unsure of how to support a loved one struggling with addiction, an intervention can motivate someone to accept help for drug or alcohol misuse.

With help from qualified healthcare professionals and an integrated support team, it is possible to recover from substance abuse disorder through drug addiction treatment and counselling.

The expert staff at Aurora Recovery Centre provide a medically-sound recovery programs that treat the underlying causes of addiction, as well as the physical and psychological symptoms.

Aurora treats the whole person with a compassionate, empathetic approach rooted in a deep understanding of addiction and its effects.


Answer: Common signs and symptoms include changes in behavior, physical health decline, neglecting responsibilities, and withdrawal symptoms when not using the substance.

Answer: Supporting your loved one by encouraging open communication, providing emotional support, and guiding them towards professional treatment options can be beneficial. Additionally, seeking support for yourself through counseling or support groups can aid in the process.

Answer: Treatment options may include medical detoxification, residential or outpatient rehabilitation programs, behavioral therapy, and support groups.

Answer: Yes, drug addiction is treatable. With proper support, therapy, and sometimes medication, individuals can recover and manage their addiction, leading to a healthier and more fulfilling life.

Answer: Untreated drug addiction can lead to severe health complications, strained relationships, legal issues, financial problems, and even overdose or death.

Answer: The duration of treatment varies depending on individual needs, substance abused, and the treatment program. It can range from a few weeks to several months or longer for ongoing support and relapse prevention.

Answer: Yes, there are support services such as family therapy, support groups, and educational resources specifically designed to help family members understand addiction and cope with its effects.

Answer: Yes, drug addiction often co-occurs with other mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. This is known as dual diagnosis or co-occurring disorders.


Everything shared with us is kept strictly confidential and we’re happy to make recommendations if you need a different level of care than we provide. Feel free to reach out, we’re here for you.

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