Addiction and Medicine

According to various research studies, both alcohol and substance use disorders are conditions that are characterized by impulsive, compulsive, and relapsing use. At the moment, there is no universal cure for these conditions.

However, addiction treatment and rehabilitation facilities often use medications to help people like you who might be struggling with drug addiction. Examples of these medications include Suboxone and methadone, but there are many more of them. If you are addicted to alcohol, the treatment center might also recommend that you take benzodiazepines and psychiatric drugs to help with your alcohol use disorders.

In the following guide, you will learn about all the different medications that might be prescribed to you once you are enrolled in a drug and alcohol addiction treatment and rehabilitation center.

Understanding Medication Assisted Treatment

Many people think that using drugs while trying to deal with a substance use disorder is equal to substituting one drug/alcohol addiction for another. However, SAMHSA - the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - reports that there are some medications that you can use alongside evidence based counseling and therapy to treat your addiction.

All of these medications are approved by the FDA - the Food and Drug Administration - so you should not be worried about taking them, as long as you do so in the controlled environment provided by a drug rehab program.

These drugs could also potentially help you remain for longer in the treatment program. In the process, they might even extend your periods of recovery and sobriety, as well as ensure that you are able to overcome your substance use disorder once and for all.

The combination of prescription medications with evidence based rehabilitation is commonly referred to as medication assisted treatment - or MAT. Many addiction treatment programs integrate this form of rehabilitation both for drug and for alcohol abuse disorders.

When you are trying to recover from a substance use disorder, there is a high probability that you are going to suffer strong drug and alcohol cravings. This is even if you have already been through a medically managed detox program.

These cravings are normal for anyone who has been attempting to get and stay free of drugs and alcohol. Even so, they could interfere with your recovery process by increase your risk of a relapse.

Luckily, medication assisted treatment could potentially help you remain clean by reducing these cravings. The medications that are used through this form of therapy have proved to be quite successful at helping addicts deal with their cravings and stave them off, as well as promoting their long term abstinence.

The combination of evidence based therapies and medications could also teach you how to manage your relapse triggers and drug cravings on the emotional and cognitive level. By so doing, they could potentially promote your sobriety for extended periods of time.

Protocols for Medication Assisted Treatment

When you decide to get help for your substance use disorder, you will typically go through a thorough evaluation and assessment by the intake professionals. This evaluation has three main goals:

  • To assess you for the presence of other co-occurring medical and mental health disorders over and above your addiction
  • To evaluate the extent and severity of your drug and/or alcohol addiction
  • To properly diagnose your substance abuse and addiction program

After you have been assessed, the addiction treatment professionals will decide if you are ideal for medication assisted treatment. SAMHSA reports that you might be a good MAT candidate if you:

  • Are willing to continue complying with all the prescribing instructions that you receive
  • Fully understand all the alternative options that you have
  • Lack the physical health issues that these medications might potentially exacerbate
  • Were officially diagnosed with a substance use disorder involving opioids or alcohol
  • On the other hand, you might not be the right candidate for this form of treatment in case you have:
  • A relatively low level or no motivation at all to start getting sober and achieve full recovery
  • An addiction involving another substance that cannot be treated using medications approved by the FDA
  • Any history of medication abuse and misuse
  • Co-occurring addictions that involve more than one drug that could potentially interact negatively with your prescribed medications
  • Severe physical limitations, including heart and lung conditions that could potentially be complicated by the addiction treatment medications

Common Addiction Treatment Medications

At the moment, there are different types of medications that might be prescribed to you in the context of an addiction treatment program. Most of these medications are designed to deal with both alcohol and drug use.

1. Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist medications. As such, it is commonly prescribed for the treatment of opioid use disorders - whether these disorders involve prescription opioid pain relief medications like Vicodin and OxyContin or an illicit opioid like heroin.

Buprenorphine is also among the few drugs that are used to deal with opioid dependence and addiction. Additionally, it is the first medication that a doctor can prescribe and give to you. This makes it unique because most of the other drugs that are used in medication assisted treatment can only be administered in a clinic - such as methadone which is only available at methadone clinics.

However, you will typically not get a prescription for buprenorphine on its own. Instead, it will be given as one of the components of a more comprehensive addiction recovery program so that it can help address all your individual needs.

On its own, buprenorphine could increase your risk of suffering prescription diversion and future drug abuse. This is because it produces effects that are similar to what you would experience if you abused other opioids.

However, any formulation that contains buprenorphine and another substance such as naloxone could reduce the abuse potential of the substance. This is because the naloxone component will effectively block the opioid effect of buprenorphine. It can also initial powerful withdrawal symptoms if you try to abuse the drug.

If you take any medication that contains buprenorphine exactly as your doctors and addiction treatment professionals recommended, it can alleviate all the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that you might be feeling, as well as decrease the drug cravings that are associated with your opioid use disorder.

It is also difficult to overdose on any addiction treatment medication that contains buprenorphine. This is because the drug has a ceiling effect. After reaching a given dose, to this end, the effects of the drug will plateau. This means that you will not experience any other effects even after increasing the dose of the drug.

Today, buprenorphine is sold under various trade names, the most common of which include:

a) Buprenorphine Only

  • Buprenex
  • Butrans

b) Buprenorphine and Naloxone

  • Bunavil
  • Suboxone
  • Zubsolv

The fact that buprenorphine is a partial agonist means that it comes with a ceiling with its opioid effects. As a result, it cannot elicit the powerful high that you would otherwise have experienced from other full agonists.

SAMHSA also reports that this working mechanism means that there is a relatively low risk of abusing and misusing buprenorphine. Taking this drug would also not come with withdrawal effects that are powerful as those would typically experience after taking a full agonist.

To this end, buprenorphine can be effective when you are in a weaning system, where you take it as a drug to replace the opioids that you used to abuse. In the long term, this type of medication assisted treatment could prove effective in reducing and eliminating your opioid use disorder.

Although buprenorphine is effective at dealing with the adverse effects of an opioid use disorder, it also comes with its own side effects. Some of the potential side effects that you might experience on taking this drug include:

  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Vomiting

Buprenorphine is also classified as a partial opioid agonist. This means that its potential side effects tend to be similar to those that you would typically experience if you were taking any other opioid like a prescription pain relief drug or an illicit opioid such as heroin.

2. Probuphine

Apart from buprenorphine, you can also take probuphine. This drug was approved in 2016 by the FDA as a buprenorphine implant. It is also effective in the treatment of opioid dependence and addiction.

Probuphine is like naltrexone and methadone in the sense that it can help you by alleviating your withdrawal symptoms and opioid cravings without causing you to experience any euphoric pleasure from its use.

It is applied in many addiction treatment centers to stabilize clients. When you use it, it can reduce the drug cravings that you might have been experience as a result of your opioid use disorder. As a result, probuphine can help you become more engaged in your therapy and treatment.

The probuphine implant is comprised of four rods that the doctor will insert into your upper arm. After that, the rods will start administering the buprenorphine drug in a continuous dose - right up in your bloodstream for about 6 months.

This mode of operation makes probuphine quite effective, and one of the best alternatives to most of the other types of buprenorphine - including both dissolvable films and daily pills.

Addiction treatment programs will typically prescribe this medication if you are already stable and are on a low to a moderate buprenorphine dose. However, the drug is not recommended for use beyond the second 6 month treatment period.

Some of the benefits that you stand to gain when you take probuphine over any other opioid maintenance medication like methadone include but are not always limited to:

  • You don't have to take the drug on a daily basis because it will release buprenorphine in low doses but continuously
  • You cannot abuse probuphine if you allow the implant to remain in place

However, if you remove or expel the probuphine implant, there is a high risk that you could experience intention substance abuse or accidental exposure to the drug.

3. Methadone

Since methadone is classified as a full opioid agonist, it effective means that it will produce effects that are similar to any other opioid drug. However, this medication is longer lasting than most of the other opioids. As a result, it only produces mild effects that might not necessary impact your ability to continue functioning normally.

In the addiction treatment field, methadone is prescribed to alleviate drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. This means that it could prove useful if you are addicted to any opioid, including both pain relief medications and heroin.

In fact, studies have shown that a single dose of this drug could potentially prevent your withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings for at least 36 hours - about 1 ? days. This is according to CSAT - the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. However, methadone also comes with a relatively high risk of substance abuse. It is for this reason that the drug is only administered in clinical settings on set schedules.

Although methadone comes with effects that are relatively mild, taking this drug could still cause you to experience some unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal especially if you suddenly stop your methadone therapy. For this reason, it is essential that you talk with your doctor in case you would like to stop using the medication.

Some of the side effects that you might also experience when you are taking methadone include but are not limited to:

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood changes
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Stomach pain
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

Although these side effects might prove to be troubling, they are rarely dangerous. However, there is also a risk that you could experience other serious side effects of methadone use, including:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Face swelling
  • Hallucinations
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Seizures
  • Severe drowsiness

Even so, the fact that methadone is only available in special methadone clinics means that you would get the medical help and attention that you need in case you develop any of these adverse side effects.

4. Naloxone

As an opioid agonist, naloxone is also among the drugs that are used in medication assisted treatment programs for opioid use disorders. The drug works by blocking opioid activity within the receptor sites of these drugs. By so doing, it could potentially reverse or prevent an overdose condition that could otherwise have proved to be fatal.

In medical emergencies, addiction treatment programs might administer this drug as an injection. This is particularly try if you are going through a drug overdose emergency involving opioids.

Since naloxone could potentially prove to be lifesaving, it is recommended that all the people who abuse opioids as well as their loved ones and friends learn and understand how the drug works, and how they need to administer it in case of any overdose situation.

Today, naloxone is available in the form of automatic injection devices. You can find the drug at harm reduction community centers - especially if you live in an area that has been affected by the opioid crisis.

These automatic injection devices come with voice control. When you activate them, they will walk you through the step by step manner in which you need to administer the naloxone content.

In case you have received an injection device because you were abusing opioids, or you have a close loved one who is, it is essential that you always have it with you at all times. This is because you cannot tell when you might need to use it - if you ever come across an emergency situation.

You should also understand all the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose. This way, you will be able to recognize any emergency overdose situation so that you can administer the drug. Some of these signs include:

  • Tiny and constricted pupils
  • Shallow breathing
  • Severe drowsiness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Unresponsiveness

5. Naltrexone

Naltrexone is another drug that you can use to prevent the adverse effects of other opioids and of alcohol. It is available in both pill and injectable forms that can be used to help you if you are struggling with an alcohol or an opioid use disorder.

The injectable form of Naltrexone is commonly referred to as Vivitrol. The drug is typically administered intramuscularly. This means that you only need a month's dose while using it. It can also be administered orally, which should happen once every day. Naltrexone is unlike methadone and buprenorphine in the sense that you cannot divert or abuse it.

The drug works by blocking the receptor sites for opioids. As a result, using Naltrexone at the same time as opioids and alcohol means that you will not be able to experience the pleasurable euphoria that is typically associated with these intoxicating substances. As a result, the medication could potentially decrease your urge to drink alcohol or abuse opioids.

However, Naltrexone can decrease your opioid tolerance. If you were to relapse after being on this medication for a given period of time, there is a high risk that the situation could prove to be dangerous and lead to fatal respiratory depression and overdose. This only applies to opioid use disorders that you are trying to treat using this drug.

On the other hand, there are no risks that could occur if you continue drinking alcohol while you are on Naltrexone. However, drinking excessively could cause you to suffer severe liver damage. It is for this reason that experts recommend that you follow your doctor's prescription and instructions carefully. When you take Naltrexone within the parameters your doctor prescribed, there are no contraindications to taking this drug alongside alcohol.

Apart from the effects that Naltrexone causes - that could potentially deter your future drinking - it can also help you reduce your drinking behaviors. This is because taking alcohol while on this medication will not cause you to experience any pleasure or euphoria.

Although the drug can preventing you from experiencing the rewarding effects of drinking alcohol, it will not decrease any other intoxicating effects that you may experience - such as impaired coordination and judgment. This means that drinking while on it could prove to be potentially dangerous.

Some of the side effects that are linked to Naltrexone use in the course of addiction treatment include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Nervousness
  • Vomiting

According to NIDA - the National Institute on Drug Abuse - taking naltrexone can be effective in the treatment of opioid use disorders. The naltrexone drug will block the brain receptors that opioid drugs normally bind to and active. As a result, it will render these drugs incapable of causing you to feel pleasurable or euphoric.

However, you should only take naltrexone after you have been through a medically supervised program. This is because using it while opioids are in your body could cause you to suffer some severe symptoms of withdrawal.

Naltrexone is effective in the treatment of opioid abuse and addiction because it can be administered easily. It also causes minimal side effects, and does not come with any addiction risk.

Although naltrexone will block the opioid receptor activation that might occur if you take opioids, using drugs like buprenorphine will only partially activate these receptors. It is for this reason that naltrexone is an opioid antagonist while buprenorphine is a partial agonist. This means that buprenorphine will activate the opioid receptors of the brain but not at the same level as full opioid agonist like heroin.

Naltrexone is also used in the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Today, it is available in the form of an extended release injectable drug called Vivitrol that addiction treatment experts might prescribe to help with your addiction to alcohol.

When you are using Vivitrol, you will typically have to get the injection once every month. If you are on regular Naltrexone, you need to take the pill form once every day, or after every two days. This means that Vivitrol might be more effective in the long term.

6. Disulfiram

Also known as Antabuse, Disulfiram is a drug that can help you deal with any drinking behaviors. It is effective because it can elicit some unpleasant effects when you take alcohol while on this medication. As a result, Disulfiram could potentially decrease your urge to drink and desire for alcohol.

If you take disulfiram (or Antabuse) exactly as your prescription calls for, it will cause you to experience negative effects whenever you drink alcohol - even in relatively small amounts.

Disulfiram works in this way because it will block the activity of the enzymes responsible for metabolizing alcohol in your system. As a result, you will experience a buildup of the acetaldehyde chemical intermediary that could lead to adverse effects like:

  • Blurred vision
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

When you experience these uncomfortable symptoms, you may not want to continue taking alcohol again. In the future, your knowledge of how unpleasant the interactions between alcohol and disulfiram can be could potentially deter you from further alcohol use.

If you take alcohol while on Disulfiram, you will experience the following unwanted effects about 10 to 30 minutes later:

  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Flushing
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Tachycardia
  • Vertigo
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

These adverse effects will last for around 60 minutes. They are effective because they could potentially deter you from trying to drink alcohol again while you are still on Disulfiram.

However, these reactions will vary in terms of severity depending on the dose of the drug that you took, as well as on the total volume of alcohol that you consumed while on the medications.

For you to be successful while using Disulfiram, it is important that you are motivated enough to remain sober. Otherwise, there is some risk that you could become noncompliant with your treatment schedule so that you can start drinking again.

If you are highly motivated to achieve full sobriety from your substance use disorder, however, Disulfiram could prove to be one of the most useful tools in your arsenal of addiction rehabilitation and treatment.

7. Acamprosate

Also known as Campral, Acamprosate is another one of the drugs used during medication assisted treatment for alcohol use disorders. It works by maintaining the chemical balances inside the brain that were disrupted by your alcohol abuse and addiction.

The drug will also protect your brain from being overexcited when you try to withdrawal from alcohol. This is because there is a risk of overexcitement that could occur since alcohol would have disrupted your inhibitory and excitatory signaling. To this end, using Acamprosate could decrease your risk of relapse as well as promote your abstinence in the long term.

According to the CSAT - the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment - the abuse of alcohol could cause you to experience neurological adaptations in various neurotransmitter systems - including GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) and glutamate.

When your brain adapts to the presence of this substance, it will create a new equilibrium that you can only maintain when you consume alcohol and you have it present in your system.

If you suddenly stop drinking or significantly reduce your intake of this substance, this balance could tip towards the hyper-excitatory state. Even though addiction treatment professionals do not yet understand this mechanism of action, Acamprosate is a GABA analogue that could normalize your brain's balance of inhibitory and excitatory neuronal activity. By so doing, it could potentially reduce your risk of suffering post-acute alcohol withdrawals symptoms that might otherwise have caused you to relapse.

Most of these post-acute symptoms of withdrawal will extend way beyond your acute withdrawal stage. They are also known as protracted symptoms of withdrawal and they include:

  • Restlessness
  • Dysphoria (where you feel generally dissatisfied)
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

Although Acamprosate is effective at withdrawal management, it also comes with some side effects, which could include but are not always limited to:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Flatulence
  • Headache
  • Itchiness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea

Most of these side effects are mild and likely to disappear a couple of weeks after you have started taking this addiction treatment medication. However, you may also experience other adverse and serious side effects, including suicidal ideation and depression. In case this happens, it is recommended that you contact your doctor immediately.

According to SAMHSA - Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - acamprosate comes with no abuse potential. Additionally, you will not experience any negative effects when you consume alcohol while on this drug.

If you have liver damage, this medication could be the right choice for you. This is because the liver does not metabolize it, meaning that you are not at any risk of suffering further hepatic complications.

8. Suboxone

If you are enrolled in an addiction treatment program in the United States, you might also get a prescription for Suboxone. This drug is used in the treatment of prescription opioid and heroin addiction. It combines both naltrexone and buprenorphine.

Naltrexone is one of the most effective intravenous opiate antagonists available on the market today. Today it is combined with buprenorphine to make a pill that addicts are unable to take intravenously. This reduces its abuse potentially.

Suboxone is the name of this drug, and it is effective in opioid addiction treatment. When you get started on the drug, you will typically get a dose of 2 mg per day. Over time, this dose will be increased gradually until you get to the maximum allowable daily dose of 32mg. Research studies have shown that most opioid addicts will benefit from a daily dose of 8 mg - and this dosage accounts for close to 80 percent of all opioid addiction treatments.

The drug will only be prescribed after the opioids you used to abuse have been eliminated from your system. This is because the last opiate dose that you took needs to have been at least 16 to 24 hours before you get a dose of Suboxone.

9. Ritalin (Methylphenidate)

Also known as methylphenidate, Ritalin could potentially reduce your risk of continued cocaine abuse and addiction. Research studies have consistently shown that this drug could regulate the nerve pathways that tend to go out of control when you are recovering from cocaine addiction. This is even if Ritalin is a stimulant medication used in the treatment of ADHD (or attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder).

Interestingly, Ritalin is a powerful stimulant that is structurally similar to cocaine. This is because both of these substances will work to increase the dopamine levels within the human brain. However, if you take Ritalin, it will be taken up by the brain at a much slower pace than cocaine.

In a research study, cocaine addicts were given Ritalin pills while others received a placebo. From the MRI scans performed on these study participants, the brain activity among those who had received Ritalin seemed to have normalized. However, this study only relied on brain imaging. As such, it does not confirm the fact that Ritalin is effective in treating cocaine addiction.

Although there has been extensive research, it does not seem that there is any medication that can prove to be consistently effective in the treatment of this substance use disorder involving cocaine.

However, there are some promising medications - including Modafinil, tiagabine, topiramate, and Baclofen. All these drugs are GABAergic, and this is why they are typically administered to reduce the risk of relapse among cocaine addicts.

10. Benzodiazepines

If you have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder, the addiction treatment center that you check into could recommend that you take benzodiazepines. These drugs are effective at reducing the irritability and anxiety that might develop as part of your withdrawal symptoms.

Anxiety is among the common withdrawal symptoms that occur when someone stops drinking alcohol, as well as if you were addicted to opioids like heroin and other drugs such as cocaine.

Since benzodiazepines come with sedating effects, they could prove useful in dealing with alcohol withdrawal syndromes. However, doctors tend to be cautious when prescribing this class of drugs because it can prove to be addictive.

11. Antidepressants

If you do not continue taking the drugs that you were addicted to, there is a high risk that you might not be able to continue producing the happiness-inducing chemicals in your brain that you need to experience pleasure.

Since you were relying on alcohol and/or drugs to get you to feel happy, you might experience depression once you start overcoming your substance use disorder. Today, many addiction treatment programs will prescribe antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft to deal with this situation. Ideally, you will continue taking these medications until your brain renews its ability to produce the chemicals that induce happiness naturally.

12. Clonidine

This drug is typically prescribed for the treatment of the withdrawal symptoms linked to both opioid and alcohol use disorders. The drug can reduce your anxiety, muscle aches, cramps, and sweating. Additionally, it might also prove useful in stopping seizures and tremors.

How Addiction Treatment Medications Work

Many substances are addictive because of the way in which they will manipulate the reward and pleasure centers of the brain. Although the exact way in which these substances work will vary from one to the next, there are several drugs that you can take to ensure that you restore balance in the neurochemical processes that your substance abuse disrupted.

In particular, you might be required to enroll in a medication assisted treatment program. This means that you will receive prescriptions for medications that can diminish your withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. These medications could also counter the pleasurable and intoxicating effects of the drugs that you used to take. On the other hand, they may also come with off-label uses that could potentially continue supporting you in your recovery.

Some of the drugs that are typically prescribed for the management of substance use disorders, and which are effective in drug rehabilitation regimens include but are not limited to:

  • Naltrexone (Vivitrol)
  • Buprenorphine (Probuphine and Suboxone)
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)
  • Acamprosate (Campral)
  • Modafinil (Provigil).
  • Mirtazapine (Remeron)
  • Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban)
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Vigabatrin (Sabril)
  • Baclofen (Lioresal)
  • Topiramate (Topamax)

The main goal of addiction treatment is to help you overcome your substance use disorder so that you never have to take your preferred drugs or alcohol again in the future. Through such a treatment program, you may be able to remain free of drugs as well as start leading a more productive and fulfilling lifestyle.

However, there is no single or universal treatment that could work for everyone who has been prescribed with an addiction. Even so, most addiction treatment programs will involve the use of both behavioral therapies and counseling. Still, you might also receive a prescription for medications to help your rehabilitation and recovery process.

Many of the drugs that you might have been taking were addictive because of the way they manipulated your brain's pleasure centers. Over the course of time, you would have become used to these substances as your source of euphoria, excitement, and comfort.

When you get started on an addiction treatment program, you may get some medications to aid in your recovery. These medications work in various ways, including but not limited to:

a) Withdrawal Symptom Management

Some of these drugs are effective at suppressing the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal that could develop during your initial medically managed detoxification process. This process is one of the first steps that you have to take before you continue with your addiction recovery.

Today, research studies show that medications are prescribed for use in more than 80 percent of all the drug and alcohol detoxification programs in the United States. This figure goes to show just how effective these medications can be.

b) Relapse Prevention

There are also some medications that could normalize the functioning of your brain as well as decrease your cravings for your favorite substances of abuse. These drugs are effective at treatment substance use disorders involving opioids, alcohol, and tobacco.

At the moment, there are other medications are still being developed for use in preventing relapse among patients who were addicted to marijuana, methamphetamine, and cocaine.

If you are addicted to more than one substance of abuse - such as alcohol and heroin - at the same time, you will need a more intensive form of addiction treatment. Only through such a type of treatment could you start achieving sobriety from all of the substances that you were abusing.

c) Dual Diagnosis Treatment

You might also be diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder involving alcohol or drug addiction as well as another mental health or medical condition. If this happens, you may receive a prescription for medications designed to deal with co-occurring and co-existing conditions.

These medications could, for instance, prove to be useful in the treatment of your depression and anxiety as well as deal with all the negative effects and after-effects of your substance abuse and addiction.

Drug Detoxification Medications

Addiction treatment medications are among the primary treatments that you might have to undertake when you enroll in a program for help with your substance abuse and addiction.

Today, both counseling and behavioral therapies are used alongside medication assisted treatments to provide a more holistic approach in the substance recovery process. The medications that are prescribed often deal with addictions involving alcohol and opioids, as well as any drug that contains opioids.

They are effective because they could potentially normalize the chemical environment of your brain, block the pleasurable effects of the substances that you were abusing, as well as relieve your drug cravings.

Many people wrongly believe that using pharmacotherapy treatment will only substitute one substance of abuse with another. However, the truth is that medication assisted treatment could offer you a highly customized and comprehensive rehabilitation experience.

These medications have also been proved to be quite effective. They could, for instance, reduce your need to go through another medically managed detoxification program in the future.

As long as you use them at the proper doses, and under the medical supervision of your addiction treatment professionals, all of these recovery medications could improve your outcomes in treatment.

They could also ensure that you achieve a state of full recovery and sobriety by:

  • Decreasing your substance use and abuse
  • Ensuring your survival
  • Improving your outcomes, especially if you are pregnant
  • Increasing your ability to become more productive in the future
  • Increasing your compliance with the treatment program and protocols used
  • Lowering the risk that you could contract hepatitis B and C, and HIV/AIDS as a result of your substance abuse and addiction
  • Reducing your risk of future relapse
  • Treating all comorbid or co-occurring mental health issues

New Medications for Addiction

Among the biggest challenges that MAT faces is that some people end up abusing the medications that were prescribed to help treat their drug cravings. This is because there is always a high risk that you could experience such intense drug cravings that you end up abusing the treatment medications that your doctors prescribed. In case this happens, it would defeat the goal of your pharmacotherapy.

Today, there is an urgent need among addiction treatment professionals to get medications that are resistant to abuse and which can also be used to deal with drug cravings. Luckily, researchers have started uncovering some potential solutions.

Among the drugs that have been showing promising results include OMS405. Created by Omeros, this drug can reduce the anxiety and cravings that heroin addicts might suffer during their treatment. However, it only works in this way when it is taken alongside naloxone and buprenorphine.

The use of this drug also extends beyond the treatment of heroin abuse, dependence, and addiction. This is because it has also been shown to be effective at reducing the cravings experienced by patients who are addicted to cocaine. When used in this way, it is also successful at restoring the integrity of the white matter in the brain of such patients.

Although it is still in its clinical trials, there is a high chance that drugs like it could potentially pave the way to the discovery of other drugs that could be used in the field of medication assisted treatment in the context of addiction recovery.

Ongoing Treatment after Medications

Just because you have been through a medication assisted treatment program does not necessarily mean that your rehabilitation will end once you have taken your prescribed drugs. There are many other things that you need to do to ensure that your treatment program addresses all your needs and requirements for recovery.

Today, effective addiction treatment will often combine the following:

  • Evidence based behavioral therapies
  • Education
  • Relapse prevention programs
  • Medication

Taking medications could help you maintain your sobriety in the long term. At the same time, your behavioral therapies could deal with all the underlying issues linked to your substance abuse and addiction. They could also promote your positive self-image, teach you healthier coping skills, and rectify any negative behaviors, feelings, and thoughts that you may have.

It is for this reason that most medication assisted treatment methods will use this therapeutic combination to reduce your risk of relapse as well as take care of all your recovery goals.

In the long term, the use of medications in the treatment of substance use disorders could ensure that you achieve full stability and that you do not suffer too much when you stop taking your favorite substances of abuse.

However, even after these medications have been discontinued, you still need to continue working on your recovery. This is because addiction is a relapsing condition and failure to keep up with your treatments could cause you to suffer a relapse in the future.

Overall, keeping to the treatment schedule - as well as the aftercare plan - that you received during your addiction recovery program could ensure that you are able to maintain your long term recovery and sobriety.

CITATIONS

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a612022.html

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682134.html

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682602.html

https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/combine/FAQs.htm

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161102005650/en/

https://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/noras-blog/2016/05/probuphine-game-changer-in-fighting-opioid-dependence

https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/evidence-based-approaches-to-drug-addiction-treatment/pharmacotherapi-1

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK64036/

https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/buprenorphine

https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/naltrexone

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