The use of medications to treat substance abuse has become the new “biggest thing” in addiction treatment today. Have you ever wondered what drugs you can take to treat an opiate addiction? methamphetamine addiction? or alcohol addiction?
Sometimes, you even avoid quitting, simply because you don’t want to deal with the negative effects of withdrawal. Isn’t there something you can take that will ease the withdrawal symptoms?
Best Methods to Treat Substance Abuse and Addiction
Last month, the British Association for Psychopharmacology (BAP) released new guidelines on the best methods to treat substance abuse and addiction in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.
And, of course, their guidelines emphasize how medications can help with withdrawal symptoms, relapse prevention, and preventing substance use complications.
Some addiction experts envision a future in which alcoholism can be treated like depression: Patients will choose from a range of drugs to find the one that best suits them, then combine it with counseling and other behavioral therapies.
But how effective are these drug to cure alcoholism or drug use? Will they able to treat the disease of addiction?
How Effective Are Drugs in Treating Substance Abuse?
Medications have been used as part of de-addiction centers for many years. Already, researchers have found quite a few medications that make the recovery process smoother for more than just one type of addiction.
- Methadone: suppress withdrawal symptoms and relieve cravings
- Buprenorphine: suppress withdrawal symptoms and relieve cravings
- Naltrexone: blocks the effects of heroin and other opioids at their receptors sites and are used only in patients are have already been detoxified.
- Suboxone: suppresses withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings
- Nicotine replacement therapies
- Bupropion: prevents relapse
- Varenicline: prevents relapse
- Naltrexone: blocks rewarding effects of drinking, thus reducing cravings. It also reduces relapse to heavy drinking. (It can be highly effective in some patients, such as those with a family history of alcoholism.)
- Acamprosate: reduces withdrawal symptoms
- Dsulfiram: produces unpleasant reactions such as flushing and nausea when the patient drinks alcohol (effective among patients who are highly motivated)
- Topiramate: blocks rewarding effects of drinking, thus reducing cravings. It also reduces relapse to heavy drinking, as well as lowers liver enzymes and blood pressure.
- Ondansetron: reduces drinking in alcoholics with a specific genetic variant
- Just lately, topiramate has been found to help recovering methamphetamine addicts stay sober, as found by the Virginia School of Medicine. His study found that topiramate significantly decreases the chance of relapse.
Analysis: Benefits and Drawbacks
Drugs play a significant role in the recovery process in two big areas: treating withdrawal symptoms and preventing relapse.Since most people–who want to quit and can’t–drink to prevent withdrawal symptoms, taking a drug that also eases the symptoms of withdrawal can be an effective way to prevent early relapse.
Of course, finding a drug that prevents long-term relapse is also a valuable tool, just as long as it works. Because those in recovery are most likely to relapse during the first 12 to 18 months after rehab, taking a medication that encourages sobriety can positively affect the long-term outcome.
“I felt like I had found something that finally helped me through the cravings. I don’t think I could have gotten sober without it.” said Patty Hendricks, 49, who used naltrexone to help control her drinking habit after four failed rehab attempts.
While these drugs may be effective for some people, not all medications work for everyone. And at Duffy’s, the doctor can prescribe you medication to help with detox.
Combined Therapy is the Most Effective Treatment
While meds are an important facet of treatment programs, they are most effective when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies. (Abstinence and 12-step programs are not a thing of the past; they are still vital components for a successful recovery.)
No single treatment is appropriate for everyone–and at Duffy’s we recognize this. We recognize that addiction has many contributing factors, from genetics to an underlying mental disorder, so not every drug or program will work the same for everybody. This is why we offer an approach that combines drug therapy with the following to create a successful recovery experience:
- 12 Step Meetings,
- Education sessions and interactive learning,
- Extensive private counselling, and even
- Family counseling opportunities