Medication is not the focus for most patients who seek substance abuse treatment, but it can be a part of the initial stabilization process that occurs in early recovery during detox. Depending upon the drug of choice, different medications may be available and/ or appropriate for your loved one, but there are risks and considerations to keep in mind.
Everyone is different, and different circumstances may affect the efficacy of a certain medication choice, including:
- Drug of addiction
- Daily dose of that drug
- Other illicit substances abused regularly
- Medications taken for other disorders (e.g., mental health disorders, physical ailments)
- History with drug addiction treatment and detox
- Goals for recovery
Learn more about the types of medications and other therapeutic options that may be appropriate for your loved one when you contact us at the phone number listed above today.
Medications: When and Why
Most patients encounter medications as a part of substance abuse treatment during the first phase of recovery. As the body adjusts to being without the drug of choice, many patients experience physical withdrawal symptoms, and for some drugs, there have been medications developed that are clinically proven to be effective in mitigating those symptoms. Drugs like buprenorphine and methadone, for example, may be prescribed to patients who are going through heroin detox so that they can more quickly stabilize and move forward into psychotherapeutic treatment.
In some cases, it may be appropriate for patients to take medications after detox during treatment as well, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). These medications may be effective at helping patients to fight cravings for their drug of choice and to stay focused on the psychotherapeutic treatment that will help them to find a firm footing in recovery. For example, those in treatment for alcoholism may utilize medications like naltrexone, disulfiram, or acamprosate. These medications may help patients to:
- Block the brain’s reward system experience associated with drinking
- Fight cravings
- Deal with protracted detox symptoms like insomnia, restlessness, agitation, and others
- Experience a negative physical reaction (e.g., nausea, vomiting, heart palpitations, etc.) if they relapse during treatment and drink
It’s not uncommon for those who struggle with substance abuse to also need treatment for co-occurring mental health symptoms. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) reports that more than 8.9 million Americans are living with both a mental health disorder and a substance abuse issue. Because the causes and effects of both of these issues are often inextricably intertwined, it is recommended that patients choose treatment at a program that offers resources to intensively treat both disorders at the same time.
This means finding a Dual Diagnosis treatment program that offers more than just medication; it means locating a program that has the ability to provide your loved one with a range of in-depth therapeutic resources, which according to a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, might include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This action-oriented and directed therapy aids patients in identifying triggers for substance abuse and learning how to deal with those triggers through new behavior and thought patterns.
- Family therapy: Getting support at home is helpful for long-term recovery and often starts by healing old wounds and learning how to get needs met healthfully.
- Motivational Interviewing: Helping the patient to move forward based on their state of readiness and at their own pace can be a key component of an effective program.
- Motivational incentives: Positive reinforcement for hard work in recovery can help patients to stay focused even when things get difficult.
Find the Right Drug Rehab Today
You can help your loved one connect to a drug and alcohol addiction treatment program that provides them with the help they need to deal with all the obstacles to recovery – including mental health disorders or symptoms – when you contact our admissions coordinators at the phone number above. Call now.
Further Reading About Medications for Substance Abuse Treatment
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David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.