Addiction treatment plans are personalized to suit individual needs.
In some cases, this may include the use of prescription medication to treat withdrawal symptoms, stabilize mood, and promote a solid foundation for recovery.
Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Medication assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction helps reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and control cravings. MAT typically involves the use of three different drugs:
- Methadone (sold under various brand names, including Dolophine) to block the receptors in the brain that are affected by opioids–thus reducing or eliminating cravings and withdrawal symptoms
- Buprenorphine (sold under the brand names Suboxone and Subutex) to aid in detoxification and as opioid replacement therapy
- Extended release naltrexone (sold under the brand name Vivitrol) to block the intoxicating effects of opioids
Doses and duration of treatment are decided on a case-by-case basis. Some people use the medication to establish a foundation for recovery, then taper off their usage as they become more comfortable in their sobriety. Others take the medication on a long-term basis.
Medication Assisted Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
People seeking treatment for alcohol abuse face special challenges since alcohol is legal and widely available for adults over age 21. MAT for alcohol addiction typically involves the use of medications that discourage the use of alcohol.
Disulfiram (brand name Antabuse) produces unpleasant effects such as nausea, headache, and vomiting when a person taking the drug drinks alcohol. It is considered most effective for people who have already gone through detoxification or are in the initial stage of abstinence.
Acamprosate (brand name Campral) works by stabilizing the chemical signaling in the brain that would otherwise be disrupted by alcohol withdrawal. It helps prevent people from drinking, but does not prevent withdrawal symptoms after consuming alcohol. It is normally prescribed on the fifth day of abstinence.
Naltrexone (brand names Vivitrol or Revia) blocks the euphoric effects and feelings of intoxication. This prevents an individual from gaining any psychological benefit from drinking.
Benzodiazepines to Address Anxiety Related to Withdrawal
Benzodiazepines, often simply called benzos, slow down the central nervous system, which makes them useful in addressing the efforts of alcohol withdrawal. Diazepam (brand name Valium) and chlordiazepoxide (brand name Librium) are the two types of benzos most often used in alcohol detox programs.
Due to their ability to counteract anxiety, benzos can also be used to manage cocaine or stimulant withdrawal. However, benzos should only be used on a short-term basis due to their potential for abuse.
Antidepressants to Stabilize Mood Disorders
Depression is a type of mental health disorder that creates a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest in pleasurable or fun activities. People who are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol often began their substance abuse as a way to manage the symptoms of depression. Antidepressant medications, along with therapy, can help these individuals stabilize their moods without the use of addictive substances.
For those who are also interested in quitting smoking, the antidepressants bupropion (brand name Wellbutrin) and nortriptyline (sold under the brand names Pamelor and Aventyl) may have the added benefit of treating nicotine addiction. Bupropion has been FDA approved for smoking cessation, while nortriptyline is used off label for this purpose.
Preventing Substitute Addiction
A substitute addiction occurs when someone seeking treatment for one addiction develops an addiction to another substance or process. Some of the medications used in drug and alcohol addiction recovery have the potential to become addictive if they are not used as directed. However, St. Joseph Institute for Addiction provides careful monitoring throughout the treatment process to give clients the support they need to stay on track with their recovery.
There’s No Quick Fix
Although medications can play a vital role in treating drug and alcohol addiction, they aren’t a quick fix or a short cut to recovery. A comprehensive addiction treatment plan includes intensive counseling to address the underlying issues contributing to substance abuse and cognitive behavioral therapy to promote the development of positive coping mechanisms.
St. Joseph Institute for Addiction provides a full continuum of care for people with drug or alcohol addiction. Clients receive the support they need to become confident in their sobriety, including relapse prevention and aftercare services. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, we’re here to help.