The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines addiction as “a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence.” An individual struggling with addiction will prioritize satisfying his or her cravings (e.g., drugs, sex, gambling, etc.) above all else, which can wreak havoc in every facet of one’s life. Experts assert that medications, or pharmacological agents, used in the treatment of addictive disorders have “three broad objectives: management of acute withdrawal syndromes through detoxification, attenuation of cravings and urges to use illicit drugs (initial recovery), and prevention of relapse to compulsive drug use.” As such, there are different kinds of medications used during different parts of the recovery process:
- Detox: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains detox as “a set of interventions aimed at managing acute intoxication and withdrawal. It denotes a clearing of toxins from the body of the patient who is acutely intoxicated and/ or dependent on substances of abuse.” Examples of common medications prescribed during detox include:
- Antidepressants: such as Zoloft and Prozac, to reduce anxiety
- Clonidine: primarily used to treat withdrawal symptoms from opiate and/ or alcohol withdrawal symptoms
- Benzodiazepines: can help to decrease anxiety and irritability
- Suboxone: used to moderate severe opiate addictions in people sixteen years old and older
- Medication-assisted treatment (MAT): MAT is the use of medication in combination with various behavioral therapies to make up a treatment plan for addiction. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, assert that medication-assisted treatment is an effective method of treatment for individuals struggling with opioid abuse and/ or opioid use disorders (OUD). The two most common medications prescribed as a component of medication-assisted treatment are Methadone and Suboxone.
- Relapse prevention: Relapse is defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), “as the recurrence of behavioral or other substantive indicators of active disease after a period of remission.” According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), 40% to 60% of people relapse after drug treatment. Commonly used medications prescribed to help individuals avoid relapse include:
- Acamprosate: clinical results found that Acamprosate proved to be a safe and effective aid in treating alcohol-dependent patients and in maintaining the abstinence of patients for 2 years.
- Disulfiram: is one of three drugs approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to treat alcohol dependence.
- Naltrexone: is a medication used to help prevent alcohol relapse by reducing cravings.
- Methadone: Some studies have shown methadone to be the most effective treatment for opioid dependence as it has demonstrated a lower rate of relapse compared with buprenorphine.
Addiction is not developed instantaneously, nor does one’s recovery occur immediately. Everyone is different and will require a customized recovery plan that is developed to incorporate the best possible treatment methods that are specifically geared to address each person’s nuanced needs.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org