HOW DO DRUG MEDICATIONS WORK?
- June 8, 2018
The medical world is constantly expanding and advancing, and with that comes new types of medications. For drug treatment addiction, the catalog is vast. People who are addicted to drugs can be offered both specific medications to treat the substance abuse and a variety of other medicines that are distributed for other reason. This opens the door to a multitude of different medication options.
An example of this is baclofen, a drug whose original purpose was to treat multiple sclerosis. However, it was also discovered to be effective in treating opioid addictions as well. A 2011 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology showed that the drug gabapentin, an anti-seizure medication, could be used to help treat opioid withdrawal symptoms. As these prove, there isn’t just one type of drug applicable to addiction treatment but a whole variety of medications that can be utilized.
Of course, that variety of medications are needed for a variety of different addiction problems. Each drug interacts with the brain in its own unique way, which means that different types of medications need to be used to treat the individual symptoms. Here are some examples of some major addictive drugs:
Withdrawal Symptoms: Your body becomes dependent on the chemicals that opioids provide, so the withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly intense and may cause death if not monitored by medical professionals properly. These withdrawal effects can include a variety of both gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea alongside a variety of mental symptoms like fatigue, depression, sweating, and cravings.
Medications: The most well-known medication for treating opioid addictions is methadone. Mainly used for heroin addiction, this medication has become infamous for its own incredibly addictive properties, as it simulates the heroin chemical reaction in a far slower manner in an attempt to safely wean addicts off.
Other medications like naltrexone prevent opioids from acting within the brain. However, there are still concerns with possible relapses following the use of the medication.
For heroin, in particular, a mixture of two medications of the latter type called Suboxone has been described as a possible miracle worker for the heroin epidemic
Withdrawal Symptoms: Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol include headaches, sweating, heart palpitations, nausea, restlessness, and anxiety, among other things. These symptoms can last for weeks, making alcohol incredibly tough to kick.
Medications: Medications work slightly differently for alcohol. Instead of weaning a person off of the addiction, these drugs are mostly meant to keep a person away from drinking altogether.
This is mainly done by either causing the body to react negatively to alcohol intake or by reducing cravings for alcohol. Since alcohol is so prevalent in the world, doctors will prescribe medications such as disulfiram that cause people’s bodies to react negatively to alcohol.
With this in mind, people who are on these medications won’t have the desire to drink in order to satisfy a craving because of the knowledge of the nasty side effects that would come with it. On the other hand, other meds like acamprosate reduce cravings by restoring some of the chemical imbalances that the alcohol abuse may have caused.
Withdrawal Symptoms: Cocaine is particularly addictive, so cravings are some of the toughest things to get through when detoxing. Other symptoms include fatigue, an inability to concentrate, an inability to feel pleasure, chills, tremors, and muscle aches.
Medications: There are no known medications that directly treat cocaine addiction. However, drugs like the previously mentioned gabapentin help promote the activity of specific neurotransmitters to curb the sadness and lack of pleasure caused by the sudden loss of dopamine.
Other drugs like modafinil may be prescribed to help with sleep, while topiramate helps calm down the central nervous system where the cocaine takes its effect.
While there is still much more to be discovered and engineered in the world of drug addiction treatment, there is still plenty of great medications out there that can be an addict’s lifesaver.
No matter the addiction and the treatment method, having a trained professional at your side can mean the difference between relapsing and true recovery. The team at Asana Recovery are ready to help you on your journey to a healthy and happy future.