Millions of individuals are battling drug addictions every day across America. Quite often, individuals find that there is more to life beyond their damaging addictions. As a result, thousands of individuals turn to drug treatment centers as a way to get their lives back on track.
Many of these centers have different ways to help addicts overcome their addictions and go on to live happy and normal lives. Although counseling and support groups are an important part of addiction treatment, medications play a crucial part in overcoming drug dependency.
How Medications Help Treat Addictions
As an individual detox, medications are used to treat patients during various aspects of their detoxification and recovery process. These areas are:
- Withdrawal –Drug withdrawal comes with many unpleasant symptoms that addicts struggle to deal with. Not only does detox take a toll on a person mentally, but they often suffer physically as well. Individuals experience body pain, nausea, vomiting, and uncontrollable chills. Medications are often used as a remedy to lessen the negative side effects of withdrawal.
Patients take medications to help minimize withdrawal symptoms early on in drug treatment. Nearly 80% of all patients going through detoxification rely on medications for this purpose. These medications work by tricking the brain into thinking the patient is taking drugs without experiencing a high or any of the effects typical drugs cause. With heroin and other opioid addictions, medications often begin at very high doses, which are lowered as treatment goes on.
- Relapse prevent –As patients continue through treatment, they are given medications to help the brain regain normal function. Medications help cut back on cravings so a patient is less likely to relapse. Methadone or Suboxone are often given for opioid addictions, where Nicotine replacement therapy is often used for individuals addicted to tobacco. There are also three drug options commonly used for alcohol addiction, Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram, with a fourth showing promising results in clinical testing.
Aside from treating withdrawal and prevention, medication is often given to patients as a way to address mental health conditions that may have lead to the addiction. Anxiety and depression are two common reasons individuals turn to drugs as an escape from reality. It is extremely important to treat addiction by addressing the core problem as ignoring it can lead to relapse.
Using Medications to Supplement Drug Treatments
In addition to medication, patients go through behavioral treatment in order to develop a new positive outlook and build self-confidence needed to get back on the right path. There are several steps to treating addiction, and medications play a crucial role in each one. Proper dosing of medication can help a patient stop using drugs, remain drug-free, and perform as a productive member of society.
As time goes on, drug treatment facilities are actively working to develop and employ new medications, medication devices, and various other treatments to help patients as much as possible through the detoxification and recovery process.