Substance abuse is a chronic disorder characterized by obsessive or irrepressible quest for seeking drugs and using them regardless of their detrimental outcomes. These substances may cause permanent brain modifications resulting in destructive behavioral patterns observed in people abusing drugs.
Though one starts using drugs voluntarily, over time their resolve to not indulge in drugs gets weakened due to the brain changes that take place with constant use. Drug seeking and consumption becomes a compulsive act, stemming from the constant drug exposure. The parts of the brain affected by addiction include learning and memory, reward and motivation, and control over conduct. Addiction is a disorder which affects both the behavior and the brain.
Treatment for a substance use disorder (SUD) is feasible, however, complicated. This is because with long-term substance use, an addiction sets in making it exceedingly difficult for a person to stop using and embrace sobriety. An effective substance use disorder treatment program would comprise of medicines to help control the cravings and the withdrawal symptoms, detox to get rid of the accumulated toxins, counselling to help an individual identify and reverse destructive thought processes, and alternative therapies to provide a constructive medium to a person to vent their negative feelings thereby avoiding a relapse.
Addiction is a relapsing disorder, necessitating repeated or long-lasting care to help people stop using and recover completely. An effective addiction treatment program enables a person to stop using, encourages them to stay drug-free, and smoothens their rehabilitation at work, within the family, and in society.
Medications are primarily used for the management of withdrawal symptoms and prevention of a relapse in both addiction and dual-diagnosis treatment.
Managing withdrawal symptoms during a detoxification process can get challenging and this is where medication come in handy. Detoxification is the preliminary step in any addiction treatment process as it has been demonstrated that patients who do not seek any treatment subsequent to a detox process relapse often. A 2014 study conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found that treatment facilities used medicinal agents in nearly 80 percent of the detox processes. Correspondingly, in May 2018, lofexidine, a non-opioid medication intended to ease the withdrawal symptoms of opioids, received FDA approval.
Medications play a key role in preventing a relapse. These can be used to recalibrate brain function and also alleviate cravings which are the main precursor for a relapse. As of now, addiction treatment medicines are available for addiction to alcohol, tobacco (nicotine), and opioids (prescription painkillers and heroin). Research is in progress for treating addiction to marijuana (cannabis) and stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine. People who indulge in polysubstance use need treatment for all the substances they abuse.
Medicines used for the management of addiction to opioids are buprenorphine, methadone, naltrexone, and lofexidine:
In spite of the availability of different kinds of medications, long-term treatment with methadone, buprenorphine, or extended-release naltrexone remain the most effective treatments for dealing with opioid withdrawal symptoms. However, lofexidine might be an important option for individuals undergoing withdrawal and who are set on starting with extended-release naltrexone.
Till date, three medications have received an approval from the FDA for managing alcohol addiction. Topiramate, the fourth drug, might also receive an approval as it has shown promising outcomes in large human scale studies. Nevertheless, the already approved medications are:
There are multiple ways to address an addiction, and each case is different. The best approach is the one which is personalized to the specific needs of the patient with a clear goal in mind. Enrolling in the appropriate drug treatment program begins with that first interaction or a call. During that call, our admission counselors may conduct a short pre-assessment by asking a number of questions pertaining to one’s substance abuse to find the best suited treatment program for an individual.
If you or a loved one is looking for drug addiction help, get in touch with the Invictus Health Group. We can connect you with our network of facilities that offer evidence-based detox programs and treatment options for substance abuse. For more information about addiction treatment programs, call our 24/7 helpline 866-548-0190 and speak with a representative. You can also chat online with a representative for further assistance.