Struggling with drug addiction is never easy for anyone involved, including the individual and their loved ones. But science has made amazing advancements in the field of medicinal treatment for drug abuse, which helps users live a clean and happy lifestyle. Here, we explain some of these advances and how they are helping those struggling with addiction.
Medicinal Treatment for Drug Abuse
You may think that it’s counterintuitive for a drug addict to treat their addiction with other drugs, but in fact, medicinal treatments, when done properly, are some of the most effective forms of rehabilitation and help relieve withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Some of the most common drugs used to treat opiate addiction include:
- Methadone – Methadone is an extremely effective medicinal treatment for opiate use because it tricks the brain into thinking it is still getting the drug. But, what it’s actually doing is helping the patient feel normal without getting high.
- Buprenorphine – Buprenorphine helps suppress and reduce cravings.
- Naltrexone – Naltrexone addresses patients who have relapsed because it blocks the “feel good” effect of the drug and the high associated with it.
- Disulfiram – Disulfiram is a medication that treats chronic alcoholism.
- Acamprosate – Acamprosate helps patients in recovery who have already stopped drinking alcohol and want to avoid drinking, as it works to prevent people from drinking alcohol.
- Naltrexone – Naltrexone blocks the euphoric effects and feelings of intoxication, therefore helping deter alcohol dependency.
All of these medicinal treatments are administered by trained healthcare professionals and those certified through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. They are also used for a longer term through medically-assisted therapy.
What is Medically-Assisted Therapy?
Medically-assisted therapy, or MAT, is a safe and controlled way to use medicine to address drug abuse. When combined with treatment, therapy and other interventions, medication-assisted therapy can be effective in overcoming addiction. It has also been shown that MAT has no adverse effects on a patient’s brain chemistry or physical functions. In fact, it has a number of benefits, including:
- Controlled withdrawal symptoms, which can lead to an early recovery
- Can reverse overdoses (methadone is commonly administered by police officers and EMTs at the site of an overdose emergency)
- Allows patients to slowly wean off drugs, as opposed to cutting them out “cold turkey.” This approach increases the odds of the addict continuing with drug treatment.
- Improved patient survival
- Increased treatment retention
- Can reduce the chance of relapse
In 2013, an estimated 1.8 million people had an opioid use disorder related to prescription pain relievers, and about 517,000 had an opioid use disorder related to heroin use. To reduce this number, more facilities embraced MAT, which significantly reduced the need for detox services. This approach provides a comprehensive program of both medicinal and behavioral therapy tailored to each individual patient. We have seen amazing advancements in the MAT and medicinal treatment industries and continue to see them grow.