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The Role Of Medication In Addiction Treatment

medication in addiction treatment

Addiction can be challenging to overcome because substance abuse can create brain changes that lead to overpowering cravings to use substances. Effective treatment includes counseling, therapy, support groups, medication (when appropriate), lifestyle changes, and the development of healthy coping mechanisms.

The use of medication as part of a comprehensive treatment plan is known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT). The FDA has approved several different medications to treat alcohol use disorders (AUD) and opioid use disorders (OUD). The role of medication in addiction recovery serves several important functions:

Detox and Withdrawal Management

For substances such as opioids and alcohol, withdrawal symptoms during detox can be severe and challenging to manage without medical intervention. Medications can help alleviate withdrawal symptoms, making detox safer and more comfortable.

Methadone, buprenorphine and benzodiazepines are widely used to manage commonly occuring withdrawal to reduce symptoms like anxiety and irritability.

Craving Reduction

Medications can reduce cravings for drugs or alcohol, which can be a significant trigger for relapse. By reducing the urge to use substances, individuals in recovery may find it easier to stay sober.

Harm Reduction

In some cases, medication can be used as a harm reduction strategy. For instance, in cases of severe alcohol use disorder, a medication like acamprosate can help individuals reduce alcohol consumption and the associated harm, even if complete abstinence has not yet been accomplished.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Many individuals with substance use disorders also have co-occurring mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. Medications that address these issues can be an important part of treatment, improving overall well-being and reducing the risk of relapse.

Long-Term Maintenance

Some individuals may benefit from long-term maintenance medications to support recovery. For example, methadone and buprenorphine can be used as long-term maintenance for opioid use disorder to help individuals stabilize their lives and reduce the risk of relapse.

Reducing Overdose Risk

Certain medications, such as naloxone (more commonly known as Narcan), can be used to reverse opioid overdoses. These medications are often provided to individuals at risk of overdose and to their loved ones as a safety measure.

It's important to note that medication alone is not a cure for addiction. The goal of medication-assisted treatment is to improve the chances of successful, sustained recovery and to enhance the overall quality of life for individuals with substance use disorders.

Getting Help For Addiction

While addiction recovery can be challenging, it is achievable with the right resources and support. If you or somebody in your life seems to have an issue with alcohol or drugs, or is suffering from addiction, professional help may be the best option for recovery.

At Care Addiction Center, we offer treatment plans that address every facet of your addiction, serving individuals in Geneva, Batavia, Sycamore, St. Charles, and Kane County, with online addiction treatment available anywhere in Illinois. 

To get started on the road to recovery, or if you have questions about helping yourself or a loved one, call us today or schedule a confidential assessment online and begin treatment.


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