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.
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.
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.
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 issues. To get started on the road to recovery, or if you have questions about helping yourself or a loved one, contact our Illinois rehab at 630-402-0144.