Treating drug addiction isn’t as simple as a stop at the doctor’s or therapist’s office and medication-assisted treatment for drug addiction takes this into account. No matter how much awareness people raise about addiction, some still think that a person should “just quit using.” Anyone close to an addict or alcoholic knows it isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Those who aren’t severely addicted to drugs or alcohol may respond to ordinary treatment. After sitting down with a doctor or therapist, they may realize they’re on a dangerous path and quit using immediately. They can stop if they have a good enough reason to stop.

Addicts and alcoholics who are the real deal, though, usually won’t or can’t quit that easily. They’re often resistant to treatment, much less logical or sound reasoning.
You can’t convince an alcoholic or addict to quit drinking or using simply by talking to them. Physicians tried for years before realizing they needed another approach.

Doctors introduced medication-assisted treatment for drug addiction to add another aspect to addiction treatment. What is medication-assisted treatment and how does it help addicts in ways that other methods do not? Continue reading to learn more.

Medication-Assisted treatment

Facilities that use medication-assisted treatment for drug addiction understand the need for a well-rounded, individualized approach.

Incorporating Medication-Assisted Treatment for Drug Addiction

Medication-assisted treatment for drug addiction combines traditional counseling and behavioral therapy methods with medications. These methods of treatment offer a well-rounded approach to care and attack addiction from both sides of the coin. Addiction and alcoholism are not only a behavioral issue; after a certain point, they become a chemical issue as well.

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Treatment facilities usually use medications for two main reasons. First, they use them to manage an individual’s withdrawal symptoms during their detox period. Second, facilities incorporate medication a person’s extended treatment plan if they believe that they will help the person over a longer period of time.

Managing the Detox Process

People with extreme alcohol and drug abuse problems affect their brains and bodies at the chemical level. They eventually rely on their substance of choice both physically and mentally. When you suddenly remove that substance from their system, they experience physical and mental reactions. These reactions, or withdrawal symptoms, range from mild to severe.

The chances of relapse are extreme during the detox period because getting high relieves the symptoms. Certain medications work well to relieve or eliminate the withdrawal symptoms for some types of substances. Including these medications in their early treatment plan helps lower their chances of relapse during this difficult time.

Extended Medication Use

Some treatment facilities also use medications over a longer period of time during early sobriety. In addition to relieving withdrawal symptoms, low doses of some meds also reduce drug cravings once the detox period is over.

Medication provides a buffer for addicts and alcoholics in early recovery. They give them the chance to build up a foundation to push back against their addiction. The meds reduce the intensity of their cravings to keep their focus on their recovery and staying clean.

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Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs)

People in recovery from opioid addiction see some of the highest rates of relapse and death due to overdose among all drugs. This makes recovering opiate addicts prime candidates for medication-assisted treatment for drug addiction. Clinicians refer to opioid-specific treatment as Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs).

Some of the most common medications used in OTPs include:

  • Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone)
  • Subutex (buprenorphine)
  • Vivitrol (naltrexone)

Opioids and other opiate drugs, such as painkillers or heroin, directly impact the body’s ability to feel pain. Because of this, these drugs carry a notorious reputation for causing painful withdrawal symptoms during the detox period. After living with a reduced sense of pain for months or years, even mild discomforts feel excruciating.

The end of detox doesn’t mean the end of a person’s troubles with opiates, though. Recovering opiate addicts live with intense drug cravings. Treatment facilities often incorporate medication into their long-term care plans during their stay. The medications relieve intense cravings so they can get the most out of their time in treatment.

Is Medication-Assisted Treatment for Drug Addiction Effective?

Drug addicts and alcoholics usually experience high rates of relapse. Addiction and alcoholism are not easy conditions to overcome. Plenty of people attend a treatment facility and end up relapsing. So it makes sense to question the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment for drug addiction.

It’s important to remember that medication alone isn’t an effective way to treat addiction. The medications themselves are highly addictive and increase chances of relapse when not used as prescribed. However, when used correctly and combined with traditional methods of behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment can be beneficial.

The medications provide enough of a buffer during early sobriety to allow people to focus on their recovery. They can build a solid foundation of support to set them up and keep them going for long-term sobriety.

Medication shouldn’t be used long-term, though. While it can help support someone on the path to long-term recovery, they should wean off of it as soon as possible. Relying on medication to stay sober simply replaces drugs with another crutch. It also increases the chances of dependence on or addiction to the medication instead.

Finding a Medication-Assisted Treatment Center

Plenty of treatment centers today incorporate some level of medication-assisted treatment for drug addiction. In some cases, it’s dangerous for people to try to get clean and sober without medical intervention. Do you know someone who needs the help of medication-assisted treatment to get clean?

Call Hawaii Island Recovery today at 877-721-3556 and find out what we offer. We incorporate a well-rounded, whole approach to treatment. From traditional methods to medication to holistic therapies, there is something for everyone at our facility. Call us today to learn more!