There are many types of medications that can be used to ease the withdrawal process of opioid and alcohol addiction.The withdrawal symptoms associated with these two types of substance abuse can be painful or deadly. For many, withdrawal from these substances should be done in a medically-supervised environment. The use of medication to manage withdrawal symptoms can help people overcome what is often the most difficult part of recovery and can set the stage for success later down the road.
Medication-Assisted Treatment: Helping with Withdrawl and Recovery
The process of recovering from addiction can be difficult. Depending on a person’s experiences, the types of substances used, and other varying factors, recovery can be filled with pitfalls and successes. Early recovery can be especially difficult. Withdrawal symptoms and detox are two of the hardest components of recovery to deal with. While cravings and withdrawal symptoms are a normal component of treatment, in many cases, they can interfere with the success of recovery. While some cravings can be managed on their own, others can be painful, and in some cases, deadly. Medication-assisted treatment is a way to help people through early recovery reduce the risk of relapse and experience a more comfortable detox process.
Types of Medications
There are numerous medications that may be used in recovery. Depending on the type of addiction and the severity of withdrawal symptoms, different medications can provide varying benefits. Some of the most commonly prescribed medications include:
This medication is used in the treatment of opioid addiction and is unique in the way it is used. Much like other medications, Vivitrol blocks the effects of opioids; however, the medication is only used once a month. It is a prescription injectable medication, making it different from other medications more commonly used in opioid addiction treatment. Vivitrol must be taken once opioid detox is complete, which does not make it ideal for those in initial recovery. Like other opioid addiction treatment medications, it is extremely effective, but it can put a person at an increased risk for overdose should they relapse. After using this medication, people may find they have decreased tolerance, making risk of use much higher.
Methadone works similarly to Vivitrol in that it blocks the effects of opioids. It is also effective in reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Methadone is taken once a day and is more easily available than other medications. While it does not produce the same high as opioids, there is potential for abuse associated with Methadone. Some may use the medication to achieve effects such as sedation, relaxation, feelings of euphoria, and reduction of anxiety. Those who use Methadone to recover from opioid addiction may also have to go through a withdrawal process from the medication itself. However, methadone’s withdrawal symptoms are not nearly as severe as those experienced while withdrawing from opioids.
Narcan, also known as Naloxone, is a medication used in opioid addiction treatment. The medication can block or reverse the effects of opioids, and is even used to treat an overdose in emergency situations. Narcan can be delivered by injecting it into the muscle, through an IV, or via a nasal spray. This medication only works if a person has opioids in their system. Unlike other medications used in opioid treatment, this medication is specifically designed to counter the effects of an overdose, rather than manage the withdrawal symptoms associated with detox.
Antabuse, also known as Disulfiram, is a medication used in treatment of alcoholism. The medication works by preventing the liver from breaking down acetaldehyde, a substance the body produces when alcohol is consumed. A build-up of acetaldehyde can produce negative physical reactions. Within 10 minutes of consuming alcohol, a person may experience side effects such as vomiting and other symptoms of illness. Antabuse can stay in the body for weeks after it is used, meaning that any time a person consumes alcohol, they will experience those side effects. The side effects are so unpleasant that a person begins to lose interest in drinking, making it an effective deterrent.
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