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Should Addiction Medication Be Part of My Treatment Plan?

Your road to recovery begins with some rough patches as you try to kick a drug habit. It’s much easier to continue down a destructive pathway than to face a difficult hill to sobriety. Both the physical and mental habits of relying on drugs are challenging to face, creating a large user population who simply relapses back into unhealthy lifestyles.

To cope with withdrawal and other recovery issues, addiction medication is often the answer. This treatment plan isn’t a long-term type, and is only used strategically by highly trained administrators. If you’re curious about this specialized medication and whether it’s right for you, it’s important to understand the limits and specific uses of this practice throughout various treatment plans.

What Is Addiction Medication?

There are several key medications that work specifically on the brain to reduce drug cravings. The concept behind addiction medication is blocking brain receptors from producing those euphoric feelings felt during drug use. If the user cannot feel those highs, she’s less inclined to take the drug at all. Other treatment medications might produce negative effects on the user, such as nausea, if she takes an illegal drug during treatment. Treatment administrators try to match the right medication to the substance abuser for the best results.

Generally, these medications curb withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal isn’t just a mental craving, but can also affect the body physically. Increased blood pressure and heart rate and excessive sweating are just a few symptoms experienced if a person quits drugs without any treatment medication. If a person has any medical issues, including cardiovascular problems, withdrawal symptoms can actually harm the user. Treatment administrators take both physical and mental withdrawal symptoms into consideration when deciding on an addiction drug. From bupropion to naltrexone, these medications are developed to calm the mind and body while allowing harmful substances to move out of a user’s system for good.

When a substance abuser is trying to fight multiple drug addictions, such as alcohol and heroin, the withdrawal symptoms are multiplied in force. These abusers may not have a strong chance at sobriety without treatment medications. The withdrawal symptoms would simply be too powerful to cope with because of their severity. Cravings lasting days can break down the willpower of users who are coping with multiple problems. Treatment medication reduces the strain on users’ bodies so they can concentrate on the main goal: sobriety.

Treatment medications aren’t solutions to substance abuse, however, but actually form a base for future sobriety. Medication is only used in the initial withdrawal stages. Users cannot rely on these medications for long-term periods. They must move on to behavioral counseling as they continue through the treatment process. There are mental triggers and reasons why users search out certain substances. When they understand their needs, they can alter poor habits for future sobriety success. Fighting against substance abuse will always be a daily challenge, but it does get easier as the mind and body work together in a logical fashion using treatment medication and counseling as starting points.

Treatment medications cannot be purchased at any drugstore because they’re only administered by professionals. Medication type, quantity and time period must be determined and set for each unique substance abuser. Every person will have a varying treatment plan based on drug abuse past, physiology and even genetic background. When treatment is personalized, there’s a higher chance for success in the near future.

How Does Addiction Medication Improve the Chances for Recovery?

There’s no magical cocktail to bring users back into sobriety, and addiction medications shouldn’t be treated as such. However, they do dramatically alter users’ abilities to reach a sober level. Withdrawal periods used to be fraught with extremely difficult times, from physical shakes to mental anguish. With the help of specialized medications, substance abusers have an easier time with initial drug cessation.

Depending on the substance abuser’s past, the concept of normal may be foreign. Being high all of the time creates an alternative reality for the person, so sober “normal” isn’t even recognized. Treatment medication brings the person slowly down to a normal lifestyle of no drugs and healthy habits. Treatment personnel must be present during this period to guide the user through these uncharted waters. The person may feel frightened or bewildered, for instance, because of her newly perceived surroundings. Reducing fear and explaining the sober lifestyle helps the user find her way to a better life.

Pain in any form is extremely taxing on the mind and body. If a user suffers from chronic pain during initial recovery stages, relapse is a real possibility. She’ll simply want to comfort that pain with the only product known to take it away: her drug of choice. Many treatment medications, however, reduce pain intensity temporarily. The body can reach that true normal without the extra pain and stress. Treatment professionals may even ask the user to gauge her pain level when withdrawal symptoms start, giving them a glimpse of stress levels and possible resolutions.

Craving drugs on a physical level is much easier to treat compared to psychological needs. Treatment medications curb those physical cravings. The user will feel relatively satisfied on a physiological level with the medications, allowing her to concentrate completely on her psychological needs. Drugs may have pacified pain, grief or other emotional issues in the user’s life. The user can begin to dive into her emotions to satisfy those mental needs in a healthy manner. When one can control mental and physical cravings without treatment medications or frequent in-house counseling, the individual has achieved sobriety successfully.

Improving the chances at recovery is a major part of treatment medication use because there’s no risk of getting high. Unlike older medications with some narcotic effects, today’s addiction drugs have built-in ceilings. Even if users take too much treatment medication on purpose, they can’t achieve the desired high standard illegal drugs would provide. Because the potential high is taken out of the equation, recovery is much more streamlined. Treatment professionals must still administer the medications, but the user will notice less dependence on them as she graduates further into the recovery process. At some designated point, she’ll be completely free from any drug use and moving on to a healthier lifestyle.

Types of Addiction Medications and the Substances They Replace

The medical world is constantly searching for the next best medication to ease recovery processes. Goals with any addiction medicine includes minimal addictive qualities, low dosage rates and pain relief. Early addiction treatments created new problems with dependency on the treatment drugs. Today’s drug innovations are vast and specialized for the particular dependency involved.

Naltrexone is a common treatment option for both opiates and alcohol abuse. Although these two substances are entirely different in their molecular structures, they both bind with receptors in the body to generate the desired high. When recovering addicts take naltrexone, they’re ingesting a blocker mechanism. This medication attaches to waiting receptor areas, blocking any incoming molecules from connecting into the same space. If any substances are taken during treatment, the user won’t feel the desired high. This negative reinforcement slowly weans the person off of the abused substance and into a sober state.

Another treatment medication is Suboxone. This medication is a combination of naltrexone and buprenorphine. Suboxone treats opiate addictions, such as to heroin and opium. Aside from naltrexone’s blocking mechanism, the buprenorphine offers another benefit for strong recovery. Suboxone molecules become stuck around body receptors for about 24 hours, which provides pain relief and comfort from no drug cravings. Any relapses backfire because the high cannot be achieved. With no available receptors, illicit drug use is futile and unsatisfying.

Varenicline and bupropion are two approved addiction treatments meant for tobacco use. Although patches are still a viable option, severely addicted users simply need another way to curb those cravings. Each medication type provides a different molecular action within the body to stop physical cravings. Treatment professionals might need to try different quantities of each drug to find the best fit for each patient. It’s important to note that cognitive or mental cravings aren’t addressed with these tobacco treatment medications. One must work with counselors and in group sessions to deal with the mental side of addiction while curbing physical cravings using addiction medications.

An alternative alcoholism treatment is disulfiram. This medication doesn’t work on body receptors, but rather impedes proper alcohol digestion. When users drink alcohol normally, the liver and digestive systems work together to extract certain molecules for safe waste disposal. However, disulfiram doesn’t allow the alcohol to be digested properly. The user will feel sick to her stomach if she drinks while under addiction treatment. Negative reinforcement associated with excessive alcohol consumption makes the person want to kick the habit because the alternative is too painful to accept. There are other alcohol treatment options, but disulfiram is a strong jump-start for a newly sober person.

Are Addiction Medications Addictive?

It’s understandable to be concerned about trading one drug for another during sobriety attempts. On a logical level, it appears to be more of a sidestep than a positive forward movement toward a healthier life. However, today’s innovative addiction medications aren’t addictive. Although users may have heard about methadone addiction in the past, using medications like Suboxone is safe as long as professionals are administering and monitoring the dosages.

Addiction treatment medications aren’t addictive because of their molecular compositions. For most medications, taking more of one substance doubles or triples a person’s sensation level. Addiction medicines today have clever maximum limits, however. A person could take the drug excessively to feel some extra effects, but the same outcome will simply be receptor blockage. Because the user fails to receive the desired high, she immediately shuns the drug and avoids any potential addiction.

Every treatment program is designed for each individual, making medication prescriptions widely varied. Users who show rapid strides toward sobriety may only need medications for six months, for instance. Most treatment professionals use the one-year mark as a maximum time limit for administering addiction medicine. After 12 months, the mind and body should be strong enough to face sobriety without body chemistry alterations. Counseling is a necessary an ongoing process, however, allowing individuals to talk about their struggles and find comfort in others with similar situations. Continuing with professional and group counseling to maintain sobriety becomes an easier road through the years.

Another way treatment professionals avoid possible mental or physical addiction to a treatment drug is specialized administration. Instead of sending patients home with a prescription to take on a daily basis, professionals offer an injection that can last about a month. Participants don’t have to worry about taking a daily pill or feeling tempted to take extra medication for a possible high. These injections give the individual some freedom to balance both recovery processes and real life. Addiction can be fought with the help of professionals and controlled medication administration. Without pills sitting around the home, recovering addicts can concentrate on staying clean and enjoying life.

Contact the hotline today at 844-806-6511. Helpful associates are ready to guide the way to a healthier lifestyle. Regardless of your drug use past, it’s possible to come clean and lead a sober life. Addiction medication can be a helpful crutch in the beginning recovery stages to reduce cravings and reform your mind, allowing you to concentrate on the finer things in life. Family and friends are just a few motivators to turn your life around. Allow specialized medications to help you feel and live better for the long-term.


Our articles are written by individuals who have seen addiction up close. They may have watched addiction take a toll on someone they loved or had their own battles with substances, and they write for us to spare others some of that pain and confusion. If you find these writings useful and would like to speak to someone who gets addiction, call us at (844) 826-1700.

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