Medication can be defined as a substance that is used to treat people that have a medical problem. Medication plays a important role in the recovery process for many individuals struggling with addiction. Medication, in the sphere of addiction recovery, refers to the prescribed drugs used to help individuals manage withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and support their overall treatment. These medications are often used in combination with therapy and counselling, forming a comprehensive approach to address addiction.
The use of medication in addiction treatment is not a recent development. In fact, certain medications have been used for decades to aid individuals in their recovery process. For instance, medications like methadone and buprenorphine have been effective in treating opioid addiction. They work by binding to the same receptors in the brain that opioids do, thus reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a common approach particularly for opioid and alcohol addiction. MAT combines medication with therapy and counselling to provide a holistic approach tailored to each individual’s needs.
Medications Before, During and After Detox
People often require medical assistance during detox and withdrawal because drugs and alcohol rewire the brain’s risk and reward pathways, leading to dependency. When someone addicted stops using these substances, they can experience intense and distressing withdrawal symptoms as the body tries to detoxify and return to equilibrium. Medications are important in treating addiction as they can alleviate withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, or counteract drug highs. These medications help restore the body’s balance and reduce the likelihood of relapse or dangerous conditions like delirium tremens, a potentially life-threatening seizure disorder associated with alcohol withdrawal. Common medications used in addiction treatment include Naltrexone, Buprenorphine, Methadone, Disulfiram, Acamprosate, Modafinil, Bupropion, Gabapentin, Mirtazapine, Topiramate, Baclofen, and Vigabatrin. Knowing that medications can ease the detox process can encourage individuals to seek treatment for drug abuse and addiction.
During detox, over-the-counter medications can be valuable for managing common symptoms like nausea, constipation, vomiting, and headaches. These are often used alongside prescribed treatments to alleviate a wide range of withdrawal symptoms. For more severe cases, prescription-strength medications, such as Zofran for nausea, might be necessary. It’s important to discuss available medication options at the beginning of the detox process to ensure maximum comfort and effective symptom management throughout the withdrawal period.
After detox, medication management often extends beyond the initial weeks, especially in treating Alcohol Use Disorders (AUDs). This is fundamental for navigating post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), which can last from 6 months to 2 years. Acamprosate (Campral) is commonly prescribed post-detox to alleviate emotional and physical distress in early recovery from AUD. It helps reduce alcohol cravings and urges, but requires complete alcohol abstinence to start. Disulfiram (Antabuse) is another medication used to discourage alcohol consumption by causing unpleasant symptoms like nausea and headaches upon alcohol intake. While effective as a deterrent under supervision, its daily administration requirement can be a challenge for consistent adherence, making it less effective for some without regular external accountability. These medications play a significant role in reducing relapse risks and managing symptoms in the recovery process.
Prescribed Medication Addiction Treatment
Prescription drug addiction is an often-underrecognized substance addiction globally. Despite being prescribed for legitimate medical reasons, many prescription medications carry a high risk of addiction. People can unknowingly start abusing these drugs, with addiction beginning in teenage years or later in life. The primary classes of abused prescription drugs are:
- Opioids (like Vicodin / OxyContin), which account for about 75% of overdose-related deaths, according to The South African Depression and Anxiety Group. These painkillers are highly addictive and pose significant risks.
- Central Nervous System (CNS) Depressants (such as Valium / Ambien), which are tranquilizers abused for their numbing effect. Long-term abuse can lead to depression, insomnia, organ damage, seizures, and an increased risk of overdose and suicide.
- Stimulants (like Concerta / Ritalin), used for attention deficit disorders but often abused for enhanced intellectual performance or attentiveness. Chronic abuse of these can cause loss of appetite, insomnia, heart attacks, seizures, and strokes.
To minimize the risk of prescription drug misuse, it’s essential to adhere strictly to the prescribed dosage and consult your doctor before making any changes. Understanding your medication, including its expected effects and potential side effects, is crucial. Always use only your prescribed medication and avoid using someone else’s, even if you have similar health issues. Open communication with your doctor about your symptoms and any other medications you’re taking is vital to ensure you’re prescribed the most suitable medication. Additionally, it’s important to restrict access to prescriptions, particularly for children and teens. If your child is on medication, they should understand the importance of not sharing it with others and only taking it under your supervision. Discussing the dangers of medication misuse with them is also important for their safety.
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An opiate rehab treatment program is likely to be the most successful way to treat addiction to heroin.
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Founded in 2008, WeDoRecover has evolved from an advisory service for addiction treatment into a comprehensive provider of care, following its 2019 merger with Changes Addiction Rehab in Johannesburg. Specializing in connecting patients to top-tier addiction treatment centers in the UK, South Africa, and Thailand, WeDoRecover supports individuals globally, including those from the United Arab Emirates and Europe. Accepting both South African medical aid and international health insurance, the organization facilitates access to high-quality treatment for substance and alcohol use disorders, offering individualized care that addresses the physical, mental, and social needs of patients.
Our team, led by Gareth Carter, offers empathetic and professional support, guiding you through every step of the treatment process. Whether you're in South Africa or abroad, our acceptance of various insurance plans makes quality care accessible, providing a platform for lasting recovery and a healthier future.
Finding the right rehab close to you is simple with WeDoRecover. Our network includes the finest rehab centers, ensuring personalised, quality care for your recovery needs. Let Gareth Carter and our empathetic team help guide you to a center that feels right for you, offering expert care and support. Start your healing today by choosing a rehab that's not just close to you, but also that truly cares about your loved ones recovery.