Aug 23


Tags: Pharmacotherapies,Substance Abuse Treatment,Addiction,Methadone Maintenance Treatment,Opioid Addiction Treatment,Heroin Addiction,Treatment,Suboxone Treatment,Alcohol Abuse Treatment

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Pharmacotherapies are the use of medications as treatment for a disease. Addiction is a chronic relapsing disease that causes the individual to compulsively seek and use drugs or alcohol no matter what the consequences are. No matter how bad their life has gotten, no matter how their overall health has become, and no matter what the legal consequences are, when an individual is addicted they're unable to stop. Over time when a person uses drugs their brain chemistry and structure changes and they experience intense compulsive impulses to use more of the drug. Many times when treating substance abuse and addiction medications can be administered to help control and decrease these uncontrollable urges and manage withdrawal symptoms that are associated with their addiction.

Medications are extremely helpful and beneficial for individuals working toward recovery form many drug addictions. When combined with Behavioral Therapy relapse can be prevented, abstinence can be maintained, and recovery can be achieved. Pharmacotherapies are much more affective when combined with behavioral therapy when it comes to maintaining abstinence and for long term sobriety. Some pharmacotherapies include:

  1. Methadone maintenance treatment can be used for opioid addiction. Methadone is a man-made opioid medication that is long acting and helps block the negative effects of drugs like heroin for individuals receiving treatment to overcome their addiction. Methadone is administered to the patient in specific doses to help prevent withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings for the drug.

  2. Another drug that's used to reduce and sometimes eliminate the withdrawal symptoms that are associated with opioid addiction is Buprenorphine. The risk of overdose is very low and it doesn't produce euphoria or sedation that's normally caused by heroin or other opioids. There are two different formulas of buprenorphine that are available for patients going through treatment for opioid dependence. Subutex is a pure form of buprenorphine and Suboxone are both used in the treatment of opioid addiction but Suboxone is the medication that's more commonly prescribed.

  3. Naltrexone is a man-made opioid antagonist that has very few side effects. Naltrexone neutralizes the effect that the abused opioid has on the individual's body. Most of the time Naltrexone is prescribed to patients in an outpatient setting and usually after the detoxification process is completed. Naltrexone is also prescribed for individuals that have stopped drinking as long as they're not using any other drugs. When taken as prescribed naltrexone is successful in reducing cravings for alcohol or other drugs and helps the individual maintain abstinence as they work toward sobriety and recovery.

As stated above, medications that are prescribed to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal and decrease cravings are very effective when taken as prescribed. Behavioral therapy is extremely helpful when combined with medications because the individual learns coping skills that help reinforce their abstinence and sobriety. Stress, depression, and anxiety are a part of everyone's life and when trying to maintain abstinence from drug or alcohol addiction these mental health issues can be extremely difficult.

It's important to learn new ways to cope with stress in order to avoid relapse in the future. Behavioral therapy is very beneficial for long term sobriety. Anyone that's used drugs or alcohol for any length of time also has to recognize people, situations, and areas of their life that can trigger a relapse. In behavioral therapy the individual learns to recognize their own personal triggers, how to avoid them, and how to maintain what they've learned.

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    Caitlin B. 12 years ago

    I can honestly say that the decision to go to rehab was the best decision I've made in my entire life. I thought that the worst part of rehab would be the withdrawal and cravings, but I was prescribed medications that helped to alleviate the symptoms of withdrawal and nearly eradicate my cravings. Don't get me wrong; I still wanted to shoot heroin, but I realized that it was my mind wanting me to do drugs and not my body.

    With the help and support of the counselors at my rehab I learned how to control my mind, influence my feelings and manage stress. Before rehab I had no idea what to do after a bad day. I thought heroin was the only way to fix feeling bad. I thought the only way to truly feel good was to get high. I was so wrong.

    Today I'm one year clean. I can't wait to go to my 12-step meeting today and get my one-year coin. I never thought this day would come. I seriously thought I would die before I'd be sober for a year. What I didn't know then is that I had never truly lived. You can't live life high. The only way to live life is to feel everything; the good and the bad, which you just can't do if you're high. Now I know that and now I welcome all of the events and feelings that accompany a normal, healthy life. I definitely have more happy moments than sad ones, all because I'm clean now.

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    Darren S 12 years ago

    Everyone talks about how bad detox is. Even people who aren't drug addicts know how bad detox can be. They all talk about it as though they were talking about dying. Detox is the reason I avoided rehab for nearly five years. Instead of facing the horror of withdrawal I chose to stay constantly high.

    About a year ago I saw my doctor because I had developed an abscess where I had been shooting up. He asked me why I had never considered rehab and I told him all about the horrors of detox. He assured me that medications are available to reduce the discomfort of detox urged me to agree to go to rehab. The addict in me didn't want any part of recovery, but the part of me that wanted to live a happy, healthy life realized that if I didn't take my doctor up on his offer to help me get into rehab I'd likely be dead soon.

    That night I went to detox. After a few days I was transferred to a rehab facility. The detox truly wasn't that bad, and the way I felt when I finally got clean was amazing. I had a level of clarity that I had never had before. I realized that I loved to draw, and I was even good at it. I kept pencils and a sketchpad with me throughout rehab. I drew lots of dark pictures depicting my despair. Now I draw beautiful pictures that remind me of my beautiful life.

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