Drug and alcohol addiction is a huge problem for both teens and adults. A lot of people with addiction problems began drinking alcohol or taking drugs as teenagers, and as is the case with many drugs, addiction can occur after just a few uses. The millions of people that suffer from addiction are a danger to both themselves and others. Excessive use of drugs or alcohol can lead to numerous health problems and even death. And of course, if someone under the influence gets behind the wheel of a car, they put everyone on the road in danger. So what kinds of treatment options are available for people with drug or alcohol addiction? Let’s have a look.
Some of the Different Approaches to Drug and Alcohol Dependency Treatment
There is no one particular treatment option that works best for everyone. Everyone is different and there are various approaches to suit the needs of different individuals. Treatment options also depend on the drug that the person is addicted to. For example, treatment for alcohol addiction may be very different than treatment for opioid addiction. A lot of people with drug problems may also suffer from mental illness and may have special needs that will need to be addressed.
Regardless of a person’s drug of choice, or any other issues they may be suffering from, there are several categories of treatment options that are commonly used. Sometimes medication can be used to treat patients, helping them cope with their withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. Counseling and behavioral therapies are also very common and may be conducted on an individual basis or in a group therapy session.
Medications to Help Treat Drug or Alcohol Addiction
There are several different medications to help treat addictions to different substances. Medication is used during the detoxification period, which is the time when you are trying to get the substance you are addicted to out of your system. This is a time where your body will go through withdrawals that can be painful and agonizing. Medication can help ease withdrawal symptoms and prevent cravings that would cause a person to relapse.
Medication for Opioid Dependency
Opioids are derived from poppy and include the drugs heroin and morphine. One medication that has been used for many years to treat opioid addiction is methadone. Methadone, a synthetic opioid, targets the same part of the brain that is affected by heroin and morphine and even produces a similar effect. However, it also helps mitigate withdrawal symptoms. In higher doses, methadone can block the feelings of euphoria that people get from opioids, and with the proper dosage, it can be used effectively to help patients stop using those substances.
Another medication used to treat opioid dependency is Buprenorphine. This drug is available in various formulations with two of the most common ones being Subutex and Suboxone. At low doses, these medications can produce similar effects to opioids without the patient experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Furthermore, Buprenorphine carries a lower risk of abuse than methadone.
Medication for Alcohol Dependency
The FDA has approved three medications for treating alcohol dependency. There is a fourth medication that is undergoing clinical trials, but the three currently approved are naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram. Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors in the brain that make people crave alcohol and feel good when they drink it. It is believed that acamprosate helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms. Disulfiram creates a very unpleasant reaction when a patient drinks alcohol. It interferes with the degradation of alcohol which results in an accumulation of acetaldehyde which causes nausea and palpitations if a patient drinks alcohol, causing discomfort in the patient.
Behavioral Treatments for Drug and Alcohol Dependency
Medication alone is often not enough to wean people with addictions off of drugs and alcohol. People with a dependency problem are greatly helped by counseling, whether that takes the form of an outpatient treatment program or a residential, live-in treatment program.
Outpatient treatment may include medication as well as counseling sessions that may be one-on-one between a patient and a therapist, or a group counseling session where a patient will be counseled in a group of other people with the same problem.
Residential Treatment Programs
Residential treatment programs house patients at the treatment facility itself. Treatment can last for several months and may also include medication and counseling sessions. Residential treatment programs can be very effective for people with more severe dependency problems by providing a safe and structured environment.