There many ways people can get and stay sober, and those who have done it themselves will likely tell you that their path is the best one to take. Just like every individual is different, however, so is every individual’s addiction and recovery process—it’s not a simple one-size-fits-all. The 12 Steps is one method that has been proven successful in the treatment of substance use, and it is a fairly simple blueprint to follow. Each person can apply it to their own life, and it serves as more of a guidebook.
At Granite Recovery Centers, while we do incorporate the 12 Steps into our care continuum, we also employ other treatment modalities to ensure the best chances for an individual to get well. As research on addiction treatment continues to move forward, we are now armed with knowledge of certain medications that can assist with a person’s recovery journey. These drugs can cover the initial discomfort during withdrawal periods, help with managing additional medical or mental health issues that are also present in the individual, and curb cravings in the especially delicate first stages of recovery.
While we would be remiss to say these drugs can pose certain risks and side effects on their own, their beneficial properties can tip the scales to have a positive outcome during the stabilization period. They are especially helpful to manage the negative symptoms felt during detox, and the first few months thereafter.
How Do Medications for Addiction Treatment Work?
Drugs and alcohol are addictive in nature because of the way they manipulate the brain’s reward system and pleasure centers. The chemicals brought on when absorbed into the body create a rush of feeling in the body. They can elicit pleasure, calmness, euphoria, lowered inhibitions, and many other effects in between. These feelings are not genuine and are not natural, yet they are able to trick the brain into thinking they are. If the person becomes addicted to the substance, eventually their mind and body will believe it is necessary for their survival.
To help release a person from the binds of an addiction, certain pharmacotherapeutics have been discovered to be helpful and can play a significant role in the recovery process. Though each medication differs from the next, most of them aim to restore balance to the reward system that has been disrupted by substance use.
When treating addiction with medication, the goal is often to diminish uncomfortable symptoms brought on by withdrawal, the detox process, and cravings that follow. Some drugs work to counter the addictive substances so the person will not feel the desired effects.
Some of the medications that have proven successful in helping to manage an addiction include:
- Baclofen (Lioresal): Muscle relaxer and antispasmodic agent used to treat muscle spasms, stiffness in people with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury or disease
- Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban): An antidepressant medication used to treat major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Acamprosate (Campral): Medication used to treat alcohol use disorder that decreases cravings and desire to drink
- Desipramine (Norpramin): A tricyclic antidepressant that increased the amount of natural substances in the brain needed for mental balance
- Disulfiram (Antabuse): Medication used to treat alcoholism that causes one to become very sick if any alcohol is ingested
- Gabapentin (Neurontin): A drug commonly used to relieve nerve pain and partial seizures, belonging to the drug class Gabapentinoids
- Mirtazapine (Remeron): Used to treat depression by elevating mood and restoring neurotransmitters in the brain
- Modafinil (Provigil): Used to treat excessive sleepiness induced by narcolepsy (excessive daytime sleepiness), shift work sleep disorder (sleepiness during scheduled waking hours/difficulty falling asleep during scheduled hours for those who work night shifts/rotating shifts), obstructive sleep apnea, etc.
- Naltrexone (Vivitrol): An opiate antagonist used to help people manage alcohol or opioid dependence by preventing or blocking the effects of the drugs and cutting down on cravings
- Paxil (Paroxetine): An antidepressant belonging to a class of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that can help with mood, sleep, appetite, energy level, etc.
- Topiramate (Topamax): An anticonvulsant and nerve pain medication also used to treat seizures and migraine headaches
- Vigabatrin (Sabril): A anticonvulsant medication used to treat epilepsy
Although these drugs can be effective in the overall treatment of substance use disorder, there is no known drug that can cure the disease of addiction. The purposes of these drugs are to alleviate problematic symptoms to help ‘declutter’ the road to recovery. This way, obstacles such as cravings and anxiety that could lead to a relapse may be avoided so the person can better focus on the deeper root cause for their use.
Effective Uses of Addiction Medications at Granite Recovery Centers
For someone to have the best chances at beating their addiction, a multi-faceted treatment approach might yield the best results. If it is recommended that they try one of the above medications or another, the treatment is often most effective in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies.
Should you choose to seek treatment with us, our Masters-level Clinicians will evaluate and determine if any of these medications are right for you. If you want more information about our Medication–Assisted Treatment program, click here.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder and have questions about treatment options, our Admissions team is available 24/7 and would be happy to talk with you. Please give us a call at 855.712.7784.