Addiction Medications Used in Treatment

medications used in treatment

With timely initiation of addiction medications, you can not only manage withdrawal symptoms but also curb cravings and prolong abstinence. In combination with therapy, counseling, and support groups, addiction medications are an integral part of an effective treatment plan. 


Addiction Medications

Addiction, like any other chronic medical condition, is treatable. The selection of addiction medication depends on the type of the substance being abused and the severity of the addiction.

A doctor may prescribe these medications in an inpatient or outpatient facility based on:

  • Type of addiction
  • Severity of addiction
  • Your response to treatment


Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) uses FDA-approved medicines along with behavioral therapies to treat addiction. Each MAT program is individualized to meet a person’s unique needs. Such programs are highly effective in:

  • Increasing survival
  • Decreasing drug use
  • Improving the quality of life


Addiction Medications for Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal occurs when you stop or cut down drug intake. Stopping drug use or reducing the amount is the initial recovery period. You may also call it detoxification or detox. 

Because you have had an addictive substance in your body for an extended period, you will likely experience several uncomfortable symptoms during withdrawal. Withdrawal can be mild or severe depending on:

  • The duration of abuse
  • Your age and physical health, and psychological status
  • The method of withdrawal

While not all withdrawals are severe, some can be life-threatening. Besides, withdrawal can also make you more likely to return to drug use. This is when you need specialized medical care and addiction medications. 

pills in spoons

Some commonly used medications during withdrawal include:


Temazepam (Brand: Restoril)

It is a benzodiazepine (benzo) that helps you fall and stay asleep. 


Metoclopramide (Brand: Reglan) and prochlorperazine (Brand: Stemetil)

People use these medicines to treat withdrawal-associated nausea and vomiting. 


Hyoscine Butylbromide (Brand: Buscopan)

It helps relieve abdominal cramps. 


Loperamide (Brand: Imodium)

It helps reduce bouts of diarrhea. 


Acetaminophen (Brand: Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Brand: Motrin)

These medicines help relieve headaches and other pain. 


Diazepam (Brand: Valium)

Diazepam is a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety, agitation, and restlessness. 


Addiction Medications for Relapse Prevention

“Relapses are common and tend to occur multiple times. Nonetheless, for some users, they can lead to a potentially fatal overdose.”

Relapse is when you start using a drug after a period of abstinence. Medications can help reduce cravings and relieve uncomfortable symptoms so that you will be less likely to resume drug use. 

Some medications used to prevent relapse include:


Methadone (Brand: Methadose)

Your doctor may administer methadone if you have moderate to severe opioid withdrawal. Methadone is a long-acting addiction medicine, and its effects last 10 to 20 days. It relieves opioid withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings.


Buprenorphine (Subutex)

Buprenorphine is the best addiction medication for managing moderate to severe opioid withdrawal. It relieves withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings. It is typically given at least eight hours after last heroin use. 


Naltrexone (Brand: Vivitrol, Revia)

An anti-craving medicine used to treat alcohol addiction. Naltrexone works by working in the brain to block the rewarding effects of alcohol use. 


Buprenorphine and naloxone (Brand: Suboxone)

Suboxone is a combination drug used to treat opioid dependence. Doctor use Suboxone in two phases:


For induction: Induction is the first phase of opioid dependence treatment. Suboxone reduces withdrawal symptoms that occur when you stop using an opioid or use a lower dose. Doctors use Suboxone for induction in people who are dependent on short-acting opioids. These include heroin, codeine, morphine, and oxycodone. 

For maintenance: Maintenance aims to help you stick to your addiction treatment program. For maintenance, a stable dosage of Suboxone is used for a prolonged period. In opioid dependence, Suboxone may be used for several months to a year or even longer. 

Guy with head on his desk

In addition to its desired effects, Suboxone can cause several side effects. Some common suboxone side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Back pain


Serious suboxone side effects can include:

  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Abuse and dependence
  • Breathing problems
  • Coma
  • Hormone problems
  • Liver damage
  • Severe withdrawal symptoms


Acamprosate (Brand: Campral)

This FDA-approved medication is used to treat alcohol addiction. It helps reduce alcohol withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and dysphoria (feeling unhappy). Some studies suggest that acamprosate is more likely to be effective for severe addiction.


Disulfiram (Brand: Antabuse)

Disulfiram affects how your body breaks down alcohol. It prevents your body from processing alcohol. As a result, a substance called acetaldehyde accumulated in the body. When you drink alcohol while using disulfiram, you will have flushing (warmth and redness in the face), nausea, and abnormal heart rhythms. 


Bupropion (Brand: Zyban)

This drug is available only on a doctor’s prescription. Bupropion is the primary treatment for people with nicotine addiction. Bupropion works by relieving some of the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, including depression. 

Some people may experience depressive symptoms when they stop tobacco use. Bupropion makes you less likely to experience depressive symptoms. That way, it helps reduce a relapse. 


Varenicline (Brand: Chantix)

Varenicline works in the brain to block the rewarding effects of nicotine. Besides, it may also release small amounts of dopamine, the feel-good hormone, in the brain. 


Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs)

These medications release a controlled amount of nicotine into the bloodstream. Consequently, they help reduce cravings. They are available in the form of patches, sprays, gums, and lozenges.


Where Can you get Addiction Medications?

Addiction medications are an indispensable part of an addiction treatment program. Most of these medications require a doctor’s prescription and close monitoring during treatment.” 

guys putting pills in hand

Addiction treatment is a long-term process that requires specialized medical care. In severe cases, aggressive treatment may be necessary. This is crucial to preventing relapse and treating co-occurring mental conditions.

Treatment at an inpatient psychiatric facility may be necessary for co-occurring mental illness, which occurs in most people with addiction. 

It is a well-known fact that addiction medications work the best when combined with counseling and behavioral therapies. Moreover, long-term follow-up care (aftercare) is essential to sustain benefits and prevent relapse.

While some people choose to detox at home, it can be harmful or even fatal if appropriate care is not taken. Thus, it is wise to get addiction treatment at a facility that provides medical care in a safe, controlled environment. 




How long does Suboxone stay in your system?

The number of time effects of Suboxone is expected to last is about 24 to 42 hours. After a single dose, in blood tests and urine tests, the lengths of time the drug usually clears from the body after 5 to 8 days in healthy people or one to two weeks in those with severe liver disease; according to the national institute on drug addiction, suboxone can show up in hair tests for 1 to 3 months after use. 


How does medication help with substance use disorder?

Addiction medications can help relieve uncomfortable symptoms that occur when you stop or reduce drug or alcohol intake. Medicines for addiction are crucial to managing withdrawal and preventing relapse. 


How do you get rid of addictions?

Quitting an addiction can be more challenging than you think. Because addiction is a disease rather than a habit, seeking prompt medical treatment is the best approach for long-term sobriety.


If you, or someone you know, are looking for a medically assisted treatment to get over their addiction and ease the symptoms of withdrawal, contact Opus Health today. We can help you detox and set you up with a treatment plan that will put you on track for success. 

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