If you or a loved one have struggled with addiction, you know how challenging it can be to find the right treatment. The road to addiction often begins with a voluntary act, and over time the brain and body become addicted to the substance. Seeking out and consuming the drug becomes the body’s imperative as the brain rewires itself around a need for that drug.
It’s an incredibly hard cycle to break, but over time the field of medicine and science have combined to develop effective treatments like those available at Bank’s Apothecary that can work wonders, even on the most difficult of substance addictions.
What is Drug Addiction?
Drug addiction is a chronic, complex brain disease. Whether the primary use of the drug was prescribed or voluntary, the brain’s chemistry changes throughout the duration of drug use so that the use of the drug becomes a compulsion.
Also called substance use disorder, drug addiction encompasses more than illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine, and can include legal medications and other drugs like alcohol and cigarettes. For example, the opioid epidemic initially stemmed from legal prescription medications designed to treat pain. Today, however, more than 932,000 Americans have died from opioid drug overdoses.
Treatment for drug addiction is as complex and individualized as the addiction itself. Many factors can influence addiction, including:
- Genetics and heredity.
- Emotional health.
- Upbringing and early life experiences.
The symptoms of a drug addiction include:
- A constant craving for the drug.
- Needing more of the drug over time to achieve the same high.
- Taking more and more of the drug over a long period of time.
- Missing out on obligations and instead focusing solely on finding and using the drug.
- Doing abnormal things to earn the money to buy the drug.
- Engaging in risky behaviors, such as sharing needles to get high.
- Trying to stop and repeatedly failing.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop using the drug.
Even the most stubborn drug addiction is treatable, though treatments can be varied and individualized. Here are six treatments that science has shown to be effective.
Six Proven Treatments for Drug Addiction
There are no one-size fits all treatments for drug addiction. However, there are effective treatments for drug addiction that typically start with detoxification and continue with ongoing therapy, medication and other approaches. Treatments are often:
- Holistic, treating the whole person and not just the drug addiction.
- Individualized to meet specific challenges.
- Long-term; it takes time to care for or reverse an addiction that took years to develop.
Six proven therapeutic approaches to addiction treatment include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
- Contingency Management (CM)
- 12-Step Programs
- Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
The first step toward breaking the addiction cycle is to detox. Detoxification is a period where the body sheds the drug. During detox, doctors use medications to keep patients comfortable as the drugs leave the system. Typical medications include:
- Anti-nausea medications
Detoxification paves the way for actual treatment of addiction symptoms. According to a study by the National Institute of Health, patients who do not receive any further treatment after detoxification usually resume drug use.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, also known as CBT, is used to treat everything from anxiety and eating disorders to post-traumatic stress and drug addiction. CBT is a therapeutic method that addresses the painful memories that may have triggered the initial substance abuse.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)
REBT is another therapeutic approach that seeks to help patients understand negative thinking patterns and regain control over the beliefs and behaviors that contributed to addiction.
Contingency Management (CM)
Research from the National Institute of Health shows that Contingency Management treatment, or CM, reinforces the movement away from drug and alcohol addiction by rewarding positive behaviors such as abstaining from taking the addictive substance. The rewards are tangible, and they are often effective in preventing drug addiction relapse.
Methods like the 12-step program have a series of ladder rungs that a recovering addict must pursue. These steps include emotional, physical, social and spiritual work that begins with the acceptance of being powerless against the addiction unless the addict seeks help. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are both popular 12-step programs.
Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
The FDA has approved several different types of medications to treat opioid and alcohol addiction. These highly-effective, evidenced-based medications deal with both the physical withdrawal in addition to the psychological cravings that lead to addictive behavior. Some of the most common Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) plans include:
For Opioid Dependency
- Buprenorphine, which suppresses the opioid craving. Unlike methadone, buprenorphine can be prescribed in your physician’s office, community hospital, health department, or in a correctional facility.
- Methadone, which blocks the effects of opioids and reduces cravings for the drug. Methadone actually changes how your nervous system and brain respond to the pain you’re feeling. The effects are slower and this medication is less addictive than codeine, heroin, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone.
- Naltrexone, which stops the “high” felt from the opioid, in turn reducing the craving for the substance. It has also been approved by the FDA for alcohol use disorder.
- Sublocade, a limited distribution drug (LDD) that prevents cravings and withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking the opioid. Sublocade helps if you are struggling with addiction to fentanyl, heroin, morphine, and oxycodone, to name a few. Sublocade is a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection and is part of a class of treatment medications known as partial opioid agonists.
For Alcohol Dependency
- Acamprosate, which reduces the urge to drink alcohol. It’s typically given once addicts are in recovery and no longer drinking.
- Disulfiram, which treats chronic alcoholism in people who are detoxed and sober.
- Naltrexone, which is for alcohol use and works in the same way it does for opioids by blocking the euphoric effects of the drink.
How To Get Help for Addiction
It’s important to recognize that addiction is complicated, and it often comes with a variety of factors contributing to the issue, including voluntary and medicinal drug use, genetics and life experiences. All of these factors can combine in a way that we don’t yet understand, and in some people it can create lifelong struggles with addiction. There is no shame in this; addiction is a chronic disease like diabetes or cancer. Fortunately, there are many resources available that can help.
Banks Apothecary remains committed to provide the medication and treatment needed to get healthy and recover from illness. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, help is available.