From Drug to Drug: Prescriptions Aid in Addiction Treatment

prescriptions aid in addiction treatment and recoveryTreating a drug addiction with another drug might at first sound counterintuitive—isn’t that just replacing one problem with another? And in fact, that has been a criticism of some drugs like methadone, which is used to treat opioid addictions but that can lead to patients developing a tolerance for and a dependence on this treatment. Not a situation that anyone wants. However, many newer addiction treatment drugs have proven to be significantly more effective in preventing relapses than “cold turkey” attempts to quit. Research suggests that medication combined with behavioral therapy is actually the most successful form of substance abuse treatment that we currently have, so it’s not something that can just be ignored. (SAMHSA)

Addiction to opioids, such as heroin and painkillers like Oxycontin, has proven to be one of the hardest types of substance addiction to overcome

This is due to the fact that users become both physically and mentally dependent on these drugs. In fact, of the users who try to quit opioids without any kind of treatment, fewer than 25% are successful. (PsychCentral) Going through a detoxification period can be very painful, and most people who are dependent on this type of drug need to use prescription medications to overcome their addiction.

Doctors now frequently prescribe suboxone to treat opioid addictions

This medication is actually made out of a combination of two other drugs—buprenorphine and naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid blocker that has no addictive properties and no risk of developing a tolerance, but it does not suppress opioid withdrawal or cravings, and so by itself it is not always the most effective treatment method. That’s part of why it is combined with buprenorphine, an opioid that suppresses withdrawal symptoms and cravings and blocks the effects of other problem opioids.

Unlike methadone, suboxone does not create a feeling of euphoria, and there is little chance of it being abused.  It has proven to be both a safe and effective treatment method when it comes to opioid addictions.More forms of medication-assisted treatment will likely become available as we continue to learn more about the mechanisms of addiction and the parts of the brain that different drugs act upon. And luckily, much of the previous stigma of taking a prescription drug to overcome an addiction is beginning to fade away as people realize that this is an effective form of substance abuse treatment.

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