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Medication Management: How to Reduce Cravings Associated With Drugs and Alcohol

Medication Management: How to Reduce Cravings Associated With Drugs and Alcohol

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is necessary in most cases of substance addiction. MAT combines FDA-approved medications to help with detox with various behavioral therapies to achieve sobriety. The pharmacological approach has been shown to effectively increase survival rates, rehab retention rates, and individuals’ ability to maintain a good quality of life.

Detoxification is perhaps the most difficult part of becoming sober. It requires proper diagnosis as well as timely intervention, integrating the right medication with professional monitoring. If you have questions about what kind of medications are available and how they work, it is time that you become more informed about medication management and MAT.

Diagnosis and Assessment

Before you start a medication management program, health professionals will conduct a thorough assessment of your condition. This will help them determine the appropriate course of action and necessary level of MAT, including the best medication for your particular needs.

In the field of addiction recovery, health professionals have accumulated a large toolkit when it comes to screening and assessment. The clinician-directed assessment process is fairly straightforward. The clinician will have you fill out a standardized questionnaire asking about your current drug or alcohol use, treatment history, health history, patterns of behavior, symptoms, and the effect addiction has had on your life. Afterward, they will conduct a face-to-face interview with you before making an official diagnosis and starting you on an MAT path.

Medications for Managing Alcohol Cravings

When a person with alcohol addiction quits drinking, the brain craves the substance, and these cravings can increase the risk of relapse. The good news is that many medications can reduce urges to drink. The most common medications for this use are naltrexone, acamprosate, and topiramate.

Take naltrexone pills for example. This kind of medication blocks the pleasurable effects caused by alcohol and helps curb cravings. These pills are taken daily to relieve withdrawal symptoms and cravings. There is also an injectable form that can be taken monthly. Medical professionals often prescribe naltrexone to people who have been able to quit drinking before they enter detox treatment.

Acamprosate works differently; it normalizes brain chemistry to reduce cravings for alcohol. This medication is often prescribed after an individual has gone through withdrawal. It is not effective for people who are still drinking. In cases of continued alcoholism, another medication, topiramate, works better.

Medication for Treating Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms 

During alcohol detoxification, some medications can alleviate withdrawal symptoms. The most common medications include benzodiazepines, clonidine, dexmedetomidine, and anticonvulsants. They treat symptoms such as anxiety, seizures, and high blood pressure, all of which are possible reactions to withdrawal.

Like all medication management services, it takes time to see whether a given type of medication works. Sometimes, several types of medications are used during treatment for alcoholism. Regardless of which medication is most effective, it should always be used in conjunction with therapy and other types of addiction treatment.

Medications for Treating Drug Addiction 

Many medications are used to manage drug-related withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, and treat co-occurring conditions. They help re-establish normal brain function and decrease cravings. For example, common medications for treating opioid addiction include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.

Methadone and buprenorphine suppress withdrawal symptoms and relieve cravings by acting on certain brain areas. Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids at their receptor sites in the brain and should be used only in individuals who have completed detoxification.

Medications for Treating Co-Occurring Conditions

For people with co-occurring mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression, there are also medications health professionals recommend. Without treating these conditions, people’s cravings may intensify even after detoxification.

Health professionals may prescribe psychotropic medications that will not interfere with medications that target substance use. These medications include antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications. Sometimes health professionals also monitor the level of B vitamins in people with severe alcohol dependence, as vitamin deficiencies can be related to mental health issues, which can interact with addictions.

Medication Is Part of an Integrated Approach

Medications must be combined with counseling and behavioral therapy to provide an integrated approach. This is also known as a “whole person” method. Research has shown that an integrated approach can effectively treat substance addiction and its co-occurring disorders.

Integrated recovery works because no single area in the life of a recovering individual operates independently. To boost success rates, health professionals need to use all available resources. An integrated approach also allows for the maximum degree of customization and innovation in the field of recovery. If you or your loved one is looking for a quality treatment center, choose one that uses an integrated approach to treatment.

Are you looking for a quality addiction treatment facility that offers an integrated approach including medically-assisted detox? At Laguna Shores Recovery, we have experienced health professionals who can coach you through recovering from addiction. Laguna Shores Recovery takes an integrated treatment approach and utilizes non-narcotic synthetic medications to assist individuals in overcoming their cravings for alcohol and drugs. Our facility is just minutes from Laguna Beach in the serene residential neighborhood of Mission Viejo. With plenty of room to enjoy outdoor activities, relax in the hot tub, read a book in a hammock, or talk with new friends in our modern living areas, Laguna Shores Recovery provides comfort while focusing on results. Schedule an appointment with us today to discover how our customizable plans can help you. Call us at (866) 229-9923, and we will be happy to talk with you about short-term and long-term recovery plans.