Treatment Approaches for Substance Abuse and Dependency

Treatment Approaches for Substance Abuse and Dependency

Medically Assisted Treatment for Substance Abuse

Unfortunately in this day and age we still have thousands of people suffering from addiction to alcohol and drugs that are in need of treatment for this serious disease. People of all ages are suffering and many of them know they need help but are afraid to seek treatment for several reasons.

It has to be extremely hard for a person to admit to others they need help let alone admit it to themselves.

They don't realize that those who love and care about them already know they're in trouble and that they need help. Even though their dependency to drugs or alcohol is destroying their lives they fear the unknown so they stick with the familiar which is 'continue the abuse'.

After doing some extensive research, I realized there are numerous people out there that would seek help but they fear the withdrawal and detoxification process. This is totally understandable but the process is necessary when working toward abstinence and sobriety. Anyone who has used drugs of any nature for any length of time or heavily abused a substance for any length of time will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using. It is never safe to detox on your own and by yourself. No matter what your age is or what substance has been abused it's important not to do this without experienced supervision. Just remember that withdrawals may last for a few weeks but sobriety and recovery can last a lifetime.

There are several treatment approaches that are effective when treating dependency to alcohol and drugs. Medications can be used during detoxification which helps decrease the symptoms of withdrawal and sometimes continued during treatment. Detox and treatment varies for each person, and there are many issues that need to be taken into consideration during the detoxification process.

One of the most important things to remember is honesty, no matter how embarrassing or humiliating it may be the professionals that are assisting you with detox need to know just how extensive your drug use and drug history has been. You're not going to tell them anything they haven't heard before so there isn't anything to be ashamed of, if anything it's honorable being straightforward with the truth. This will make a huge difference with your detox process on your part and theirs.

As stated above there are several different medications that can be administered during detoxification depending on the substance or substances that have been abused. If there were more than one drug abused (this is called polydrug) treatment is necessary for each substance. Remember that medically assisted detox is just the first step in the treatment process. It's crucial that you continue on with the rest of the treatment. When the treatment process isn't completed from beginning to end you will be right back where you started.

Medically Assisted Treatment

Medications many times are necessary to help restore the normal function of the brain, this will reduce the cravings for the substance that was abused and help prevent relapse down the road.

Buprenorphine Treatment

Buprenorphine first came on the market in the United States in 1985 as a schedule V narcotic analgesic (anesthetic). Not so long ago you could only find Buprenorphine in a low dose injectable formula under the brand name Buprenex. In 2002 the FDA approved 2 buprenorphine products Suboxone and Subutex for treating narcotic addiction. Both of these products are high dose tablets that dissolve under the tongue (sublingual).

NIH Study Compares Buprenorphine to Methadone in Pregnant Women Who Abuse Opioids

This study has found that babies that are born to opioid addicted women do better when their mothers are treated with buprenorphine or methadone compared to mothers that had no treatment at all. In this trial study buprenorphine appears to be a remarkably better choice compared to methadone when it comes to reducing withdrawal symptoms in newborns.

Right now methadone is the recommended treatment for opioid dependent pregnant women. When methadone is administered correctly it is considered to be relatively safe for the fetus but it is associated with (NAS) neonatal abstinence syndrome. This is an array of symptoms that stem from opioid withdrawal in newborns. This usually requires medical treatment and longer hospital stays.


Many times Naltrexone (brand name ReVia) is used in combination with counseling to help people who have stopped using alcohol and street drugs continue to be abstinent. This medication is not to be used if the individual is still drinking or using street drugs. Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, and helps the individual by decreasing their craving for alcohol while blocking the effects of opioid street drugs. It's critical that Naltrexone be taken as prescribed meaning no more or no less and it's only effective if combined with treatment. Counseling sessions, support group meetings, education programs or other treatments that are recommended by your physician must be combined with Naltrexone in order for it to be a successful treatment.


Methadone is a very well tested medication that's used to treat ">narcotic withdrawal and addiction. Methadone has been used for 30 years to treat addiction to opioids and is very successful as long as it's not abused. Methadone is taken by mouth once a day and it suppresses the withdrawals from narcotics for 24 to 36 hours. This medication is used in the detoxification process for addicts that are dependent on opiates.

Heroin, morphine and other opioid drugs are the only addictions that methadone is effective with. Methadone is not effective with any other drugs or substances of abuse. During Methadone maintenance treatment the individual receives individualized health care and their medically prescribed methadone which reduces cravings to opiates and relieves their withdrawal symptoms.


The FDA has approved a drug called Vivitrol which is used to treat and prevent relapse in patients who are opioid dependent after they are done with their detoxification treatment. This is an extended release formula of naltrexone which is given as an intramuscular injection one time a month. Vivitrol blocks the effects of certain drugs like morphine, heroin, and other opioids. In 2006, Vivitrol was approved to treat alcohol dependence. It's important that the patient doesn't have opioids in their system when they start using Vivitrol so the detoxification process must be completed first.


Ibogaine is a natural psychoactive substance that is found in several different plants. Some countries have banned this substance that has hallucinogen effects but in other countries Ibogaine is used to treat dependencies to opiates, methamphetamine's and other drugs. Many people have said after the first use cravings were reduced. There is some controversy concerning Ibogaine therapy for drug dependency.

Unfortunately even though there are several medications marketed to medically assist withdrawal symptoms and help with the treatment process, there are people abusing them. Many people are upset with the system saying that some of these treatments are just trading one addiction for another. These treatments are designed to help the individual while detoxing and prevent relapse as long as the individual continues with therapy and works hard toward recovery.

These medications aren't miracle drugs; determination and commitment are part of the treatment process also. For those that are dedicated and want to be alcohol and substance free these medications will be successful during your treatment process. Just remember to be honest with yourself and those that care about you, work hard and stay committed, because there is life after addiction!

Websites Used
National Institute on Drug Abuse NIDA
Medline Plus
Office of Diversion Control
FDA U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Topic Discussion

  1. Addict

    Thanks for this excellent and fact filled article on Revia and other drugs to fight addiction! May actually reference to it from one of my sites if you don't mind.

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