8 Types of Medicines Used in Addiction Treatment

Doctors have a wide assortment of medications at their disposal when it comes to treating patients who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. These addiction treatment medicines are designed to target the substances in a patient’s body while also easing the worse side effects of drug and alcohol withdrawal. You can prepare for your own recovery process or prepare to help a loved one who is addicted to drugs or drinking by learning the types of medications that doctors use to treat patients in an addiction treatment program.

1. Benzodiazepine

Benzodiazepine is a medication that is used to reduce anxiety and irritability in addiction treatment patients. Because of how powerful it is, it is commonly used to treat people who are addicted to heroin and opiates. It also can be used to treat people who are severely addicted to alcohol.

Benzodiazepine has a sedative effect and can make people drowsy. Nonetheless, it is effective in easing the symptoms of withdrawal. Patients who are given this medication during recovery must remain under constant supervision of their doctors and nurses because of the drug’s addictive qualities.

2. Antidepressants

People who suffer from prolonged addictions to drugs and alcohol often develop severe depression as a result of their substance abuse. Their brains forget how to produce chemicals that are responsible for feeling happy and content.

When they are in recovery, however, these patients may be given antidepressants like Zoloft and Prozac. These drugs teach the brain how to create happiness-inducing chemicals and relieve the symptoms of depression.

3. Clonidine

Clonidine is a medication that doctors prescribe to recovery patients who suffer from extreme physical side effects of drug and alcohol withdrawal. Some of these symptoms that this medicine can relieve as a patient recovers include:

  • sweating
  • cramps
  • muscle aches
  • anxiety
  • tremors
  • seizures

Once the worst physical symptoms are under control, the addict can then focus on recovering from his or her substance abuse issue.

4. Naltrexone

Naltrexone is a medication that is used to treat opiate and alcohol addiction. It blocks the receptors involved in reward effects in an addict’s brain.

It also minimizes the effects of drinking and eliminates cravings for the drugs or alcohol. Naltrexone has proven effective in reducing relapses of heavy drinking and opiate drug use.

5. Acamprosate

Accamprosate is another medicine that doctors use to ease the worst side effects of drug and alcohol withdrawal. Some of the symptoms that this medicine effectively addresses include:

This medication can have addictive qualities, which is why it is prescribed carefully and requires that patients remain under close medical supervision while taking it.

6. Disulfiram

Disulfiram is a medication that is used to discourage chronic drinking. Alcoholics with severe addictions are often given this medication to dissuade them from drinking and to make the taste of alcohol unpleasant.

When a chronic alcoholic takes Disulfiram, he or she may experience negative side effects like flushing or a reddening of the face and neck as well as nausea and an irregular heartbeat. The sensations of being sick and flushed help discourage people with severe alcoholism from wanting to drink again.

7. Neurontin

Neurontin is a medicine that doctors prescribe to people in addiction treatment programs to ease physical pain. When people are weaning themselves from drugs and alcohol, they may experience significant pain throughout their bodies.

Neurontin helps ease or eliminate nerve pain in a person’s legs and feet as well as controls restless leg syndrome. It also reduces seizures and tremors.

8. Over-the-Counter Medications

People in inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs are also given a wide array of over-the-counter medications to help ease the discomfort of weaning themselves from drugs and alcohol. While the OTC medications are used to treat relatively minor symptoms like headaches and rashes, they still are a vital part of a patient’s medicinal regimen while he or she is in the program.

Some of the OTC meds that are often used along with prescription or controlled medications include:

  • acetaminophen
  • ibuprofen
  • cortisone
  • guaifenesin for coughs and congestion

OTC cough syrups and certain pain relievers may be given sparingly and with the utmost of care so that patients cannot consume them in a quantity that gives them a buzz or high.

Determining the Right OTC and Prescription Medications

So how does a doctor determine what kinds of medications to give you or your loved one in addiction treatment? The type of medicines that you or your friend or relative might take depends a number of different factors. The physician in charge of the recovery program ultimately will want to administer a medicine that reduces cravings while easing the worst side effects of withdrawal.

As such, patients in addiction treatment programs undergo extensive physicals upon admission. They go through a full medical checkup so that doctors understand from what illnesses and conditions from which they suffer.

These examinations also help doctors understand what other medications may be necessary to safeguard a person’s total wellness. For example, a patient who has high blood pressure might need a prescription for a medication that will bring this person’s blood pressure back down to normal readings.

With that, the type of medicines that doctors give to patients rely on how people are when they enter the program and from what other illnesses they may suffer. The medications used to reduce cravings and ease symptoms could negatively interact with other medications patients might be on or aggravate symptoms of other conditions with which they are dealing.

Doctors have an arsenal of different medications that they can prescribe to help people overcome addictions to drugs or alcohol. These medicines are designed to minimize physical and emotional side effects of withdrawing. They also ease physical pain like muscular aching. The type of medicine that you or a loved one might be given depends on factors like overall wellness and severity of addiction.