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A Brief Note On Medications Used For Substance Abuse Treatment

Aug 14, 2008
Substance abuse treatment is available in various formats in today's times. It is no longer the dreaded kind of treatment that is was about ten years ago, when the only forms of treatment known for curing a person's dependency were to rehabilitate the person in a lonely inpatient setting. In those cases, patients would be isolated from their families and kept away from all kinds of familiar environments by housing them in a rehab center which would be far removed from their homes, both physically and mentally. There needed to be a constant medical vigilance and tales of detox withdrawal and cold turkey were too horrific to be recounted to others, be they adults or children.

However, the scenario of substance abuse treatment has definitely changed in today's times. Today, several kinds of medicines are available for addiction treatment. These medicines can do different things for the person's body. Firstly, they can help remove the person's craving for the substance in totality. Antabuse that is developed for helping people overcome their alcohol addiction is an example of this. When a person is put on Antabuse treatment, the person actually develops an aversion to alcohol. This makes it all the more simple for the person to come out the dependency.

Secondly, some medicines can help people lose the temptation for the addictive substance by replacement therapy. Methadone and buprenorphine used in heroin treatment are both effective in this manner. As long as a person is kept up on these medicines, the person will lose the temptation for the substance of addiction, which in this case is heroin. The only problem with replacement medication (also known as maintenance medication) is that they are themselves addictive, as they belong to the same class of substance as the original substance of the addiction. Therefore, it becomes very important that these medications are provided in a controlled and medically supervised treatment setting.

Speaking of methadone and buprenorphine, methadone needs to be provided in a complete inpatient setting because of it habit-forming nature. The substance can very soon cause an addiction of its own, replete with a withdrawal if it is stopped abruptly. Hence, complete control is needed when this medication is administered. The quantity must be perfectly controlled and it is important to reduce the dosage slowly as the person begins overcoming the heroin dependency. Buprenorphine, the alternative treatment, is not as habit-forming. Hence, in most substance abuse treatment centers, methadone is administered in an inpatient setting while buprenorphine can be administered for outpatient patients also. In recent times, this has made heroin treatment convenient because now there is an outpatient option for people who are looking for a more convenient form of treatment for their mild addiction conditions.

Then there is a third kind of medication that is required during substance abuse treatment. This medication is mainly used for normalizing the conditions of the person's body once the addiction starts wearing off. The bulk of the medications that are provided in alcohol abuse treatment, for example, are for this intention. Campral, which is chemically acamprosate, is an example of such a drug. When the person is kept up on Campral treatment, the chief benefit that they get is that their brain gets stabilized in its function, especially after the exposure to alcohol. Medical experts have not yet discovered the exact manner in which Campral works on the human system, but it definitely acts positively on the pathways of the brain that are influenced by the presence of alcohol in it.

There are various other medications that are provided to the patient to clear off and improve their physiological functions too, those that may have been impaired by the substance of the addiction. There are medications that are provided to improve the functioning of the liver and the kidneys, for example. These medications are provided during the detox treatment and may be kept up during the aftercare program.

This brings us to aftercare medication, one of the most vital arms of the medicinal therapies used in substance abuse treatment. Most of the medications provided during this phase of the treatment are maintenance medication, provided so that the person may effectively come out of the craving of the substance. The rest of the medications are provided so that their bodies do not degenerate on account of the addicted phase of their life. This is both a repair treatment in which already degenerated processes are improved and a prevention treatment where further biological problems to the body are averted.
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