nurse with hand on patient shoulder

Many people think of drug treatment and rehab programs as they are portrayed in the media: detox, an inpatient stay, therapy and then sobriety. This is not always the case. In fact, every addiction is treated differently, as there are a multitude of different reasons why a person chose their specific substance to abuse, and many different ways to treat their addiction. Here are specific drug treatments for common addictions.

Cocaine treatments

Currently, there are no medications approved by the FDA that can be used to treat cocaine addiction or help alleviate cravings. Consequently, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is working incredibly hard to find medications that will help treat this addiction safely. At the moment a vaccine that will help prevent cocaine from entering the brain holds the most promise, however, there are yet to be any human trials. Subsequently, the most effective treatment for cocaine addiction is still detox, inpatient treatment, and therapy. Programs that use a rewards-based system seem to work most effectively; wherein a recovering addict is granted certain prizes or ‘points’ for abstaining or completing certain tasks.

Heroin and Other Opioids treatments

Studies have shown that treatment for heroin and opioid addiction is most successful when pharmacological and behavioral treatments are combined within a controlled environment. The first step within a recovery program will almost always include a detoxification process; wherein the patient undergoes severe withdrawal symptoms after their body is denied access to their drug of choice. This process can be very dangerous to the patient, and often includes nausea, vomiting, dizziness, cold sweat and many more symptoms that can prove alarming and frightening for anyone undergoing the experience.

Medication is often used to make this process easier on the patient and reduce the amount of pain experienced. However, these medications can only be administered by professional medical personnel, such as those at Beachside Rehab, as they often work on the same opioid receptors as drugs like heroin. Methadone, for example, is a medication that has been used to treat heroin addiction since the 1960s, but can itself be very addictive when abused or overused. Methadone addiction requires it’s own detoxification and therapeutic processes, and should thus only be administered by a medical professional to avoid addiction and abuse.

As with cocaine, heroin and opioid addictions cannot be treated solely with medication, and also require behavioral therapy such as CBT, reward therapy or inpatient treatment.

Prescription Medications

Treatment for the abuse of prescription medication varies depending on the type of medication that was abused. Because of the nature of these drugs, addiction is often curbed by slowly tapering off their use rather than undergoing a detoxification process, although some rehabs do promote the ‘cold-turkey’ approach. Other medication can be used to ease the symptoms of withdrawal, and continual therapy sessions are strongly recommended.

Some of the most commonly abused prescription medicines include sedatives and anti-anxiety medication, such as benzodiazepines. One often finds that abuse of these medicines occurs in conjunction with the abuse of other drugs, such as cocaine or alcohol. In the instances of polydrug addiction inpatient treatment is strongly recommended, as attempting to recover by yourself can be very dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

Understanding what we currently know about addiction, that it is a chronic disease that changes the way users process pleasure and happiness, we can provide better treatments and therapies to those in need.