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What Types Of Medications Are Often Used To Treat Substance Abuse

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Substance abuse is one of the worst problems in America today. Many people are addicted to drugs, alcohol or tobacco and this is extremely dangerous to their health. Fortunately, there are certain medications that have been successful in helping people break the habit of abusing these harmful substances. These medications can stop cravings and prevent a relapse after the substances are no longer being used. They are often used in both hospitals and substance abuse centers. While not every person responds to them in the same way, some have been able to completely stop using drugs, alcohol or tobacco. These are the medications that are used for treating substance abuse.

Drug Abuse Medications 

Opioids such as methadone and buprenorphine are commonly used to treat addiction to opiate drugs. These medications block the effects of drugs like heroin and morphine on the brain and relieve cravings and withdrawal symptoms. After completing this treatment, patients take part in behavioral treatment programs and are often able to lead very productive, drug-free lives.

Alcohol Abuse Medications 

There are three medications that have been FDA approved for treating alcohol addiction. They are acamprosate, naltrexone and disulfiram. Acamprosate works by reducing withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and depression. This makes quitting the use of alcohol much easier for the patient.

Naltrexone treats alcohol abuse by blocking the receptors in the brain that makes patients crave alcohol and enjoy drinking it. The third medication, disulfiram, works in a different way. This medication increases the amount of acetaldehyde that is consumed when a person drinks which results in unwanted severe side effects such as nausea, heart palpitations and flushing of the skin.

Tobacco Abuse Medications 

Two prescription medications have been approved for helping patients quit smoking. These are bupropion and varenicline. Both of these medications work by helping minimize cravings to smoke and prevent relapse once the patient has stopped smoking. 

For those who have been smoking for only a short time, there are over-the-counter products that can be successful. These are nicotine replacement therapy products and include nicotine gum, patches and lozenges.

Along with medications, other types of therapy are also offered during substance abuse treatment. This usually includes individual and group therapy, education on the dangers of substance abuse, and motivational meetings for those who are actively attempting treatment. With the combination of medications, individual counseling and behavioral treatments many people are able to beat substance abuse and become healthy again. Contact professionals like those from Headwaters Counseling for more information.