The Risks and Rewards of Drug-Assisted Addiction Treatment

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Withdrawal is often one of the toughest aspects of overcoming addiction. In fact, many addicts relapse because they can’t tolerate the cravings and other withdrawal symptoms. Certain medications have been approved for use with addiction, which has improved the success rate of treatment. However, there are risks associated with drug-assisted addiction treatment.

The Rewards of Drug Assistance

The main benefit of using certain medications to help with withdrawal is the relief from the symptoms associated with the process. They treat emotional and mental withdrawal symptoms as well as the physical.

For instance, benzodiazepines help reduce irritability and anxiety. Anti-depressants reduce the depression many addicts feel when they go through withdrawal because the brain has not begun creating the “feel-good” hormones on its own yet after relying on the addictive substances. Clonidine is one drug given to reduce physical side effects such as cramps and muscle aches, sweating and tremors.

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Generally, the doctor will prescribe one of these medications to help with the withdrawal during detox. The dosages will be adjusted and reduced as the patient improves. The goal is to help the addict recover from the addiction slowly and wean off the drugs used to assist in the treatment.

The Risks

Prescribing these medications does come with some risk. The main concern for many of the drugs is causing a new addiction. Many of these drugs are also addictive when given for a long period of time or at a high dosage. It’s important for the doctor to monitor the usage and watch for signs of addiction.

Another risk if the person is attending an outpatient program is that they won’t follow the prescription precisely. Often, they must check in to an outpatient center to receive their medication, which prevents this issue.

Find out about drug-assisted addiction treatment if you or a loved one are considering a program. It can mean the difference between relapse and success.


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