Benefits of Drug Therapy in Addiction Treatment
According to the NIDA, “Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients,” and drug therapy uses pharmacological treatments to help those in addiction rehab. There are many benefits to the use of drug therapy for this purpose, and in most cases, it is a helpful treatment especially when paired with counseling. Some of its most important benefits are listed below.
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The use of medications during the withdrawal stage actually makes it much easier for patients to abstain from drug abuse and work toward a strong recovery. Because intense withdrawal symptoms often play a large part in the cause of relapse, medication can help patients avoid this issue, especially in the beginning of treatment, and feel the often painful or unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal less acutely. However, it is always important for patients to remember that “medically assisted detoxification is not in itself ‘treatment’––it is only the first step in the treatment process.”
Cravings can be extremely difficult for patients to bear. They often cause many individuals to relapse back to drug abuse, and medications like methadone and buprenorphine for opioids and benzodiazepines for alcohol can help minimize the potential for this issue. Some drugs, like cocaine and other stimulants, do not have medications that are officially approved by the FDA to treat their addiction syndromes, but anticraving agents can often be used as a part of drug therapy to minimize this symptom.
Not an Addiction Itself
According to SAMHSA, “Taking medication for opioid addiction is like taking medication to control heart disease or diabetes. It is NOT the same as substituting one addictive drug for another.” This is also true for other instances in which drug therapy is used to treat addiction (such as with nicotine and alcohol dependence). Because the individual’s drug intake is monitored by a doctor who understands their specific needs, it actually helps patients draw the distinction between beneficial drug use and dangerous drug abuse.
Helps Patients Focus on Counseling
Counseling is an extremely important part of addiction treatment. For some patients, withdrawal symptoms (or other drug-related issues) make it difficult for them to concentrate on these sessions and receive the most they can from their treatment. Therefore, when these problems are minimized with the regular use of drug therapy, patients can better focus on learning new coping skills, facilitating a better, more well-rounded recovery.
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Different for Every Patient
Just like any other treatment, the type, amount, and duration of drug therapy is different for every patient. This is extremely beneficial because it ensures that each individual patient receives a treatment plan that is catered to their needs. Otherwise, treatment itself would not be as effective.
Proven to Reduce Abuse and Its Negative Effects
According to the CDC, “Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) can help injection drug users (IDUs) reduce or stop injecting and return to productive lives.” This is also true for other types of drug therapy, and many patients have experienced extremely positive effects when taking medications as prescribed by a doctor in order to treat their addictions. These additional effects include:
- Reduced criminal activity and arrest rates
- Improved family relationships and stability
- Improved overall mental and physical health
- “Reduced risk of overdose“