“People are able to stop illicit use. Their risk for overdose goes down, their risk of health-associated complications from their substance use goes down. They’re much more likely to return to work, to return to normal life and have less criminal activity. So there’s a number of benefits to the medications.”
~Dr. Carla Marienfeld, board-certified addiction psychiatrist and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego
One of the largest barriers to substance abuse treatment is the fact that the brain chemistry of alcoholics and addicts has been altered by their disease. A person in active addiction has gone beyond the ability to choose whether or not to drink or use drugs.
Until the substance abuser is physically free from the effects of their substance of choice, recovery cannot even begin. This is why drug and alcohol detoxification is so important, because it allows the person’s body to purge itself of the controlling substance.
Recovery from Addiction Is More Than Detoxification
Unfortunately, recovery requires more than just detox, because it takes time for a substance abuser’s brain to return to normal, and until it does, cravings are extremely strong and sobriety can be fragile.
These cravings can even interfere with sobriety, because it is hard to hear the messages of recovery – counseling, fellowship support, behavioral modification, etc. – when they are being drowned out by the roar of drug and alcohol cravings.
For that reason, many people in early recovery rely on prescription medications dispensed by doctors specializing in addictive medicine to help them with cravings while their brains slowly normalize.
Naltrexone Is One of the Best choices for Medication-Assisted Treatment
One of the best anti-craving ascription medications is naltrexone, a safe anti-addiction drug that works by blocking the effects of alcohol, opioids, or cocaine.
- Alcohol – Decreases the incidence of heavy drinking, the number of days spent drinking, and the total amount of alcohol consumed.
- Opioids – Takes away the “reward” of opioid abuse, by blocking the effects of opioids within the brain. In one study, 67% of patients given naltrexone completed treatment, and when it was combined with clonidine, that percentage jumped to over 85%.
- Cocaine – One study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics called naltrexone a “promising treatment for prevention of cocaine relapse”.
MAT is never a stand-alone treatment for the disease of addiction. Instead, it should be used in combination with counseling, group therapy, and personal support systems to promote continued abstinence and recovery efforts.
If you live in Southern California in your struggling with any form of substance abuse, Lasting Recovery outpatient rehab in San Diego can help you restore sobriety, sanity, and serenity to your life.