Medication Management During Recovery

Medication Management During Recovery

Careful prescription and management of medications can be an important part of recovery from addiction.

Initially, medications can greatly reduce the discomfort and dangers of the detox process. After that, it is important to reassess the further benefits of ongoing medications. There are medications that have been shown to be helpful in the treatment of alcoholism, opioid addiction and nicotine addiction. These medications have been shown to enhance a person’s likelihood of achieving stable recovery when prescribed judiciously and monitored carefully. In addition, many patients with addictions have other co-occurring conditions such as anxiety, pain, insomnia and depression to name a few. In order to give a patient the best chance of success, these conditions must be addressed as well.

Addiction is a complex disease, and quitting takes more than just willpower. Physician prescribed medication can be a useful tool in the treatment of addiction. Just as a person with heart disease or diabetes would have a specialist trained in the treatment of these diseases, so to can a person with an addiction benefit from the care of a specialist who is trained in the treatment of this disease.

In many cases patients with addictive disorders have a co-occurring condition like pain, anxiety or depression before their difficulties with drugs and alcohol developed. In fact, it is often the case that early on the drug was effective treatment or a way to self medicate the other condition.

For example, in some estimates, more than half of the people who develop alcoholism have an underlying diagnosis of depression, or anxiety. Initially, for these people, drinking alcohol may have helped them to feel less depressed or anxious. However, over time, they require greater amounts and more frequent alcohol to feel relief. Meanwhile, their anxiety and depression tend to worsen between drinking episodes. Ultimately, the consumption of alcohol itself becomes very harmful, does little to help, and only worsens things.

Obviously helping patients like this to stop drinking is a critical important first step. However, if the other underlying disorders are not addressed, they are extremely likely to resume drinking before long. There are many important relationships between specific drugs and other underlying “co-occurring disorders”. Common examples include opiates and pain conditions, or benzodiazepines, like xanax, or klonopin and anxiety. In these cases it is always important to help people find methods to manage the underlying condition. In many instances, medications that are not habit forming can be important tools to help treat these problems.

“No other rehab I’ve been to has been able to provide an environment which enabled me to be myself and grow so much.”

— C.U.

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