Because of the nature and complications of addiction, it is always very important to be very careful with the way one choses to handle the recovery process. Professionally doctor Dalal Akoury MD and addiction expert of several decades is registering that the effective approaches for drug addiction treatment should include and is not limited to medication and behavioral therapy, especially when combined. It is important to appreciate that these are very important elements of an overall therapeutic process that often begins with detoxification, followed by treatment and relapse prevention. Bringing the withdrawal symptoms complications to manageable levels can be very important in the commencement of treatment. And besides that, preventing relapse is also very necessary for maintaining the effects of treatment. And according to the experts at AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center under the able leadership of doctor Dalal Akoury, it is important to note that sometimes just as with other chronic conditions, incidents of relapse may require a return to the prior treatment components. A variety of care and services that includes a customized treatment regimen addressing all aspects of an individual’s life, including medical and mental health services and follow up options like for instance, community or family based recovery support systems can be crucial to a patient’s success in achieving and maintaining a drug free lifestyle says doctor Akoury.
Medications can be used to help with different aspects of the treatment process including:
Withdrawal – From the past experience it is worth noting that medications is very essential as it facilitates the process of suppressing withdrawal symptoms during detoxification. And besides that it is also important to note that, medically assisted detoxification is not in itself treatment of an addiction, as a matter of fact, it is only the first step in the treatment process. It therefore means that patients who go through medically assisted withdrawal and fail to go for any further treatment show drug abuse patterns similar to those who were never treated.
Treatment – Medications can be used to help re-establish normal brain function and to prevent relapse and diminish cravings. Currently, we have medications for opioids which may include heroin and morphine, tobacco, (nicotine), and alcohol addiction. Efforts are also being made in developing others for treatment of stimulant e.g. cocaine, methamphetamine etc. and cannabis (marijuana) addiction. Most people with severe addiction problems, however, are poly-drug users meaning that they are using more than one drug at the sometime. Such people will definitely require treatment for all of the substances that they abuse like for instance:
- Opioids: Methadone, buprenorphine and, for some individuals, naltrexone are effective medications for the treatment of opiate addiction. Acting on the same targets in the brain as heroin and morphine, methadone and buprenorphine suppress withdrawal symptoms and relieve cravings. Naltrexone works by blocking the effects of heroin or other opioids at their receptor sites and should only be used in patients who have already been detoxified. All medications help patients disengage from drug seeking and related criminal behavior and become more receptive to behavioral treatments.
- Tobacco: A selection of preparations of nicotine replacement therapies now exist including the patch, spray, gum, and lozenges that are available over the counter. In addition, two prescription medications have been FDA–approved for tobacco addiction: bupropion and varenicline. They have different mechanisms of action in the brain, but both help prevent relapse in people trying to quit. Each of the above medications is recommended for use in combination with behavioral treatments, including group and individual therapies.
- Alcohol: Three medications have been approved by FDA for treating alcohol dependence: naltrexone, acamprosate and disulfiram.
- Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors that are involved in the rewarding effects of drinking and in the craving for alcohol. It reduces relapse to heavy drinking and is highly effective in some but not all patients—this is likely related to genetic differences.
- Acamprosate is thought to reduce symptoms of protracted withdrawal, such as insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and
- Dysphoria (an unpleasant or uncomfortable emotional state, such as depression, anxiety, or irritability). It may be more effective in patients with severe dependence.
- Disulfiram interferes with the degradation of alcohol, resulting in the accumulation of acetaldehyde, which, in turn, produces a very unpleasant reaction that includes flushing, nausea, and palpitations if the patient drinks alcohol.
Compliance can be a problem, but among patients who are highly motivated, disulfiram can be very effective.
Behavioral treatments help patients engage in the treatment process by modifying their attitudes and behaviors related to drug abuse besides increasing healthy life skills. These treatments can also enhance the effectiveness of medications and help people stay in treatment longer. Treatment for drug abuse and addiction can be delivered in many different settings using a variety of behavioral approaches.
Outpatient behavioral treatment encompasses a wide variety of programs for patients. Most of the programs available involve individual or group drug counseling. Some programs also offer other forms of behavioral treatment such as:
- Cognitive–behavioral therapy, which seeks to help patients recognize, avoid and cope with the situations in which they are most likely to abuse drugs
- Multidimensional family therapy, which is targeting adolescents with drug abuse problems alongside their families. It addresses a range of influences on their drug abuse patterns and is designed to improve overall family functioning
- Motivational interviewing, which capitalizes on the readiness of individuals to change their behavior and enter treatment
- Motivational incentives also known as contingency management, which uses positive reinforcement to encourage abstinence from drugs
Residential treatment programs can also be very effective, especially for those with more severe problems. For example, therapeutic communities (TCs) are highly structured programs in which patients remain at a residence, typically for 6 to 12 months. TCs differ from other treatment approaches principally in their use of the community treatment staff and those in recovery as a key agent of change to influence patient attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors associated with drug use.
We conclude with the treatment in a criminal justice setting which is tailored into succeeding in preventing an offender’s return to criminal behavior, particularly when treatment continues as the person transitions back into the community. Finally with these effective approaches for drug addiction treatment, you can call on doctor Akoury for professional help by scheduling for an appointment so that your concerns can be addressed effectively and professionally.