Many in the addiction and recovery communities are wary of taking/being prescribed medicine to help with cravings and other manifestations of substance use disorder. It seems counter-intuitive, especially as many Americans get hooked to pills they were prescribed in the first place. However, as both alcohol use disorder and substance use disorder are bonafide diseases, scientific and medicinal treatments are really not so out of place. Of course, many people find their answer with 12-step programs, yoga, meditation, therapy or more. However, some addicts and alcoholics may benefit from a drug that cuts down on cravings or another addiction-related drug. Of course, here at Recovery Care Partner, we recommend a holistic approach at combating addiction- medication should be paired with therapy which should be paired with meetings. This approach truly helps fight the fact that addiction affects you inside out, and affects all parts of your life. In this blog post, we will help you take a look at different addiction medications that you may be interested in, or perhaps not.
One popular and up and coming addiction drug is Naltrexone. Naltrexone falls under the class of opioid antagonists and has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of opiate addiction and alcoholism. So how does it work? Well, it works in three primary ways. It blocks the effects of the opiate, decreases the desire one has for opiates or alcohol and also interferes with desire to drink thus preventing a drinking relapse. It essentially cuts down on cravings one has for both opiates and alcohol, which is as any addict or alcoholic knows, is a big win. In terms of alcohol, it can also be administered via what is called the Sinclair Method. The Sinclair Method is a treatment for alcohol use disorder. Also known as pharmacological extinction, the method works by the addict taking naltrexone an hour before taking a drink. Woah, what? Yes, this method doesn’t revolve around abstinence. It totally may not be the right method for you, but for those who have tried it, the method has a 78 percent long-term success rate. One quarter of those doing TSM eventually become completely abstinent, the rest of the successful TSM users continue to take naltrexone prior to drinking. Another important thing to say about naltrexone is that it also comes in the form of a shot, called Vivitrol. This is known by a lot of heroin and other opiate addicts to cut down cravings, by blocking both opiates and endorphins. There are not a lot of side effects to naltrexone, it is regarded by the FDA and large scientific institutions as completely non-addictive. However, some addicts report, when taking naltrexone regularly (not just before a drink), a loss of interest/pleasure in usually enjoyable things such as eating food or having sex. This is because of the blocking of endorphins. However, if you subscribe to the Sinclair Methods or other practices in which you are not taking naltrexone regularly, this is very unlikely. Perhaps it is not for you, but with all the talk and hubbub surrounding naltrexone in the scientific community, we had to put it on our list.
Other addiction medications include bupropion (brand name- Wellbutrin) and suboxone and methadone. Bupropion is primarily used to treat cravings for nicotine and food, but in some cases has been found to cut down cravings for drugs and alcohol. Suboxone and methadone are partial opioid antagonists and opioids, respectively. However, they are considered pretty controversial because often, addicts transfer their addiction to these more legalized, less dangerous (but still highly addictive) drugs. Perhaps medication is not the treatment you are seeking, but Recovery Care Partner wants to make sure you are up to date on all cutting-edge addiction treatment- we want to make sure you have all the tools in your toolbox to treat the addiction you or a loved one are battling.