Alcoholism and drug abuse impact close to 25 million Americans and account for more than 2 million emergency room visits each year. People who are addicted suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they go without these substances for an extended period of time. These symptoms vary depending on the substance in question, but they can include intense cravings, frustration, lack of focus, depression, tremors, hallucinations, and even seizures. Left untreated, these habits can eventually translate into serious health difficulties, financial and legal problems, relationship issues, and isolation.
Once you acknowledge your alcoholism or drug addiction, you can take steps to overcome it. One of these recovery options is treatment at a detox center, where medical experts will oversee your health as you make your way through the withdrawal process. Many specialists use medications to ease the transition to sobriety.
Physicians prescribe medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone to treat dependency on opiates that include heroin and morphine. Methadone and buprenorphine act on specific regions in the brain to reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Naltrexone is commonly used in patients who have undergone medically-assisted detoxification. The medication blocks the effects of the opioid at receptor level. Patients notice a significant reduction in cravings and are more receptive to behavioral therapy and other forms of treatment.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three medications to treat alcoholism effectively and safely. Naltrexone blocks the receptors that cause craving for alcohol. It also helps reduce the pleasure associated with alcohol consumption and lowers the risk of a relapse. Acamprosate helps manage withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, irritability, and restlessness. Disulfiram suppresses the degradation of alcohol in your body. This leads to the accumulation of acetaldehyde, causing you will experience unpleasant symptoms such as nausea and heart palpitations. The discomfort may prevent you from consuming the beverage. Another medication called topiramate is undergoing clinical trials and has shown encouraging results.
These medications have been designed to lower the stress associated with addiction treatment. You should, however, use them only under the supervision of a trained physician, for example, a medical professional working at a detox center. Discuss the side effects before starting the regimen. Learn about symptoms that warrant immediate medical attention. When combined with other forms of treatment and emotional support, medications can help you successfully overcome your addiction.
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