What’s the Difference Between Medication Assisted Treatment and Addiction?

Those who have been there will agree that one of the hardest parts of overcoming addiction is getting through detox, which is the body’s way of ridding itself of not only drugs or alcohol but also other harmful contaminants. And this has a lot do to with the severe withdrawal symptoms that start to present themselves when an individual stops using. This sentiment is one that is also shared by physicians and addiction experts who have witnessed first-hand the struggles that many have faced as they try to overcome addiction at a licensed rehab facility.

In many cases, the withdrawal symptoms that many individuals encounter is what drives them to forgo rehab and return to a life of substance abuse. To put this into perspective, a 2014 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that 40 to 60 percent of individuals admitted to rehab for help overcoming a substance abuse problem relapsed before ever completing the program. And many cited their struggles with severe withdrawal symptoms while going through detox as the reason for doing so.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms Associated With Drug or Alcohol Cessation

Whether an individual is trying to end their relationship with drugs or alcohol, most will encounter the following symptoms while going through detox:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Memory problems
  • Lack of focus
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Profuse sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Muscle pain

It is important to note that the onset of these symptoms can vary depending on the individual’s choice in substances and also how long they have been using. Further, those who are detoxing from opioids, alcohol, or tranquilizers may also encounter the following:

  • Delirium tremens
  • Grand mal seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke

The Role of Medication-Assisted Detox in Addiction Recovery

To make getting through detox easier for those who are ready to break the cycle of addiction, many rehab facilities will offer medically-assisted detox. This aspect of addiction recovery includes round-the-clock monitoring by a physician and prescription medications to ease severe withdrawal symptoms, some of which include

  • Suboxone
  • Naltrexone
  • Methadone
  • Disulfiram
  • Gabapentin
  • Bupropion
  • Baclofen
  • Provigil
  • Remeron

Can Prescription Medications Prescribed to Combat Withdrawal Symptoms Lead to a New Addiction?

One of the chief concerns that many individuals have before starting a medically-assisted detox program is whether or not doing so will lead to a new addiction. After all, substituting one addiction for another would defeat the purpose of starting such a program in the first place. For those who share this concern, you should know that there are quite a few distinct differences between prescription medications used as part of a medically-assisted detox program compared to drugs used to achieve a euphoric high.

The medications used in a medically-assisted detox program at a licensed rehab facility are all approved by the Food and Drug Administration to relieve severe withdrawal symptoms. And they all carry a relatively low risk for addiction when taken as prescribed. To further illustrate both of these points, let’s look at Suboxone, which happens to be a go-to medication for rehab facilities that treat individuals trying to overcome an addiction to opioids.

How Suboxone Helps Ease Opioid-Related Withdrawal Symptoms

For the last few years, Suboxone has been a go-to for rehab facilities that treat individuals trying to end an addiction to opioids. In short, Suboxone is a long-acting prescription opioid that helps eases the symptoms associated with coming off of short-acting opioids, such as morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and heroin. Some of the withdrawal symptoms specifically correlated with opioid cessation include anxiety, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.

Suboxone, which is a mixture of two medications, Buprenorphine and Naltrexone, acts as a partial opioid agonist in that it blocks long-acting opioids from binding to opioid receptors in the brain. In turn, this not only eliminates withdrawal symptoms but also reduces cravings. And because Suboxone is a long-acting and partial opioid agonist, it triggers a less euphoric high compared to that of short-acting opioids, which means the risk of addiction quite low.

It should be noted that the other FDA-approved medications mentioned in this article work the same way in that they relieve severe withdrawal symptoms while posing a low risk for addiction.

Bottom Line

While not always necessary, prescription medication can make it significantly easier for some people to get through detox and to break the cycle of addiction once and for all. To learn more about medication-assisted detox or for help finding a rehab facility in your area, consider speaking with one of our friendly addiction experts today at 833-762-3739.