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The 6 Most Popular Medications Used for Addiction Treatment

There are many different treatments and therapies available that individuals can use to overcome addiction and achieve lasting sobriety. More often than not we associate such treatments with things like counseling, psychotherapy, group sessions, and skills-building, but there are a wide variety of therapies beyond just the quintessential recovery offerings.

For example, there are a number of addiction recovery methods that utilize special medications as part of the treatment process. Although some such programs might be considered unconventional or even controversial, in many instances these medication-assisted treatments allow individuals to overcome alcoholism and drug addiction when they hadn’t been able to do so using other methods.

When choosing the right treatments or recovery program, it’s important for individuals to have a thorough knowledge of the features of and differences between the available options. For those individuals who are considering a form a treatment that utilizes medication as part of the recovery process, here are six popular drug detox medications that are used in addiction treatment today.

#1 – Methadone

One of the first addiction-related medications that comes to mind for most is methadone. Known for its use in many opioid replacement therapy programs, methadone acts on and binds to the brain’s opioid receptors, essentially filling an individual’s need for opioid drugs. For those who are addicted to heroin, prescription painkillers, and/or other opioid substances, methadone doesn’t have the same intoxicating effect, which is why many individuals who are unable to afford treatment or otherwise unable to attend a lengthy residential program will often begin methadone maintenance at a nearby methadone clinic.

One of the most notable characteristics of methadone is its remarkably long half-life. With a half-life of between 13 and 47 hours—depending on factors such as one’s body size and type, dosage, and so on, individuals can subsist on just one dose of methadone per day instead of several times throughout the day as is the case with street opioids. However, methadone is highly controversial since individuals who are on methadone maintenance are still technically dependent on the methadone, which means that rather than overcoming dependency completely such programs could be considered more so a form of harm reduction than recovery.

#2 – Suboxone & Subutex (Buprenorphine)

Most people are familiar with buprenorphine under its more well-known trade names, Suboxone and Subutex. However, the two forms are different in that Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, which acts as an opioid blocker and will be described in more depth below. Similar to methadone, buprenorphine is frequently used as an opioid replacement drug and has been found to significantly reduce withdrawal symptoms, making it popular for temporary use in medically-supervised detox programs.

Buprenorphine is a newer drug than methadone, has been found to have somewhat less potential for abuse, and can be prescribed by most general practitioners and primary care physicians, which gives more people access to forms of addiction treatment. Additionally, it’s faster-acting than methadone, meaning that a therapeutic dose can be achieved faster. It’s also become more common for individuals in long-term replacement therapy programs to prefer buprenorphine over methadone; however, buprenorphine tends to be much more expensive than methadone, which can deter some individuals from using it.

#3 – Narcan (Naloxone)

In short, naloxone—more widely known by its trade name Narcan—is a medication that’s able to block and reverse the effects of opiates, which has made it one of the primary tools for emergency responders who are trying to treat or prevent an opioid overdose. When emergency first-responders reach an individual who is overdosing on heroin or another opioid in sufficient time, naloxone can effectively reverse the overdose and save the individual’s life. There have been a variety of recent bills pass through Congress that have suggested naloxone be made readily available to all emergency personnel such as police officers and first-responders.

#4 – Antabuse (Disulfiram)

Sometimes prescribed to individuals who suffer from alcoholism, Antabuse blocks a particular enzyme in the body from metabolizing alcohol, causing very unpleasant or even violent sickness if an individual taking this medication were to consume alcohol. As such, Antabuse is used in what’s referred to as aversion therapy, which means that an undesired behavior causes an unpleasant reaction in order to deter an individual from continuing that behavior. When combined with behavioral modification, counseling, psychotherapy, and support groups, Antabuse can be used to great effect for individuals who are at very little risk of relapsing.

#5 – Vivitrol & Revia (Naltrexone)

Similar to Narcan, naltrexone is most frequently associated with its ability to treat opioid withdrawal and overdose. More specifically, naltrexone is used to prevent individuals from relapsing as it’s an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioid drugs. Additionally, individuals who take naltrexone have been found to have a diminished desire to abuse opioids, which has led to it sometimes being used in the early stages of detoxification in supervised detox programs. However, naltrexone is unique from other substances on this list because it treats both opioid addiction and alcoholism. Since alcohol activates the same reward and pleasure pathways in the brain as opioids, naltrexone has been found to diminish the effects of and cravings for alcohol in individuals who take the substance orally.

#6 – Zyban & Wellbutrin (Bupropion)

Although bupropion is most widely known today under its trade name Wellbutrin as a popular medication for the treatment of depression and certain mood disorders, bupropion was originally developed as a medication for the treatment of nicotine addiction. The form of bupropion that is used for the treatment of addiction is called Zyban, which was approved by the FDA for the treatment of nicotine and tobacco addiction in 1997 before it was discovered that the substance could also treat several mood disorders. Additionally, bupropion has been found to reduce cravings for tobacco, alleviate withdrawal symptoms, and can be safely taken with many substances used in replacement therapies.

Need to Find a Detox Center? Call Us Now

There are different tools available to individuals suffering from addiction, including popular drug detox medications that can help alleviate some of the uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal. However, what works for one individual may not be the best option for others, which is why it’s important for each person to identify their specific needs in order to find the treatments that best address those needs. If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction and would benefit from learning more about recovery, Drug Treatment Center Finder is here to help. With just a brief consultation and assessment, you or your loved one could be on the path toward a life of happiness, fulfillment, and sobriety. Don’t wait—call us at 1-855-619-8070 today.