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Pharmacotherapy For Addiction

Benefits Of Pharmacotherapy

Drug and alcohol treatment must involve a variety of therapies for addiction because it is so rampant. One of the most prevalent addictions involves alcohol. This is no surprise because it is readily available and highly addictive. A pharmacological approach to treatment can have positive results.


Treating Opiate, Tabacco and Alcohol Abuse

Pharmacotherapy uses drugs within addiction treatment to encourage abstinence from a substance. Pharmacotherapy can be used to accomplish the following as it pertains to drug and alcohol treatment:


  • Reverse the effect that a substance has on an individual
  • Manage withdrawal symptoms
  • Minimize cravings
  • Treat psychiatric symptoms brought on by substance abuse
  • Address co-occurring disorders

Opiate Pharmacotherapy 


Pharmacotherapy uses various medications which are specific to the drug of abuse, whether it be an addiction to alcohol, opiates or tobacco. If a person is addicted to opiates, pharmacotherapy may involve the use of the following drugs:


Methadone is a long-acting synthetic agonist. It is effective in treating cravings and symptoms associated with withdrawal. When used with a maintenance program, this drug is most effective when paired with behavioral therapies for addiction. Methadone can be addictive so it can only be administered through a prescription and closely monitored by a doctor.

Buprenorphine is similar to methadone in that it reduces cravings and lessens the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. This medication is a partial agonist. This basically means that the euphoria and respiratory depression is less than other abused drugs.

Naltrexone is a drug that works to block the euphoric feelings and cravings associated with substance abuse. It is administered after detoxification is complete.

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Tobacco Pharmacotherapy 


Tobacco is one of the most addictive substances that people struggle with. In addition to being addicted, tobacco users continue to use because they fear weight gain and depression will set in if they quit. Fortunately, many users understand the harmful effects of tobacco addiction and have a desire to quit. When using pharmacotherapy to treat alcohol addiction, the drugs that are most commonly used for treatment are:


  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy is used to deliver a dose of nicotine in the form of patches, intermittent formulations to include gums, lozenges, sprays or oral films. The idea behind this is that the amount of nicotine can be gradually decreased until the craving ceases.
  • Bupropion
  • Varenicline



Alcohol Pharmacotherapy 


These drugs work to reduce the intense cravings felt by alcohol users. The cravings can be so intense that a smoker will take a break and drop everything they are doing just to smoke. These medications lessen such cravings and help the sufferer power through it.

Alcohol is another substance that leads to addiction and has many people in its clutches. Pharmacotherapy uses several medications to manage an alcohol addiction. The most popular medications used include:

Acamprosate is effective when prescribed to individuals with severe alcohol dependence. This medication can be used to assist drinkers in abstaining from alcohol for several weeks or months.

Disulfiram reacts with the alcohol and causes a build-up of acetaldehyde. This produces uncomfortable side effects which turn people against drinking. This medication is for those who are completely committed to quitting.

Naltrexone is used to reduces cravings and pleasurable feelings brought about by drinking alcohol. It is helpful for curbing alcohol consumption but less effective in abstinence maintenance.

Benzodiazepines are used to treat withdrawal symptoms that can happen with an abrupt stop to drinking alcohol. It lessens the chances of having severe withdrawal symptoms such as seizures, high blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia, delirium tremens episodes, and tachycardia.


There are many therapies for addiction. Pharmacotherapy can be an invaluable treatment method to get on the path to recovery. Drug and alcohol treatment in Huntington Beach, CA can help you beat addiction and get your life back.

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