Addiction Help: Medication options for addiction treatment — Are we trading one addiction for another?

Counseling Service of Addison County and The Addison County Committee on Opiate Addiction have teamed to put together a series of articles for our community this summer. Our hope is that this column offers information, support and hope for addiction recovery, specifically opiate addiction (heroin/painkillers).
This week’s writer is Jessi de Boer, who is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor and a licensed clinical mental health counselor, is coordinator of Adult Recovery Services at CSAC.
Medications are used to help support recovery for tobacco, alcohol and opiate addictions. Of course, the best way to avoid needing a medication for addiction treatment is to prevent addiction in the beginning. Remember to talk to your loved ones about family history, talk to your doctor about potential addiction risks with medication, discard old medications appropriately and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need support.
We have shared a great deal of information about opiate addiction and how it is treated. Suboxone is the name of a medication used in Medication Assisted Treatment for opiate addiction recovery (the generic name is Buprenorphine). Medications combined with therapy and life style change have shown to be the best treatment for life-long, persistent diseases like Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease. Addiction also responds best to this type of treatment.
For Type 2 Diabetes medications are taken in combination with a plan to change life style including increased exercise and diet planning. For addiction medication helps to heal the brain so that the person in recovery can work on life style changes such as making new friends, going new places and trying new substance free-activities. For someone who has diabetes it is tough to stay away from the ice cream and candies at times… they might find just as people who have addiction do that the medication helps but they also need to change where they go and what they do to feel better.
Suboxone is a medication that helps some of the physical symptoms of this disease so that people can focus on making those social changes. Suboxone helps with craving for other opiates and it prevents those horrible withdrawal symptoms similar to food poisoning mixed with the flu that people with opiate addiction experience. When the cravings and sickness are under control the person with addiction can focus on therapy and changing their lifestyle.
When we think about tobacco use it is very common to quit with the support of nicotine patches or gum. Those options are a mediation assisted treatment for nicotine. Some people can quit on their own and never go back to smoking; others greatly benefit from the medication and see long-term recovery with the help of medication.
Some people are worried that medications are simply replacing one drug for another. Here in Addison County Counseling Service of Addison County (CSAC) and Porter Medical Center have partnered to provide medication assisted treatment at Bristol Internal Medicine. This program requires counseling, random drug testing, medication counts and regular doctor visits. When this treatment is done well it really is not replacing one drug for another. It is replacing use with treatment. This program also provides Vivitrol and naloxone, two medications that also help with addiction. This medication is not just another drug when combined with intensive treatment for lifestyle change.
There are some people who have addiction who take this medication long-term. Just like with diabetes and heart disease we offer the medication as long as it is needed for best treatment. We would never say to a person who has Type 2 Diabetes, “Get your diet and exercise under control and in six months, no more insulin.” In fact, many people with chronic allergies, high blood pressure and heart disease are on medication treatments for the rest of their life. This disease can be similar for some people.
There are medication supports for addictions to tobacco, alcohol and opiates (painkillers/heroin). For more information or for help today go online to addictionhelpvt.com.

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