Think of drug addiction as being like heart disease. A pill alone won’t solve the problem and, usually, neither will changing diet, reducing stress and getting more exercise. Medication is an essential part of treatment and so is lifestyle change. Taken together, major improvements become possible and patients are able to enjoy a normal, productive life without disability.
Just as there are medications available to help people with diabetes maintain a healthy blood sugar level, and to help people with high blood pressure keep their numbers in a healthy range, we now have medications that are scientifically proven effective at treating drug addiction. These new drugs target drug addiction at the source, by reducing cravings and helping soothe the symptoms of withdrawal. This helps the person in treatment focus on other topics beyond the drug problem, enabling him or her to get back to a normal life.
Drug addiction causes brain changes at the neurochemical level. Medications address this problem by activating the dopamine pathway in the brain, which has been altered by drug addiction. Here’s how that happens:
Dopamine is a neurochemical (literally, a chemical in your brain) that motivates you to do things that make you feel good. In a healthy person, the brain produces dopamine, carried by transporters to dopamine receptors (literally, where dopamine is “received” by the brain).
Drug addiction floods the system with too much dopamine. Though drug addicts no longer feel “good” when using their drug of choice, their brain circuits have been changed so that they keep pushing out more dopamine, which has nowhere to go. A person who is addicted to drugs is producing anywhere from two to 10 times as much dopamine as a healthy person.
Using the “drug of choice” is the only way a person with drug addiction knows to calm this process down– but the fix is only temporary. The cravings return and grow in intensity. For people with drug addiction, medication-assisted therapy helps eliminate cravings by reducing dopamine production. That is why it is such an important piece of an effective drug addiction treatment program.
In our Manage Addiction Lifeline program, we use only medications that have been found safe and clinically effective in treating drug addiction.
Though every person’s treatment is personalized, the medications we use most often in our program include:
Buprenorphine, sometimes with Naloxone and sometimes withoutNaltrexoneMethadone
Though drug addiction is a recognized disease accompanied by specific symptoms, effective treatment must address each person’s unique and highly individualized needs. All of the medications that we use in our program are proven safe for both short– and long-term use.
How long each patient remains on medication varies depending on his or her needs. For many people who don’t have a long history of drug abuse, medication will be used for just a short period of time. Others may need medication for months, a year, several years or even for the rest of their lives.
A key reason why it is so hard to move past drug addiction is because the person with the addiction is unable to think about anything else besides getting the drug they need to feed the craving. The craving takes over the mind, making it impossible to focus on loved ones, job responsibilities and doing all the other activities that make for a healthy life.
By calming the cravings, medication-assisted therapy empowers the person with addiction to also address the other problems in his or her life. The behavioral therapy components of our program, peer support and family counseling are designed to help solve some of the issues that created the vulnerability to addiction. Our emphasis on recovery counseling and coaching enable people to plan their post-treatment lives in a way that ensures they will stay healthy and drug-free.
From day one on the Lifeline, I did not feel alone with my addiction anymore. Every single day, I was communicating with my medical team – giving and getting so much valuable information and insight on a daily basis.
Sharing my daily life, past history and future hopes and dreams with my therapist through guided journaling has really helped me discover my true self and become mindful of how I live each day.
Dr. Raj’s Lifeline helped our family recover – not just my husband I love so dearly. We actually had family video conferences with him and his therapist during 12-week program.
Looking back, I can hardly believe how self-absorbed & deluded I was – dealing out the daily lies & excuses to feed my addiction. Today, my relationships are more honest, open & caring.
The Emotional Social Competency curriculum we worked on in week 5 of treatment was incredibly revealing – what I learned made a big difference in interacting with co-workers and forwarding my career.
Don’t wait for the app. We’re here – right now – and ready to help you battle addiction starting today.