What are the benefits of medication management in treatment services and how does it affect after-care treatment for individuals?

Medication assisted treatment can be a highly effective way to prevent ongoing substance use disorders and save lives. In combination with behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support, medication management of alcohol use disorder can lead to a faster, more effective, and less stressful recovery.

What does Medication Management Do for Alcohol Use Disorder?

Medication assistance, in combination with counseling, can help make the temptation to drink easier to resist. Alcoholism treatment medications can block specific reward receptors in the brain, which makes alcohol and the consumption of alcohol much less appealing.

Medications for the treatment of alcohol use disorder may work by occupying specific brain receptors that are associated with alcohol. These medications, known as agonists or partial agonists, stop the brain from feeling reward associated with alcohol use. The end result is that the person no longer desires alcohol like he or she used to. Because the brain is no longer registering reward based on alcohol use, it begins to balance itself out again and recreate natural reward pathways without alcohol.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has found strong evidence that medically assisted treatment can help create faster recovery, less early relapse, and provide significant cost savings in the long-term. When it comes to alcohol dependence and alcohol use disorder, patients were better able to prevent long-term inpatient care through the use of medication management.

Studies also show that medications are greatly underused in the treatment of alcohol dependence and alcohol abuse. Nearly 10 to 20 percent of all patients who see a primary care physician or must enter hospital care have some type of alcohol use disorder. Sadly, up to 18 million people meet the criteria for alcohol use disorders in the United States alone. Only 1.4 million of those people ever receive treatment, which includes peer-facilitated 12-step groups. Many doctors and individuals remain in the dark about the benefits and importance of medication in the treatment of alcohol-related disorders, despite their clear benefits.

In some cases, individuals feel the sharp stigma that is often associated with alcoholism, despite the fact that the American Medical Association has repeatedly identified alcohol use disorder as a physiological health condition. For some patients, medication management can help ease the burden of perceived stigma and lead to a faster return to normal life.

Dual Diagnosis and Alcohol Use Disorder

A dual diagnosis occurs when a person receives a diagnosis of both an addiction and some type of mental health disorder. Conditions such as anxiety and depression are very common when alcoholism is present. In other cases, conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, and even schizophrenia are among the endless combinations of complications that persons with alcohol use disorder may also know all too well.

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When a person has two challenges like a mental health concern and an alcohol use problem, medication management of one or more symptoms may be a good idea. Each person is unique and must spend time with an experienced doctor or mental health professional to discuss potential solutions, but many complicated ailments may be better managed and cared for with some supporting medical intervention.

Medication management is key to monitoring and maintaining a full recovery. The best way to achieve wellness is to work with a trusted medical team who have experience and understanding of substance use problems and all of the stressors that come with them. The right medical team can help you feel comfortable, achieve recovery faster, and maintain that recovery for a longer period of time. Please call us today to learn more about medication management of problematic drinking. Our experienced team members are happy to help you find the recovery you seek.

Article written by Foundations Recovery Network

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