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The New Trends in Addiction Treatment: Part 2

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The volume of patients entering treatment in the last decade has continued to steadily rise. In response the quantity of treatment centers and the variety of services offered has risen. In the 21st century it has become clear that addiction can reach the rich and famous, nobody is completely risk-free. In the ensuing rise in demand for treatment centers, the researchers and directors of addiction treatment programs have started to shape their agendas to best serve their patients. Twenty years ago, relatively little was known about addiction as a disease and how drugs and alcohol interact with the brain in a psychobiological manner. With the advent of new technology and medicine, new ways to treat addiction and heal the addicted brain have arisen. Doctors are looking to new breakthroughs in the medical and technological field to incorporate into traditional treatment methods. Some of these new practices may just change the way we view addiction treatment forever. This installment will look at the medical advancements emerging in healthcare and addiction treatment.

New Medical Breakthroughs

The last decade has seen an increasing number of addiction treatment centers rely on the medical path to treat addiction. While therapy, social integration, and recovery groups remain an important part of addiction treatment, new developments in medicine have added a new tool in fighting addiction. If you believe that addiction is in fact a disease, physical or mental, then it would only make sense that medicine could be effective in treating such an illness.

With the epidemic of prescription opiate and heroin addiction increasing, some of the newest medical breakthroughs have been in the field of dopamine blocking drugs. These drugs seek to block the opiate receptors in the brain that are activated by drugs such as alcohol, hydrocodone, and heroin. Opiate blockers prevent opiate abusers from receiving the pleasurable effects that drive them to use drugs. By blocking the receptors, it is proposed that the addict’s craving and obsession to use will be reduced. The most popular of these blockers is a chemical called Naloxone, which is available in both oral and injectable forms. Many addiction professionals prefer the injectable method since it only requires monthly administration, compared to the daily requirement of oral pills. The injectable form of this drug goes by the name of Vivitrol, and is quickly becoming commonplace in the field of addiction treatment. It serves as a deterrent against using drugs such like alcohol and heroin. Drugs like Vivitrol are starting to replace the usage of medicines like Suboxone and Methadone. Many treatment centers, including NewBridge, are combing traditional therapy and support groups with medicine like Vivitrol to give their patients the greatest chance of staying sober.

Another recent medical trend has been the emergency of a life-saving drug that goes by the tradename Narcan or Evzio. Simply, this is an injectable drug that can prevent overdoses of opiate related drugs such as heroin and prescription pills. Narcan works by instantly clearing the opiate receptors of the brain, reversing the effects of opiate releasing drugs. In the event of an overdose, Narcan is able to be administered and stop the physical effects of opiate overdose, which can include heart failure, asphyxiation, and death. The recent rise in opiate related deaths nationwide, especially in Florida, have led to an increase in demand for Narcan and Evzio. Last year in Florida there were 447 deaths related to heroin, almost double the deaths from 2013. Fentanyl, a popular prescription opiate, was responsible for more than 538 deaths, an 84 percent increase from 2013. The fatal reality of these drugs have been responsible for the popularity of medicine like Narcan and Vivitrol.

Other drugs that are gaining traction in addiction treatment are the medicines Campral and Gabapentin. Campral is a drug that works to stimulate the reward centers of the brain by elevating levels of a brain chemical known as GABA. It has been found that Campral combined with Naloxone can give patients an increased chance of staying abstinent. It is quickly becoming a preferred drug in the treatment of alcoholism. Gabapentin is another medical drug that is becoming popular among treatment centers and physicians. While it was originally used to treat epilepsy, doctors have found it effective against pain, anxiety, and even insomnia. For a patient coming off of narcotics, a drug like Gabapentin can help relieve many of the symptoms of acute and post-acute withdrawal.



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