Advances in Substance Abuse Treatment: What You Need to Know

Are you or a loved one going through a substance abuse crisis? If you are, it’s important to recognize that substance abuse or addiction is not a reflection of your character. Addiction is a disease that requires treatment like any other illness. There is no singular cause for substance use, but there is hope in treatment. Pacific Ridge is a rehab center in Oregon that helps in offering treatment for substance abuse in both male and female adults.

Like any other sector in the medical world, substance abuse treatment has also experienced significant advances. These advances have made substance abuse treatment effective and the results long-lasting. Let’s find out more about these advances.

Approaches in Substance Abuse Treatment

Substance abuse is the uncontrollable seeking and use of drugs despite the health consequences in the brain, which are, unfortunately, long-lasting. Treating substance abuse is not as simple as it sounds. Users cannot just quit in a day; they need repetitive and long-term care to stop using and get the strength not to relapse. The traditional treatments include:

  • Talk therapy/counseling
  • Medication
  • Follow-ups to prevent relapse

Science has come a long way in making treatments more advanced. These include innovations like:

The NSS-2

Devices can aid in suppressing a user’s withdrawal symptoms while undergoing detoxification. A device called the NSS-2 Bridge helps to reduce the withdrawal symptoms of opioids, which are a class of pain relievers and refer to:

  • Opiates like codeine and morphine
  • Semi-synthetic opioids like heroin, oxycodone, and hydrocodone, made from natural opioids
  • Synthetic opioids made in labs, like fentanyl and tramadol

These drugs produce temporary euphoria, drowsiness, and numbness and provide temporary relief from anxiety or pain. The NSS-2 Bridge is an electrical nerve stimulator that has FDA approval. How does it operate? The device has a battery-powered chip that sends electrical impulses to stimulate some nerve cells in your brain. The NSS-2 connects to numerous parts of the body. Research shows that people who abuse opioids lose neural connections in the part of the brain that processes emotions, such as pain processing. The electrical impulses from the NSS-2 Bridge target this part of the brain, known as the amygdala. Stimulating these nerves or neurostimulation blocks pain signals and reduces withdrawal symptoms’ effects by helping your body and brain adjust to the absence of the drugs during the first few days.

Medication

Medication helps reduce or manage withdrawal symptoms from opioids and other drugs. Examples include:

  • Lofexidine

One recently approved non-opioid drug by the FDA for opioid withdrawal symptoms is Lofexidine. This drug manages symptoms like cold sensations, stomach cramps, nausea, muscle twitching or spasms, yawning, aches and pains, or insomnia after you suddenly stop using opioids. Lofexidine works by relaxing your blood vessels to allow blood to flow better and aids in re-establishing your brain function and reducing cravings to prevent relapses. Medication is available for different opioids, nicotine, and alcohol addictions. A person addicted to multiple drugs needs treatment for each substance, e.g.:

  • Opioids

Methadone and naltrexone treat opioid addictions and reduce cravings. Methadone manages substance addiction to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms from abruptly stopping the use of opioids. Naltrexone blocks the opioids’ effect at their receptor sites but helps patients who have undergone detoxification.

  • Tobacco

Nicotine replacement therapies include sprays, lozenges, patches, and gums. The FDA approved two prescription medicines for nicotine addiction, i.e., Varenicline and Bupropion. They help to prevent relapses from addicts trying to quit. This medication is more effective when used with behavioral treatments like individual and group therapy and telephone quitlines.

  • Alcohol

The three FDA-approved medications for treating alcohol addiction include:

  1. Naltrexone
  2. Acamprosate
  3. Disulfiram
  4. Topiramate (has shown tremendous promise in numerous clinical trials, and FDA has not yet approved it)

Recovery Applications

Recovery apps downloaded on iOS or Android smartphones allow you to connect to a support community. The app will enable you to meet your treatment goals regardless of how long you have stayed sober. The apps have various features, such as lessons that guide you through recovery. You can complete the assignments at your pace and take a quiz at the end of each lesson for virtual rewards.

Some apps allow you to have anonymous check-ins about your sobriety, mood, etc. These connections with others in recovery communities will enable you to stay sober. Turning on the GPS locator allows you to locate other people around you, which is helpful in a new town.

Substance abuse recovery is a long and arduous journey. It takes a long time to be completely free of addiction. Every substance addict has to be careful not to relapse by taking cautionary measures. The beauty is that science keeps making strides toward better addiction treatment methods that are more effective.

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