The Use of Psychotropic Drugs in Substance Abuse Treatment

The Use of Psychotropic Drugs in Substance Abuse Treatment | Transcend Recovery Community

Addiction treatment often includes medication, including psychotropic medication. Even though you might expect anti-anxiety or anti-depressants to treat only mental illness, they are also used to facilitate the process of withdrawal from addiction and sobriety.

Psychotropic medication can alleviate many psychological symptoms, which is why they are commonly used not only for depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, but also to alleviate the discomforts of addiction treatment. They can help alleviate conditions such as an inability to concentration, sleeplessness, paranoia, hallucinations, manic states, moodiness, or depression. These drugs can significantly improve mood, health, well-being and quality of life for individuals who suffer from these conditions as well those who are having a challenging time with the beginning stages of their recovery.

Along these lines, there are many recovering addicts who find that there are in fact mental illnesses lying beneath their addictions. As their addiction wanes and as they begin to physically improve, they may experience anxiety, states of depression, moodiness, or other symptoms, such as those described above. In these cases, psychotropic medication might also be useful and prescribed as a part of their addiction treatment.

There are a variety of antidepressants that are used for different psychological disorders, depending upon a person’s needs and circumstances. For example, MAOIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors) were the first class of anti-depressants to be developed. They increase levels of norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine by inhibiting an enzyme called monoamine oxidase. TCAs (Tricyclic Antidepressants) work by increasing the levels of norepinephrine as well as serotonin, but to a lesser degree. SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) increase the levels of serotonin, which can ease depressive symptoms. SSRIs are incredibly effective, but they do come with risks. They can cause suicidal thoughts and even attempts at suicide. SNRIs (Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors) are a new class of anti-depressants. They differ from SSRIs in that they increase levels of both serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. They have similar side effects to SSRIs as well.

In addition to anti-depressants, there are also anti-anxiety medications. One of the most common anti-anxiety drugs used in drug treatment is benzodiazepines. They have been very effective in treating alcohol withdrawal syndrome. The risk with benzodiazepines, however, is that they are highly addictive and have severe withdrawal symptoms. And for this reason, researchers are exploring other forms of treatment for the alcohol withdrawal process. The benefit to benzodiazepines is that if a recovering addict can take them as prescribed, they usually pose the risk of addiction and instead, the medication greatly facilitates their alcohol detox process. However, if an addiction does develop, the withdrawal process from benzodiazepines can be severe.

Other types of medication used to aid the psychological withdrawal experience include anti-seizure and mood stabilizing drugs. It’s important to know that you can be actively involved in the conversation with your doctor about what drug you’re using, the symptoms you’re experiencing and whether or not it’s working in your life. Perhaps knowing the traits of an ideal drug would help. These include:

  • Do a good job of reducing or eliminating symptoms.
  • Be safe in that the side effects are not harming or dangerous.
  • Not interact with other drugs, making them ineffective.
  • Not produce additional side effects.
  • Be convenient to use, such as a pill a day or with meals.
  • Be inexpensive.

If you are in the early stages of your recovery and you are experiencing significant psychological side effects, talk to your doctor, therapist, or drug counselor. There are ways to manage the psychological discomforts that come with addiction treatment.

 

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