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Medical detoxification (often simply referred to as detox) is needed for some addictions such as severe alcohol abuse. Detox is indicated only for some types of substance abuse. When needed, detox is only the first stage of addiction treatment and without further treatment does little to change long-term drug use. During medical detoxification, the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal associated with discontinuation of drug use are safely treated. This alone is rarely sufficient to help people with addictions in the long term, but for some individuals, it is a precursor to effective drug-addiction treatment.
Medications are an important element of therapy for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies. Methadone, buprenorphine (Suboxone), and levo-alpha-acetylmethadol (LAAM) can be prescribed for individuals addicted to heroin or other opiates. Naltrexone can be prescribed for some people addicted to alcohol and those with co-occurring opiate and alcohol dependence. Acamprosate (Campral) is an agent to help in maintaining abstinence in people with alcohol dependency. A nicotine replacement product (such as patches or gum) or an oral medication (such as bupropion) can be an effective component of therapy for people addicted to nicotine. For people with psychiatric disorders, both behavioral treatments and medications can be critically important.
At the current time, there is no indication for surgery for any type of substance or alcohol abuse or addiction.
Behavioral therapy or counseling may be used to accomplish the following:
Family members, friends and coworkers can play critical roles in motivating individuals with drug problems to enter and stay in treatment. Family therapy is often important, especially for adolescents. Involvement of a family member in an individual's treatment program can strengthen and extend the benefits of the program.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/4/2016
Maureen C Nash, MD, MS
Jessica B Johnson
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