Commonly Asked Questions about Addiction and Treatment
What is drug addiction commonly called in the mental health fields?
In the mental health field, drug addiction is commonly referred to as a "Substance Use Disorder" (SUD). This term is used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), which is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the United States.
A Substance Use Disorder is defined as a pattern of behaviors characterized by an inability to control or cut down on use, spending a lot of time obtaining the substance, craving the substance, failing to fulfill obligations at work, school, or home due to substance use, and continuing to use the substance despite knowing it's causing physical or psychological harm.
Substance Use Disorders can be further categorized based on the specific substance involved, such as Alcohol Use Disorder, Opioid Use Disorder, Cannabis Use Disorder, and so forth. The severity of the disorder is also assessed (mild, moderate, or severe) based on the number of diagnostic criteria met by an individual.
It's worth noting that this terminology emphasizes the understanding of drug addiction as a medical disorder, rather than a moral failing or a matter of willpower. This shift in language is part of a larger effort to reduce stigma and promote a more compassionate, effective approach to treatment.
What is the purpose of drugs such as methadone, suboxone and subutex in the recovery process?
Methadone, Suboxone (a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone), and Subutex (buprenorphine) are medications used in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorders. Their primary purpose in the recovery process is to help manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings, facilitating a safer, more comfortable transition to abstinence or long-term management of the disorder. Here's a more detailed look at how each of these medications function:
Methadone: Methadone is a long-acting opioid agonist, which means it activates the same receptors in the brain that other opioids like heroin, morphine, or prescription painkillers do. However, it does so more slowly and for a longer duration, without causing the intense euphoria associated with misuse of those drugs. This helps to mitigate withdrawal symptoms and cravings, enabling individuals to function more normally in daily life.
Suboxone: Suboxone contains two active ingredients: buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it activates the opioid receptors in the brain, but to a lesser extent than full agonists like heroin or methadone. This can help manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms without producing the high associated with opioid misuse. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it blocks the effects of opioids. It's included in Suboxone to discourage misuse of the medication; if someone tries to inject Suboxone, the naloxone will trigger withdrawal symptoms.
Subutex: Subutex is the brand name for buprenorphine alone. Like in Suboxone, buprenorphine in Subutex serves to lessen withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. It is typically used in the initial stages of treatment, while Suboxone is more commonly used for maintenance.
These medications are typically used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes counseling and behavioral therapies. It's important to note that while these medications can be highly effective in supporting recovery, they should be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider due to the risk of misuse and potential side effects. Each individual's treatment plan should be tailored to their unique needs and circumstances to ensure the best possible outcomes.
What will a rehab do to help me get through my withdrawal symptoms?
Rehabilitation centers use a combination of medical, psychological, and supportive care to help you manage and overcome withdrawal symptoms during the detoxification stage of recovery. Here's what you can expect:
Medical Supervision and Care: During withdrawal, you'll be under the constant care of medical professionals who monitor your vital signs and general health. This is crucial because withdrawal from certain substances can be life-threatening.
Medication-Assisted Treatment: Depending on the substance you're withdrawing from and the severity of your symptoms, the medical team may administer medications to alleviate discomfort and reduce cravings. For example, methadone or buprenorphine might be used for opioid withdrawal, while benzodiazepines might be used for alcohol withdrawal.
Psychological Support: Mental health professionals provide psychological support during withdrawal. This might include individual counseling, group therapy, or cognitive-behavioral techniques to help manage cravings and cope with the emotional stress of withdrawal.
Comfort Measures: Rehab centers often use comfort measures to help manage withdrawal symptoms. These might include a quiet and comfortable room to rest in, nutritional support, hydration, and complementary therapies such as acupuncture, massage, or yoga.
Preparation for Ongoing Treatment: Detox and withdrawal management are just the first steps in the recovery process. While helping you through withdrawal, staff at the rehab center will also be preparing you for the next phases of treatment, which may include therapy, medication management, and skill-building to maintain long-term sobriety.
Peer Support: Many rehab centers facilitate peer support groups, where you can share experiences and coping strategies with others who are going through a similar process.