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Dependence on Addiction Treatment Medications

Addiction treatment medications are a group of drugs that are used as part of a recovery program from drug addiction or alcoholism. These drugs are designed to produce a variety of effects intended to help a person stop using. These include the elimination or reduction of withdrawal symptoms, the treatment of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome symptoms, blocking the user’s ability to “get high,” and in some cases creating unpleasant side effects if the medicated individual uses a drug like morphine or alcohol. However, despite their widespread clinical use, it is just as possible to become addicted to addiction treatment medications as it is to become addicted to illicit street drugs. This is a problem that is growing in scope each year as more and more of these medications are prescribed.

One of the most addictive addiction treatment medications is methadone, which is closely related to a similar drug called suboxone or buprenorphine. Both of these drugs have been shown to provide benefits for people suffering from addiction to opiates like morphine, heroin, and prescription drugs such as Oxycontin. They work by reducing the symptoms of Acute Withdrawal Syndrome and by reducing or preventing the user’s ability to obtain a euphoric high if they use other opiates. However, methadone itself produces a high for many people, and even in cases where it does not addiction to methadone is still a real threat. According to the entry for Methadone in Wikipedia:

“As with other opioid medications, tolerance and dependence usually develop with repeated doses. There is some clinical evidence that tolerance to analgesia is less with methadone compared to other opioids; this may be due to its activity at the NA receptor. Tolerance to the different physiological effects of methadone varies; tolerance to both analgesic properties and euphoria develops quickly, whereas tolerance to constipation, sedation, and respiratory depression develops slowly (if ever).” (1)

Detractors of methadone and suboxone programs often quote the lack of motivation that methadone use provides to quit using drugs altogether, as well as the potential for continued abuse as a major drawback to these types of addiction treatment medication programs. However, despite the fact that dependence on these drugs may occur, supporters point out that the use of drugs like methadone and buprenorphine help to eliminate drug seeking behavior and the associated criminal activity that goes with it.

Alcoholism is often treated using various medications, including Acamprosate and a new drug called Topiramate. Additionally, the early stages of treatment for alcoholism may call for the use of benzodiazepines to relax the patient and curb potentially dangerous withdrawal syndrome symptoms. However, addiction to these drugs is possible as well. Although rare, some individuals may abuse Acamprosate and become dependent on the drug. According to the Drug Rehab Wiki for Acamprosate;

“Abuse of Acamprosate can easily occur if the drug is taken too long or in too high of doses. The withdrawal process can be life-threatening if it drives the individual back to intense alcohol intake.”

But while this may be an unlikely possibility, addiction to the benzodiazepines often used in the early stages of treatment for alcoholism is a very real threat, as these drugs – such as Valium and Xanax – can be extremely addictive. Therefore they are almost always used as part of a closely managed alcoholism treatment program.

Ultimately, when taken long enough nearly any drug can lead to addiction. Substituting one drug for another is not a wise or effective form of long term addiction treatment. If this is happening to you, you could be in danger of serious complications, felony criminal charges as a result of misusing a controlled substance, and severe relapse. Don’t change what you’re addicted to – change your behavior instead, with our help. Call us no matter where you are, at any time of night or day. We have addiction experts available right now who can help guide you with a free, confidential consultation. Don’t wait a moment longer.

(1) Wikipedia Methadone: Tolerance and Dependence

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More