Addiction is classified as a mental disorder because of the way that it can alter the brain structurally, much like other mental diseases can. Many mental disorders can be treated successfully by using medications, and addiction is no different. Several medications have been found to be useful in the treatment of addiction and are often incorporated with other forms of treatment. Through the medications used to treat drug addiction, cases of severe addiction can be dealt with in situations where other forms of treatment may not be enough.

In this article, we will look at some of the most common forms of medicinal drugs used in addiction recovery.

Opioid Addiction

Medications used to treat drug addiction are usually specific to the drug it is treating, but some medications can be used for more than one drug dependence.

Opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers are some of the most highly addictive substances there are. Cravings can still be present for years after a person has stopped abusing the drug.

To assist with severe addictions to opioids, methadone and buprenorphine are commonly given. They help by reducing cravings and symptoms that people experience after stopping heavy opioid abuse. In many cases, the individual uses the medication for drug addiction for months, sometimes years. Eventually, the dosage is reduced and the recovering addict is weaned off the medication.

Methadone is a well-known medication for drug addiction treatment. It works on the same receptors that opioids do; however, it acts on these areas at a much slower rate than other opioids. Methadone has been used an opioid dependence treatment for over 40 years.

Buprenorphine is similar so methadone in that it also activates the same receptors in the brain. It is a newer treatment than methadone only being introduced in 2002. It has been proven to be as effective as methadone as a medications used to treat drug addiction. It can be prescribed in an office setting because there is less chance for abuse of the medication.

Alcohol Addiction

Alcoholism can be a severe addiction with life-threatening implications. Withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to deal with, and so can staying sober for years after rehab. Acamprosate is a medication that is used to help with the anxiety and depression that can occur after initial treatment. It also works by reducing cravings

Disulfiram was one of the first medications used to treat drug addiction that was approved for alcohol addiction. The medication works by producing the after-effects of drinking (hangover) immediately without any of the normal relaxed feelings. It can make a person feel sick instantly.

Naltrexone has been found to be successful in treating alcohol addiction as well as other drug such as opioids. The drug blocks the pleasurable effects of alcohol and reduces the craving to drink.

Other Medications Used in Addiction Treatment

Benzodiazepine is a class of drug that works by reducing irritability and anxiety. Since these are common withdrawal symptoms from drug abuse, it is given to a wider range of addictions.

Various anti-depressants are used where they are needed to deal with the emotional slump that people experience during and after withdrawal.

Clonidine is most commonly used in both opioid and alcohol withdrawals. It helps to stop symptoms such as muscle cramps, anxiety, sweating and it can stop seizures and tremors.

While medications can greatly help certain addiction cases, it is only truly effective when combined with various forms of therapy. If you want to find help for a drug or alcohol addiction, call (877) 855-3470 to get in touch with White Sands Treatment Centers.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.