Addiction Treatment Medications

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Addiction Treatment Medications

Withdrawal medication, also known as anti-narcotic medication, is given to addicts who are attempting to stay sober from drugs. Cravings and withdrawal can cause relapse in people fighting addiction. These withdrawal meds can make it easier for those in recovery to stay sober, and push through recovery by avoiding crippling withdrawal symptoms.

Certain withdrawal medications can mimic the effects of addictive drugs. These help with situations such as pill addiction recovery, and can eventually lead to sober living. Most of these medications are prescribed during either an inpatient or outpatient rehab program. Doctors will typically adjust dosages, and tailor this treatment to help you obtain sobriety.

What is Withdrawal?

When someone who is addicted to drugs stops using, the body first rids itself of the drugs. This stage is called the “detox” period. Detox can last only a few days but can last up to multiple weeks depending on the drug, and how often it was used.

Withdrawal symptoms are an unfortunate side effect of detox and can often be the hardest part of recovery. During detox, different withdrawal symptoms might include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Seizures
  • Muscle aches
  • Excessive sweating

Understanding Withdrawal Medication

There are a few different medications that are used to treat different withdrawal symptoms in drug users. Withdrawal medication for drugs such as cocaine may be different than those that are helpful for opiates such as heroin, morphine, and narcotic painkillers.

Withdrawal medication for opiate and heroin treatment is usually taken as a tablet daily. Heroin and opiate withdrawal can last as long as one week, but others may have it for longer. The symptoms of withdrawal can last for months or years. Long-term withdrawal medication can stop cravings and Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome. Former users can typically take medications for as long as needed.

Some of the examples of withdrawal medication include:


These drugs are typically prescribed for individuals with anxiety, but they can also be used as drug withdrawal medication. Since anxiety and irritability are quite common during detox, benzodiazepines help to reduce these feelings during this tough time.

Anxiety is the most common symptom of withdrawal from drugs such as opiates, heroin, and cocaine. Because benzodiazepines have a sedative effect, they are also somewhat addictive which can lead to a secondary addiction. Some doctors might only prescribe benzodiazepines as a withdrawal medication as a last resort.


Drug addiction can cause you to be unable to produce natural amounts of happiness-inducing chemicals such as serotonin. This can allow you to fall into depression while in detox. This is because you have relied on drugs to keep you happy for so long. Antidepressants such as Zoloft and Prozac can help relieve these feelings. It can help you to keep yourself together until your brain can produce them on your own again.


This withdrawal medication is used to treat alcohol or opiate withdrawal. Clonidine has been proven extremely helpful to reduce the sweating, cramps, muscle aches, and anxiety that accompany withdrawal. Clonidine can also stop tremors and seizures. It is less addictive than other withdrawal medications.


Methadone is an opiate that is used as a withdrawal drug for moderate to severe opiate addictions. This withdrawal medication works by binding to the receptors that heroin and painkillers typically do. This helps suppress cravings and symptoms of withdrawal.

Although Methadone is helpful as a withdrawal medication, it also needs to be used with caution. This is because it is highly addictive. Methadone clinics dispense this withdrawal drug daily to prevent abuse. This means that because it is so addictive, it will not usually be given to addicts to take home with them.

Buprenorphine (Suboxone)

Similar to how Methadone works, buprenorphine also binds to the same receptors as heroin and painkillers. This withdrawal medication is a better choice as it has less addiction potential. Buprenorphine is also known to be taken home with users rather than being given at a clinic each day.


Naltrexone is a withdrawal medication for both opiates and alcohol. This drug stops the urge to use by activating receptors in the brain.

What to Be Aware Of

Withdrawal symptoms can vary based on how long the drugs were used, and the actual drug itself. Those who are taking drugs in high doses for long periods will have the worst symptoms.

For those who are detoxing from benzodiazepines like Valium or Xanax, it can be deadly to quit without the help of withdrawal medications. Although withdrawal from other drugs is not always life-threatening, complications can still happen. Withdrawal medication along with medical care can ensure safety while detoxing.

Effects and Abuse of Withdrawal Medication

Due to the nature of many forms of withdrawal medication, they can often be addictive. Although it seems strange that the very medication being used to support drug recovery can easily cause another addiction, it can. Therefore, it is extremely important for any person struggling with addiction who is using withdrawal medication to be properly monitored. Every addict that has chosen treatment wants to get healthy, but it is easy for someone to fall back into old ways.

Mental Illness and Withdrawal Medication

Mental illness is complicated when it comes to addiction. Specifically, because those who have anxiety and/or bipolar disorder may struggle when it comes to using benzodiazepines or methadone. Due to the addictive nature of these drugs and the feelings they produce, they are not good for mental health issues.

For example, after using benzodiazepines for long periods, they will cause their own withdrawal symptoms. This can also lead to increased anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues that may have never existed before use.

Additionally, those with physical health issues should also seek medical detox. Withdrawals can complicate problems like high blood pressure, and when taking withdrawal medications it needs to be monitored.


Although some people choose to detox on their own, this can be dangerous. This is also a more difficult option. Detoxing with withdrawal medication and your doctor is the best option.

Medical detox is the best way to get sober. This is because you will be in a safe and comfortable environment. Supervised detox with withdrawal medication can also help to avoid health issues. With your doctor present, they can check your heart rate, temperature, breathing rate, and fluid levels.

Having a doctor by your side can help to accommodate any discomfort you might feel during detox. The medical detox doctor will be able to adjust any medication doses and help with long term medication plans.

Detox is typically a part of inpatient rehab. In many cases, inpatient rehab will last from 30 to 90 days. Your first week will consist of detox, followed by weeks of behavior therapy, and other forms of helpful methods.

Payment Options

Do you want treatment but are worried about how you can pay for it? We have a team of financial professionals who provide free insurance verification. We will work with you to determine how to move forward with the treatment in a way that works for you and your financial situation.

How to Get Help

If you are struggling with addiction and considering seeking treatment, withdrawal medication might be helpful as an addition to your plan. If you are ready to change your life, our amazing staff is waiting for you. Contact us today to start on your path to recovery.

Addiction Treatment that
Just Works

Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.