Blog | Drug Detox

5 Arguments for Using Meds to Fight Prescription Drug Addiction

When you have a problem with prescription medications, the last thing you want to do is take more pills. While a clean break from pharmaceuticals is often the ultimate goal in recovery, don’t ignore the helpful role some drugs play in recovery. Medications can provide a pathway to a quality of life that might not otherwise be accessible. They can be helpful in detox, early treatment, long-term care, and overall addiction and mental health management.

5 Reasons for MAT:

  1. They help manage detox
  2. They help ease early treatment
  3. They help with treating chronic conditions
  4. They help long-term recovery management
  5. They help improve mental health

Meds Help Manage Detox

Medications can help during the most immediate, uncomfortable stage of recovery: detox.

WebMD explains, “Opioid withdrawal is difficult to endure, and is a major reason for relapse and continued prescription drug abuse. Medications are used to prevent symptoms of opioid withdrawal during detox, easing the person out of physical dependence.”

If detox is a stumbling block to your recovery, consider options such as methadone, clonidine, or buprenorphine. Talk with your treatment team about starting with over-the-counter medications for pain and other symptom management. Discuss your concerns, and make sure medical professionals approve and monitor what you use and when. If fear of withdrawal or health concerns related to detox is keeping you from pursuing an ultimately drug-free or sober life, temporarily adding medications can mean the difference between continued addiction and freedom from substance abuse. Even if you don’t want to use meds during detox, make sure you receive medically supervised detox services. These ensure you have the medical support you need for a safe and successful detox experience.

Meds Help in Early Treatment

Medical doctorRecovery doesn’t end with detox. In fact it has barely begun. Real change starts in early treatment and therapy. Meds can play an important role at this time.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration[1] explains, “If a person is addicted, medication allows him or her to regain a normal state of mind, free of drug-induced highs and lows. It frees the person from thinking all the time about the drug. It can reduce problems of withdrawal and craving. These changes can give the person the chance to focus on the lifestyle changes that lead back to healthy living.”

Medications can give you the mental time and space you need to develop other, long-term coping mechanisms. They give you a glimpse of a drug-free life and mindset. They help you stay in treatment so therapy can take root and you can create change. Once you’ve taken the first steps away from addiction, you can work with your treatment team to wean off of medications or further explore the role they will play in your long-term recovery.

Meds Help Treat Chronic Conditions

There is more to recovery than getting through detox. There’s even more to recovery than sitting through a few therapy sessions. Addiction is a complex, chronic disease. It affects and is affected by all other areas of health and life. It requires long-term attention and treatment.

The U.S. Surgeon General[2] explains, “Substance use disorders are similar in course, management, and outcome to other chronic illnesses, such as hypertension, diabetes, and asthma…It is possible to adopt the same type of chronic care management approach to the treatment of substance use disorders as is now used to manage most other chronic illnesses. Evidence-based behavioral interventions, medications, social support services, clinical monitoring, and recovery support services make this type of chronic care management possible.”

Chronic conditions require a comprehensive variety of life changes and health interventions. You wouldn’t refuse medications for other diseases requiring treatment. The same should be true of prescription drug addiction. If your treatment team determines that adding medications to your recovery plan is the best course of action, seriously consider doing so. Don’t expect medications to be a solution to addiction, but do look at them as potential tools.

Meds Help in Long-Term Recovery Management

Addiction is a chronic condition. This means it needs long-term support and management. You may be able to find stability without the use of medications. You may need them in early recovery. You may need to take meds for long-term addiction management. Needs vary from person to person, and they vary throughout your recovery experience. You may need medication support at certain times in life and not at others. You and your treatment team should constantly evaluate and reassess your treatment plan. This plan can be adjusted at any time to include or exclude meds. It should reflect your current recovery needs and these change as you pursue long-term health and wellness.

Meds Help Mental Health

Two men high fiveIf you struggle with addiction, you may struggle with other mental health conditions as well. The National Institute on Drug Abuse[3] shares, “people diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorders are about twice as likely as the general population to also suffer from a substance use disorder. Statistics from the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate close to 8.4 million adults in the United States have both a mental and substance use disorder.  However, only 7.9 percent of people receive treatment for both conditions, and 53.7 percent receive no treatment at all.” Treatment may involve medication for addiction, for a mental health issue, or for both. What is important is that all co-occurring issues are addressed fully and appropriately. Leaving any one condition insufficiently treated means opening the door for relapse. It means failing to achieve the stability, health, and quality of life that is more than possible for any individual.

Creating Your Addiction Treatment Plan

Addiction treatment doesn’t have to involve the use of medications. However, individuals should take advantage of any and every tool that will help them on their unique path to recovery. Meds can support early and long-term recovery. They can make it possible for you to achieve recovery success when used in conjunction with behavioral therapy and alternative treatment options. Michael’s House offers comprehensive, Dual Diagnosis care. We help you determine if medication-assisted therapy is right for you. We work with you to create an effective, comprehensive, and individualized treatment plan.


[1] https://store.samhsa.gov/shin/content/SMA09-4443/SMA09-4443.pdf. “Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2011. Web. 30 Mar 2017.

[2] https://addiction.surgeongeneral.gov/surgeon-generals-report.pdf. The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Nov 2016. Web. 29 Mar 2017.

[3] https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/news-releases/2014/01/severe-mental-illness-tied-to-higher-rates-substance-use. “Severe mental illness tied to higher rates of substance use.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. 3 Jan 2014. Web. 30 Mar 2017.