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Treatment Medications

Medications are used in several phases of treatment.  At the beginning of this process, addiction treatment medications are administered to help with withdrawal symptoms. Getting rid of addictive substances from a patient’s body while managing the physical symptoms of withdrawal is called medical detoxification.  Of note, detoxification is not the only component to treatment, but rather, just the first step.  Medications are also used throughout treatment to help prevent relapse, diminish cravings, and re-establish normal brain function.  There are a number of psychotherapeutic medications used in a treatment setting:


Helps treat persons experiencing:

Addiction Treatment

Alcohol, Opioid, and Other Drug Withdrawal
Relapse Prevention


Psychotic Symptoms


Side Effects Associated with Antipsychotic Medications


Moods Swings of Bipolar Illness.

Hypnotics (Sleep Aids)

Sleep Disturbances

Narcotic and Opioid Analgesics

Acute Pain


Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder





Psychotherapeutic Medications 2006 - table

For example, Buprenorphine is a proven safe and effective medication for the treatment of opiate addiction.  This drug helps relieve withdrawal symptoms while a patient is adjusting to a drug-free state. Click on Buprenorphine Treatment: A Training for Multidisciplinary Addiction Professionals  for more information.

Click on SAMHA’s Buprenorphine Physician and Treatment Program Locator to locate a physician authorized to treat opioid addiction with buprenorphine.

Medication Resources:

 Psychotherapeutic Medications 2006: What Every Counselor Should Know
Mid-America ATTC brochure describing typical uses of medications, including specific symptoms treated and positive treatment response expected.  Designed as a quick “desk reference” for substance abuse and mental health providers.

Helping You to Help Your Patients:  An Introduction to Medication for Alcohol DependenceJoin Together’s free online course for addiction treatment counselors.  Course explains the effects of alcohol on the brain, how medications work with the brain mechanisms involved in alcohol dependence, and how medications can be part of a comprehensive treatment program. Designated for up to 2.0 CEUs.

Volume 2:  Medical Management Treatment Manual: A Clinical Research Guide for Medically Trained Clinicians Providing Pharmacotherapy as Part of the Treatment for Alcohol Dependence - Publication describing the use of medical management and brief counseling sessions to enhance medication adherence and abstinence from alcohol. This brief session therapy might be suitable for delivery in primary care settings.

Join Together. (n.d.) Addiction Treatment – Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved on November 27, 2007 from

Mid-America ATTC. (2006). Psychotherapeutic Medications 2006. 6th Edition. Retrieved on December 18, 2007 from


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