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Medications for Substance Use Disorders

Manage alcohol withdrawal and drug cravings with proper support

Medications often help in treating alcohol withdrawal or drug cravings as people stop drinking, quit drugs, and begin their journey sobriety. Affect’s medical staff works with our members to understand each person’s individual needs and prescribes medication when appropriate. 

Medications are used in combination with counseling and behavioral treatments in an integrated approach to substance use disorder treatment. Known to some as medication-assisted treatment (MAT), this “whole-patient” approach can be very effective in helping people sustain recovery. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved multiple medications for the treatment of alcohol use disorder (AUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD). Physical withdrawal from opioids is very uncomfortable, but almost never life threatening. The physical withdrawal of a heavy drinker who stops suddenly can be fatal. Medically supervised withdrawal management may be necessary as the body processes toxins, a process often referred to as “detox.”

There is no FDA-approved medication to treat stimulant use disorders or cannabis/marijuana use disorder like there is for alcohol or opioids, but some medications are effective in managing withdrawal or cravings from marijuana, meth, cocaine, and prescription drugs.

Aside from physical withdrawal, most people will experience Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) when recovering from both alcohol and stimulants. Certain medications can reduce the risk of relapse and make people more comfortable if they experience depression, anxiety, or other effects. This helps while the brain regains the clarity needed to make progress through counseling and behavioral treatments. 

The following is a list of medications that our doctors have found to be helpful and effective in providing a support system to reduce drug or alcohol usage and help people feel better as they start their recovery journeys.

In addition to the medications below, Affect’s medical providers may prescribe other medications that can help with the symptoms you’re experiencing, especially during withdrawal. 

Get in contact with us to learn more and discuss your options in a convenient and confidential telehealth meeting.

MedicationSummaryHow it works
NaltrexoneNaltrexone is an opioid antagonist and is commonly used to help treat a number of different substance use disorders.Naltrexone is often prescribed to help people manage drug and alcohol cravings and avoid relapse. Research studies have shown that it can reduce some of the effects of alcohol and stimulants, which in turn may help people reduce their usage.
AcamprosateAcamprosate is a compound that acts on the central nervous system.Acamprosate is a neuromodulator that helps people increase their sober days and decrease the amount they drink.
TopiramateTopiramate is an anti-convulsant used to help reduce seizures.Though not yet approved by the FDA for this purpose, topiramate shows promise for reducing drinking and cravings. More specifically, topiramate has been shown to reduce heavy drinking – meaning, the consumption of multiple drinks in a way that increase risk for harm.
CarbamazepineCarbamazepine is an anticonvulsant used to help reduce seizures. It also is FDA-approved for trigeminal neuralgia and has evidence for treating bipolar disorder.Carbamazepine has been shown to be an effective and well-tolerated treatment for mild alcohol withdrawal. 
GabapentinGabapentin is an anticonvulsant used to help reduce seizures and treat other conditions, such as restless legs syndrome (RLS).While the exact mechanism is not fully understood, it may reduce excitatory brain signaling. It has been shown to be an effective treatment for alcohol withdrawal.
BupropionBupropion is an antidepressant.Research has shown that it reduces both the high associated with drug usage as well as trigger-induced cravings. In combination with Naltrexone, studies have shown that it helps drive lower drug usage and better treatment program participation for some individuals.
MirtazapineMirtazapine is an antidepressant.Research studies have demonstrated that mirtazapine can increase abstinence and reduce risky behaviors associated with methamphetamine usage.
BuprenorphineBuprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means it binds to the brain’s opioid receptors but only activates them partially.As part of a full recovery program for opioid addiction treatment, buprenorphine helps to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings without producing the full euphoric effects associated with other opioids like heroin or prescription painkillers.