The kappa opioid receptor in the brain is the new target of some alcohol addiction treatment studies. It has been determined that this receptor is a key part of alcohol dependence in patients, and some believe that focusing on this receptor when a patient is in treatment for alcohol abuse or addiction is key to helping them avoid cravings, stick with treatment, and avoid relapse for the long-term.
Currently, there are a slew of medications on the market for patients who are trying to overcome an alcohol use disorder, but none of them focus specifically on the kappa opioid receptor. What could new medications bring to the table for alcoholics in recovery?
For alcoholics, there is no medication-assisted treatment that works in the way that opiate addicts use Suboxone or methadone to essentially “replace” the addictive substance in the brain. Rather, there are a number of medications that have been shown to be successful in helping patients to crave alcohol less or experience fewer or less intense alcohol withdrawal symptoms during the first weeks of treatment.
Are so-called “detox meds” a viable option for your loved one? It depends. It’s important to remember that when it comes to alcohol addiction treatment – just like treatment for almost every chronic disorder – the following is true:
- Not everyone will experience benefits using alcohol addiction treatment medications.
- Even if benefits are experienced initially, their use is not a guarantee against relapse.
- Certain underlying medical disorders may inhibit the efficacy of these meds or cause side effects that are uncomfortable.
- Some programs offer alternative methods of treatment that do not include medications of any kind, even non-addictive drugs.
Even if medications are helpful for your loved one in the initial stages of recovery, they are no quick fix, and they aren’t useful for the long-term. Finding a treatment program that offers a comprehensive treatment regime is the best option for patients who are looking to not only stop drinking but also to create a positive life in recovery without alcohol use. A well-rounded alcohol rehab program will offer:
- Medical care detox assistance for withdrawal symptoms
- Treatment for co-occurring disorders (e.g., mental health symptoms, vice addictions like gambling or smoking, etc.)
- A wide variety of traditional, holistic and alternative therapies to improve coping skills
- Focused relapse prevention
- Family therapy
- Aftercare support
Find out more about what your loved one needs to recover from alcoholism. Contact us at Alta Mira today.