There are medications that can be applied in re-establishing a normalcy in brain functions and will help to diminish cravings and prevent the chances of relapse. Right now, the medications for heroin and morphine addictions, nicotine and alcohol addictions have aided in the further development of other medications for treating stimulant such as methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana addiction. Many people with severe addiction issues are usually polydrug users (they use more than one drug) and require multiple treatments for the substances they abuse.
The treatment for Opioids, which is the main medication is Methadone, but for some addicts, they are prescribed burprenorphine and naltrexone are more effective. All of these medications act on the same areas of the brain just as heroin and morphine do. Methadone and burprenorphine act to suppress the withdrawal symptoms, which in turn relieve cravings. Naltrexone has not been as widely used as the Methadone and burprenorphine, but is used when methadone and burprenorphine are not helping with the withdrawal symptoms.
Nicotine replacement has a variety of formulations that act as replacements. The replacements come in many forms, such as gum, sprays, patches and lozenges, which are all available over-the-counter medications. Plus, there are two prescription medications, which have been approved by the FDA for nicotine addiction: varenicline and buproion. These each have different effects in the brain and both help with withdraw and with relapsing. Besides the use of these medication, most doctors recommend besides the use of medications to behavioral treatments, which includes group and individual therapies.
For alcohol withdrawals, the FDA has approved 3 medications for treating dependency on alcohol: disulfiram, acamprosate and naltrexone. There is a fourth called topiramate, which has shown encouraging results. Disulfiram runs interference with the degradation of alcohol, it basically produces a very unpleasant reaction, like nausea, palpitations and flushing if the patient begins to consume alcohol again. Acamprosate reduces symptoms that appear when one begins to withdrawal for alcohol, such as anxieties, insomnia, dysphoria and restlessness; actually, it may be more effective in patients with severe alcoholism. Naltrexone works on the opioid receptors involved in the rewarding effects of alcohol by blocking the receptors and reduces the chances for relapse. Naltrexone is effective in some patients, but not all.