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Recovery from addiction is possible and can be made more comfortable and manageable with the aid of certain medications. CMAP offers medically assisted detox programs, case management and referral services in a comfortable outpatient setting in Draper, Utah
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to heroin, pain meds or other opioids, our clinic offers evidence-based medical care supporting both ambulatory detox from opiates and re-establishing healthy life patterns through comprehensive case management and referral services. Our attentive, compassionate, and knowledgeable team. As with any treatment for drug or alcohol dependence, a multifaceted approach is required to help an addict overcome all aspects of the substance dependence.
Alcohol is a depressant that destroys brain cells, primarily in the left hemisphere, where language and logic are affected. Alcohol is referred to as the “great dis-inhibitor,” in that it breaks down barriers or behavioral restraints that are present in a sober state of mind. The number of neurons, or brain cells, that are destroyed by Alcohol vary depending on the length of time and amount consumed while drinking. Alcohol affects two specific brain receptors: GABA and NMDA. NMDA receptors that foster activity and communication are shut down by alcohol. This leaves GABA to control traffic by slowing down communication, slurring speech, and impairing motor coordination. Denial of GABA’s inhibitory effects allows neurons to fire rapidly, resulting in moods of extreme highs and lows. Heavy alcohol consumption can also lead to premature aging.
Studies of the alcoholic brain have shown reduced blood flow in the frontal lobe, which is responsible for memory formation, creativity, and problem-solving. The brain’s nerve membrane appears more fluid than viscous in alcoholics, which results in instability and a higher risk for brain damage. Alcoholism is not one single disease, but a complex of diseases similar to diabetes or heart disease. There are medicines that can decrease cravings for alcohol and lower the risk for relapse, but we believe the best approach also includes psychosocial support in conjunction with medication. Let the skilled clinicians at CMAP guide you on your journey to recovery.
Opioids and Prescription Medications
Opioids, sleeping pills, tranquilizers, muscle relaxers, and anti-anxiety drugs are all depressants that affect the quality of brain function. Benzodiazepines, known as sedatives and hypnotics like Xanax or Valium, affect the brain’s alertness and its chemistry. These drugs are particularly dangerous when used in combinations.
Using sedatives with pain medication can lead to serious impairment when driving a vehicle. It may be difficult to stay in a lane, maintain a constant speed, brake at a reasonable distance, recognize road signs, and have peripheral awareness. Researchers have found that drugs in several categories tend to impair performance in operating machinery. These effects are typically worsened when medications are taken with alcohol. Certain combinations of drugs can produce unwanted side-effects, or even be lethal.
“Painkillers” such as Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and Morphine are helpful for the treatment of pain, however they alter the chemistry within of the pleasure center of the brain. It is not uncommon for a person who is exposed to pain medication to move on to an illegal substance like Heroin due to its availability, cost, and need to avoid withdrawal symptoms. The results of the opioid epidemic have been catastrophic. Overdoses are now among the leading causes of death in the United States. Fortunately, there are highly effective treatments for opioid addiction and recovery is possible.
It is very important to understand the medications you take into your body and the effects they can have on your daily functioning. At CMAP we can review your current medications and provide recommendations to help maximize your health and recovery. We stress education about all medications prescribed, and weigh the risks and benefits for each patient.
Opioid Treatment Options
There are various treatment options to help with opioid addiction and the withdrawal symptoms a patient may experience during detox. Buprenorphine (Subutex) or Buprenorphine- Naloxone (Suboxone) are medications that help ease withdrawal symptoms by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain, without producing a state of euphoria. These medications can aid in stabilization and allow patients to work towards recovery by reducing cravings, fear of withdrawal, and increasing quality of life. This medication has also been successful for patients with chronic pain who have developed opioid dependency. While we do provide Suboxone maintenance we also encourage our patients to taper off the medication if it is appropriate, after maintaining a period of sobriety with social support, and under the care of a physician.
Naltrexone is another medication that can aid in preventing relapse and reducing cravings in patients with Opioid or Alcohol dependence. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that comes in a tablet, (Vivitrol) injectable, and an implantable pellet form. This medication is very helpful in early recovery and provides a safety net for those who are at a high risk for relapse. Vivitrol is an injection that blocks the effects of opiates for 30 days, and may be covered by insurance. Dr. Timothy Schaat has helped pioneer a cost-effective alternative to the Vivitrol injection by offering an implantable pellet procedure in our office. The Naltrexone pellet provides an opiate blockade for up to 90 days, and involves an office procedure lasting between 30-45 minutes. If you are interested in any of these options, please schedule a consultation to see if Vivitrol or the Naltrexone pellet is right for you.
Steady, continual use of marijuana results in what has been called “amotivational syndrome,” a lethargic, self-defeating behavior that can result in a apathy, abandonment of long- term plans, and loss of pleasure in normal activity. The active ingredient in marijuana, called THC, has a naturally occurring equivalent in the human body. THC is extremely powerful, however many who use the drug do not feel it is addictive or a problem for them. The drug certainly affects the pleasure center in the brain, and can affect relationships, work productivity, and individual development and success. Researchers at the Duke Alcoholism and Addictions Program have found evidence that chronic use of marijuana dramatically lowers cerebral blood flow to the brain permanently, which suggests lowered brain activity. It can be very difficult to stop smoking or ingesting marijuana, but having additional supports in place can aid the journey to wellness and recovery.
Nicotine, the addictive chemical in tobacco and e-juice products, interrupts the flow of oxygen to the brain. This happens primarily in the right hemisphere, resulting in oxygen deprivation accompanied by a decreased glucose metabolism. This leads users to experience a sluggish or faulty memory, ineffective problem solving, and a decrease in general mental output. Nicotine increases levels of cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone.” Stress increases between each use, and peaks the longer you have to wait until the next cigarette or “hit” of nicotine. The idea that smoking alleviates stress comes from the relief felt from smoking after a long period of abstinence. However, there is no evidence that nicotine relieves stress long-term. In fact, the oxidative damage that smoking causes far outweighs any actual or perceived benefit.
There is evidence pointing toward the possibility that depression and nicotine share a common gene. Researchers at Anderson Cancer Center identified a variation of the dopamine- related DRD2 gene that is common to smokers. They hypothesize that smokers, and possibly other stimulus seekers, like over-eaters, alcohol abusers, have a non-reactive pleasure center in the brain. For these people stimulants are required to generate the endorphins that non-smokers (or non-stimulant users) produce normally.
Smoking causes lung cancer and increases the risk of lung, cervical, nasal sinus, and brain cancer. It also increases the risk of heart disease and heart attack, as it is toxic to the body. Second-hand smoke increases the risk of asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia to those who are around you. It can also increase the frequency of ear infections in young children, and the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS.) Smoking, as well as secondhand smoke, raises levels of carbon monoxide in the bloodstream, which reduces oxygen flow to the heart, brain, and other organs. The sooner you quit, the better your chances are to live a long and healthy life
Quitting smoking can be a difficult process, and some may try multiple times to quit with no success. Fortunately, there are medications that can aid in this process if you are struggling to quit. Certain dopamine-releasing drugs, such as Bromocriptine and Bupropion, have been helpful in reducing the urge to smoke. There are many options for smoking cessation, let us help you begin the journey to a smoke-free life for you and your family.
Neurobiology of addiction