How Long Do Medications in Rehab Take to Work?

How Long Do Medications in Rehab Take to Work?

Medications can have immediate effects or even take a few weeks before the benefits are known

When you enter rehab for the first time, it is very normal to be nervous and even somewhat scared as you start. You likely will not know what exactly to expect. Change can be scary, especially when it is a big change such as getting clean and sober after spending your life in an inebriated state. The recovery process has the potential to completely transform your entire life. When you start to take intentional steps over time, you will see how you can make this change toward a healthier life.

In some cases, during addiction rehab you may be given some form of medication to help with the detox or treatment process, and depending on the addiction and substance used, these medications can take varying amounts of time to work. If you or a loved one in Sacramento is struggling with addiction, comprehensive addiction treatment, which may or may not include medication, can help you overcome cravings and achieve long-term recovery.

Medication to Assist with Withdrawal

Withdrawal is the time that your body adjusts to no longer having the addictive substance in its system, and can be very painful, uncomfortable and grueling. As the abused substance starts to leave the system, there are many different withdrawal symptoms that are possible. According to the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Dependence, some include: nervousness, anxiety, shaking, profusely sweating, not sleeping, depression or feelings of gloom and sadness, loss of appetite and headaches. In extreme situations, withdrawal can be life threatening and may include hallucinations, confusion, seizures and extreme agitation.

The medication given at this time will vary depending on the drug used and the severity of the addiction and subsequent withdrawal symptoms. For example, heroin withdrawals include symptoms such as elevated blood pressure, insomnia, dilated pupils, crying, a very runny nose and vomiting. In those cases, methadone or clonidine can be given to help manage heroin withdrawal with dosages every for to six hours as needed for up to seven days.

Some common withdrawal symptoms of alcoholism include nervousness, delusions, hallucinations, disorientation, shaking, irritability and elevated blood pressure. In many cases, Diazepam (also known as Valium) or Lorazepam (Ativan) are given orally every four to six hours as is needed to help with withdrawal.

In the case of withdrawals, the symptoms and use of medication is temporary. These types of medications work within the same day to help ease the most painful aspects of withdrawal.

Medication as Treatment

For some cases, it is possible that medicine can be used to help reestablish normal brain patterns and also to help prevent relapse and control cravings for use of the addictive substance. There are medications to help treat addictions to many different substances, including: opiates such as heroin and morphine, marijuana, nicotine, alcohol, cocaine and also methamphetamine.

After you complete detox and receive medical clearance to proceed with rehab, addiction treatment begins. During this phase certain medications are used to help individuals overcome the addiction itself. For example, according to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, the following medications can be used to help treat heroin addiction:

  • Methadone (also called Dolophine or Methadose) is an opioid medication that reduces the “high” that occurs with other routes of administration while also preventing withdrawal symptoms. It is also used as a pain reliever and for addiction maintenance. This drug has been used for the last fifty years to treat heroin addiction. It does have some possible side effects such as chest pain, severe dizziness, and fast or pounding heartbeats.
  • Buprenorphine (also called Subutex) is a medication that helps safely reduce drug cravings. The results are very similar to methadone.
  • Naltrexone (also known as Depade or Revia) is an opioid antagonist. Naltrexone blocks the action of opioids.

Again, for the most part, these medications will begin working shortly after use. It is possible that some prescriptions will take a couple weeks to help you reduce cravings. The results will vary. Talk to your doctor and your therapist. Tell them how you feel and if you are having any side effects.

Keep in mind that addiction treatment medications have the potential to cause a range of side effects. Whether or not you are given medication could vary from one treatment center to another and depend on your health history. The effectiveness of the medication for use in reducing cravings could vary as well. Each situation is unique and medicine is part of the treatment—not the entire treatment.

Find Comprehensive Addiction Treatment

Medications alone cannot “cure” addiction. Because addiction is a chronic brain disease, comprehensive treatment programs also focus on helping patients learn new ways to cope with difficult feelings and situations and develop skills for healthy living. Effective treatment also includes therapy to help patients uncover the underlying reasons behind their substance abuse and work to address any co-occurring mental health issues.

If you have any questions about the specific kinds of medication used in treatment, please feel free to talk to one of our counselors. If you or a loved one in Sacramento struggles with addiction, please know you are not alone. Just call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline. Our trained counselors understand how you feel and will carefully listen and answer all of your questions.

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