Proven treatment methods like individualized therapy sessions, 12-step programs, medication management and follow-up support will always have a place in helping individuals seeking meaningful recovery from addiction. At the same time, there are advances in how addiction is treated that are worth considering when looking for an overall approach to recovery that’s most likely to be effective.
According to the National Institute On Drug Abuse, prescription drugs (especially opioids) are among the most commonly used addictive drugs. One of the newer medications on the market is Zubsolv, a new drug for opioid dependence with a menthol flavor that dissolves under the tongue. Newer medications already available, or in the approval stage, also include:
- Suboxone (a newer drug primarily used to treat addictions to painkillers like Oxycontin and street narcotics like heroin)
- Probuphine (a long-acting variation of the opioid dependence medication buprenorphine that’s implanted just under the skin in the upper arm)
- Naloxone (a new anti-addiction drug increased used in the treatment of alcohol dependency)
- Ibogaine (an experimental drug for opiate dependency)
Diet and Exercise
Recent research supports previous assertions that herbal supplements can help reestablish a biochemical balance in the brain. Diets that restrict or limit sugars and simple starches can also help restore a natural balance that can help control receptors in the brain that control impulse. According to a study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, exercise can help addicts heal both mentally and physically. What’s new, however, is increased evidence confirming the benefits of exercise as a part of recovery treatment, with the following exercises considered especially beneficial:
- Yoga and Pilates
- Cardiovascular exercises (even shorter 10-20 minute sessions can release endorphins producing a “natural high”)
- Outdoor exercises (swimming, running, walking, jogging)
Amino acid nutrition therapy (sometimes referred to as biochemical restoration) is a relatively recent therapy designed to enhance recovery and help prevent relapse. The purpose is to promote the production of certain neurotransmitters (epinephrine and norepinephrine) linked to addictive behaviors. Patients typically take multi-vitamins and amino acid supplements. Medical nutrition therapy involves classes where patients learn proper nutritional habits to counter nutritional imbalances that may led to low energy, anxiety and depression – all factors that can trigger a relapse. Other experimental therapies currently being tested and incorporated in some treatments include:
- Neurofeedback (electroencephalography (EEG) sensors attached to the head are controlled from a computer by the patient with the purpose of easing triggers that may result in relapse)
- Mindfulness meditation (for the purpose of controlling mood)
- Pet therapy (research suggests that caring for a pet or spending time with animals provides a new focus for recovering addicts while also reducing stress levels)
One of the potentially groundbreaking methods for treating dependency is a cocaine vaccine that’s currently in the development stages at New York State Psychiatric Institute. Researchers are also looking at possible vaccines to treat addictions to nicotine and heroin. These new treatments hold promise for those fighting addictions.
Since recovery is a highly individualized process, however, some people respond better to conventional treatments while others do better with a mix of newer methods and proven remedies.