Replacement Medications for Withdrawal Treatment

Replacement medications are often used to suppress withdrawal symptoms from drug addiction. They’re most commonly prescribed for cigarette smokers, but they’re also used for opioid addiction. There’s a wide variety of opioids, ranging from heroin to oxycodone. All of them suppress pain, and all of them are addictive narcotic drugs.

Opioid addiction involves the compulsive use of opioids regardless of the devastating physical and mental consequences to the addict. Those consequences include withdrawal symptoms when the availability of opioids is abruptly terminated or decreased. Symptoms usually begin to show about 12 hours after the last use of opioids. Early symptoms might include anxiety, muscle aches and excessive sweating. Later symptoms might consist of abdominal cramping, diarrhea and vomiting.

Causes of Withdrawal Symptoms

Those who use opioids for extended periods of time become desensitized to them. Their bodies need more and more of the substances to recreate the same high received from the drugs early in their history of use. Extended use of opioids alters how the brain’s nerve receptors work. The receptors themselves eventually need opioids to function. When the addict experiences withdrawal, the body is reacting to the absence of opioids.

Replacement Medications to Help Relieve Unpleasant Withdrawal Symptoms

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are of the firm opinion that legal replacement drugs are effective for treating drug addicts who’d otherwise obtain opioids illegally. Three of those replacement drugs are methadone, naltrexone and Suboxone for withdrawal treatment.


Methadone is an opioid medication used for alleviating the withdrawal symptoms opioid addicts experience when their ability to use opioids is eliminated. Addicts don’t get a high from methadone, though. Methadone’s effect is on the part of the brain that cuts off the high. It’s used as a pain reliever during detoxification. It’s also used as a maintenance drug after detox has been completed. Methadone is taken once a day. The drug is effective for 24 to 36 hours. It reduces the chances of relapse significantly by blocking the highs and lows addicts feel from opioid use and deprivation. Methadone treatment may last for several years.


Supporters of this drug believe it blocks the euphoric effects of opioids. Although originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use in treating alcohol addiction, it’s also used to treat opioid addiction. However, it’s more often prescribed for treatment of alcohol dependence. Recent studies suggest that naltrexone has little efficacy in reducing opioid cravings. Injectable naltrexone was approved by the FDA after review of only one study that took place in Russia. In that study, naltrexone efficacy wasn’t compared with that of methadone because methadone isn’t available in the country.


Buprenorphine is a synthetic opioid found in Suboxone. It has also been successful in alleviating withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings for opioids. It was approved for this purpose by the FDA in 2002. It remains widely prescribed. Although Suboxone is an opioid, it’s only a partial opioid. When taken, it produces less of a euphoric effect than a full opioid like heroin or oxycodone. With Suboxone for withdrawal treatment, some people report feeling a slight pleasurable sensation, while others describe an energized feeling or no effect at all. Even if a full opioid is taken while a person is using Suboxone for withdrawal treatment, the opioid will have no effect.

Methadone and Suboxone Addiction

Both methadone and Suboxone carry the potential for abuse. Signs of abuse are multiple prescriptions from multiple doctors and using the drugs more frequently than prescribed. Suboxone might be abused more than methadone. Notwithstanding the fact that both are controlled substances, Suboxone isn’t as tightly controlled as methadone. It isn’t required to be taken in a clinic, so more of it is available on the street. Both can have their own significant symptoms of withdrawal.

Help for Overcoming Opioid Addiction

Replacement Medications for Withdrawal TreatmentOvercoming opioid addiction is a challenge, but people make the 180 degree turn every day. Just finding the right rehab center for your individual needs and means can be difficult. An addiction hotline can put you or somebody close to you in touch with a trained and experienced addiction call center operator who can point you in the right direction. All privacy laws are strictly observed, so anything you say to your addiction call center specialist is highly confidential.

It doesn’t cost anything to reach out for help. You can do that at any hour of any day, 365 days a year by calling the hotline at 800-447-9081. You’re not helping yourself by waiting. The addiction hotline can start you on that 180 degree turn. Trained specialists will listen to you and offer sound suggestions. Then you can begin putting the pieces of your life back together. You’ll start picking up those pieces by making the call.

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