2018: A New Year, A New Resolution to End Addiction

This is the year addiction ends.
(Photo by ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com)

Addiction spreads its pain far and wide. It starts with the addicted person who suffers pain and guilt. His (or her) family suffers the terror that their loved one will go to jail or die of overdose. Their siblings grieve as they watch seeing someone they grew up with lose their very soul. As we round the corner to 2018, families across the country look at this painful situation and swear to themselves: “This is the year that addiction ends.” And they begin the search for a rehab program to help them achieve this goal.

As they make this search, they’ll be faced with dozens of choices. Inpatient, outpatient, short-term, long-term, Twelve Step, wilderness, therapeutic community, dual diagnosis and many others.

There’s also quite a list of drugs available to treat drug or alcohol addiction. They’ll hear about Suboxone or Subutex, methadone, acamprosate, topiramate, and others approved for this purpose by the Food and Drug Administration and several others that are not. When drugs are used in treatment, it’s referred to as medication-assisted treatment or MAT.

But isn’t that contradictory? Weren’t families really seeking a drug-free life for their loved one? Yes, but they may not know there are drug-free choices that can help their loved one achieve sobriety. Plus their fear of the danger of addiction is understandably so great that they may decide on MAT because it is readily available, covered by insurance or promoted by someone they trust such as a family doctor.

The Drugs That May be Offered

If you’re starting 2018 by looking for drug rehab for a loved one, here’s some of the drugs you may hear about.

Suboxone and Subutex are prescribed for a person addicted to opioids. Both contain a prescription opioid, buprenorphine, that replaces the opioids the individual was using, thereby preventing withdrawal sickness. Buprenorphine is addictive meaning that if use is stopped, withdrawal symptoms will kick in.

Methadone word cloud
Image by ibreakstock/Shutterstock

Methadone has been used as a maintenance drug for decades. It is a synthetic opiate and like buprenorphine, it is addictive.

Acamprosate is a drug that is brand named Campral. It is given to a person who has already stopped drinking to help them maintain sobriety. But the results of this drug in trials was “mixed,” meaning that it didn’t always work.

Topiramate is used “off label” for alcohol recovery, meaning that the drug was never approved for this purpose but doctors prescribe it anyway. Suicide is a side effect of this drug.

Antabuse is a drug that is supposed to make people sick if they drink alcohol. It’s not a very reliable method of recovery because all a person has to do if they want to drink is skip a couple of pills.

Naltrexone, brand named Vivitrol, is being given to people recovering from alcoholism. For some people, use results in liver damage and thoughts of suicide.

The Future of MAT?

And then there are experimental drugs or ones being tested for future use.

Ecstasy pills.
(Ecstasy pills/Photo courtesy the DEA)

Some people believe that cannabis should be given to people in recovery from opioid addiction. Other people want to use Ecstasy or LSD during addiction recovery. There are also exotic plants like ibogaine and ayahuasca that some people claim will cure a person of addiction in just a few treatments.

Indivior, the company that markets the addiction treatment drug Suboxone in film form, has proposed a monthly injection of buprenorphine called Sublocade.

Researchers in Greece have been testing the use of baclofen, a drug used to treat muscle spasticity, in the treatment of alcoholism.

Ondansetron, a drug used to treat the nausea of chemotherapy, has been tested for possible use on alcoholics. Side effects include temporary loss of vision and chest pain.

Pindolol is being tested on alcoholics in Australia. Its use is complicated by the fact that if it is combined with caffeine products, some people suffer from irregular heartbeat and problems breathing and if a person breaks down and drinks, their blood pressure may drop so low that they faint.

Addiction recovery is a big market and the dream of pharmaceutical companies is to make a drug that answers everyone’s dream of sobriety.

On the other hand, the Narconon drug rehabilitation program has been helping the addicted recover their ability to enjoy a productive, sober life for more than fifty years without ever needing a single drug as part of that rehabilitation.

Narconon Arrowhead
Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma.

How Does the Narconon Program Work?

The key here is understanding the difference between treatment and rehabilitation.

Treatment assumes that there is an illness that needs to be treated with medical procedures. Rehabilitation refers to the process of returning a person to a former condition of ability and activity. Narconon does not offer treatment, it offers rehabilitation.

A person entering rehab normally comes in buried under layers of guilt, trauma, upset and pain. He (or she) is normally tortured by cravings and has little hope of enjoying life without being high.

One layer at a time, the guilt, trauma and pain must be alleviated. And then a person must regain the capability to enjoy his new sober life. This means he must develop the life skills he’ll need to make sober decisions every day and meet life’s challenges without hungering for the oblivion of drugs or alcohol.

This is not a fast process. It takes longer than 30 days. Each person on the Narconon program progresses at their own rate. They don’t graduate until they have gained the skills and confidence to re-enter their lives as sober individuals.

The exact steps of the Narconon program are spelled out on our website. Here’s where you can learn more.

We want you to know that you have a drug-free choice for the recovery of a loved one, or for yourself. And may 2018 be the year that a loved one comes out from under the cloud of addiction forever.

To learn more, call us at 1-800-737-5250.


Karen Hadley

For more than a decade, Karen has been researching and writing about drug trafficking, drug abuse, addiction and recovery. She has also studied and written about policy issues related to drug treatment.