Can I Overcome an Addiction to Narcotics without Medication?

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If you have been fighting an addiction to narcotics for a long time, you might ask yourself if there is a treatment method available that does not involve the use of any medications. While this type of treatment does exist, certain individuals may be better suited to it than others. Can someone possibly overcome an addiction to narcotics without medication? Yes. But it is important to understand the risks and necessary steps of such a treatment.

The Most Common Treatment Plan

In most cases, a combination of both medication and behavioral therapy is expected to be the most beneficial treatment plan. According to the NIDA, “Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies.”

When someone uses medication as part of their treatment plan, this does not mean that they are still abusing drugs or that they are in worse shape than those who do not use medication. Every individual is different and needs a specific treatment plan that best suits their needs. As we understand it in every other type of medical plan, “no single treatment is appropriate for everyone.” So, even though a combination of medication and therapy works in most cases, it does not mean that all patients will necessarily benefit from this particular plan.

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Why Do Some Patients Choose Natural Addiction Treatment?

Natural detox and addiction treatment mean that there are no medications used to help the patient through the process of withdrawal or addiction treatment. Many individuals feel that natural treatment is more effective for them because they are

  • Less tempted
  • Unable to abuse whatever drugs that are given to them
  • Going through their treatment in a more natural way
  • Breaking their habit of relying on drugs to solve their problems

For many people, this can be the change in their lifestyles needed in order to become serious about treatment and to not experience as strong or as present of a temptation or opportunity to relapse. Many patients feel that the absence of medication make their treatment more about willpower and changing the way they think about their drug use than curbing their withdrawal symptoms and cravings with drugs.

Is It Viable to Undergo Natural/Medication Free Treatment for Narcotic Addiction?

Addiction to Narcotics

Natural addiction treatment plans can help you recover!

It really depends on the individual. Some people will receive a strong amount of motivation from the fact that they are doing a medication free treatment program while others might find it too difficult. Either way, it will likely be a painful and intense experience.

Narcotics cause strong withdrawal symptoms that, while not likely to cause life-threatening issues, can be very painful. If a person goes through at least detox with no type of medication to ease their symptoms, they will experience a large amount of pain and discomfort. According to SAMHSA, significant opioid withdrawal symptoms should not usually be managed without medication, as it “can produce needless suffering in a population that tends to have limited tolerance for physical pain.” This is one school of thought on the subject though, and many people choose natural detox for narcotic addictions.

As for addiction treatment, “medication can be used to help reestablish normal brain function and to prevent relapse and diminish cravings” (NIDA). For many individuals, it is even essential in allowing them to focus on behavioral treatments where they would otherwise be too plagued by cravings. There are actually three commonly used medications for narcotic addiction treatment: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone.

However, some people do not feel the need for these medications. And since drugs like cocaine and marijuana do not currently have medications that can help treat addiction at this point in time, we know that FDA-approved medications are not always necessary to treat addiction to illicit or otherwise harmful substances.

There is a possibility that medication-free drug treatment can be successful for treatment of narcotic addiction. After all, the NIDA states, “Counseling––individual and/or group––and other behavioral therapies are the most commonly used forms of drug abuse treatment.”

The Importance of Behavioral Therapy

Yes, medication can be beneficial to those trying to wean themselves off a harmful drug or those who need extra help during their long-term treatment process. But therapy can often be the tool that essentially changes the individual’s way of thinking when it comes to narcotics. With therapy, you can discover

  • Ways to deal with and fight cravings
  • Ways to avoid triggers
  • Multiple reasons for your drug abuse (from genetics to environment to mental illness) and how these issues might be treated as well
  • How to reward yourself for positive behavior in ways that don’t involve drugs
  • The feelings of other individuals (friends, family members, and other drug abusers in group therapy situations) and how they can relate to helping you with your addiction

In many cases, the conscious effort to change the way you think with counseling or behavioral therapy is more essential than being treated with medications. Even in methadone clinics, where patients are given the drug regularly to fight their cravings and curb their withdrawal symptoms, “resocialization and vocational training” are also emphasized in a large way (CDC). In many ways, therapy and/or counseling is the more  essential element in the treatment of drug addiction.

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Am I a Good Candidate for Addiction Treatment Without Medication?

It is important to know if you are capable of and a good candidate for addiction treatment without medication. It is not a necessary treatment program and should only be taken into account if the patient is more comfortable and their doctor feels that it would be beneficial. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I feel more comfortable with the idea of a natural detox/addiction treatment program?
  • Do I understand and am I willing to cope with the often painful and uncomfortable symptoms associated with narcotic withdrawal?
  • Do I have a good, stable support system who will be helping and watching me throughout my treatment?

If you answered yes to these questions, you might be a good candidate for this treatment. In some cases, it is possible to overcome addiction to narcotics without the use of medication, but the patient must understand that it will be difficult, and they be willing to do the work necessary to get better.

the Take-Away

An addiction to narcotics can be overcome naturally. It is helpful to use medication therapy, but it is possible to overcome addiction without medication. Therapy and other methods are especially important in these cases.