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Medication Management in Addiction Treatment

Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease that unfortunately affects many Americans. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 48.7 million people struggled with a substance use disorder in 2022.[1]

Thankfully, there is a wide range of options when it comes to addiction treatment. While some people prefer outpatient rehab, inpatient or residential treatment might be better suited for you if you have a moderate to severe addiction. These programs offer a safe housing option, access to 24/7 care, and intensive services to help you recover from substance abuse.

While therapy and counseling are vital aspects of addiction recovery, medications can be just as important. Medications are used in a few different ways during the addiction recovery process, including to control withdrawal symptoms, prevent cravings, and manage co-occurring disorders.

Prescribing medication during addiction treatment can be tricky, so medical staff use a process known as medication management. This technique ensures that you are receiving medications safely and securely, preventing you from being able to abuse your prescriptions.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What medication management means in addiction treatment
  • How medications are used during drug and alcohol rehab centers
  • The advantages of medication management
  • How to find help

What is Medication Management in Addiction Treatment?

Medication management involves a doctor or psychiatrist overseeing your medication(s) to ensure they are working correctly. Additionally, medication management services involve adjusting dosages when needed, dispensing one dose at a time to prevent substance abuse, and ensuring that any medications they prescribe are safe for you.

First, your doctor will take a look at your medical history before prescribing a medication. Doing so will ensure you do not experience any drug interactions with other medications you are taking or pre-existing conditions you may struggle with.

Once a medication is prescribed, you will have weekly check-ins with your doctor. They will ask you questions about how you are feeling, whether your symptoms are improving, and if you are dealing with any side effects. If necessary, your doctor will adjust your dosage to improve the benefits and lessen any side effects you are experiencing.

Medication management could include a “trial and error” process, depending on what type of medication you are taking. With medications to control withdrawal and cravings, usually, it is pretty straightforward. However, medication for mental health issues can be difficult to get right on the first try, which means you might have to try a few different medications before you find the right one.

How are Medications Used During Addiction Treatment?

Medication management is an important part of addiction treatment plans. There are a few different ways that medications are used during the recovery process.

Medications for Withdrawal

The first step in addiction recovery is medical detox. When you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, your body relies on the substance to function properly. As a result, suddenly stopping the use of it will lead to withdrawal symptoms.

Medications are often used to soothe your withdrawal symptoms. For example, if you were addicted to opioids, you might be given medication like Suboxone or methadone. If you are recovering from alcohol withdrawal, benzodiazepines might be used to taper you off of liquor slowly.

Medications for Drug and Alcohol Cravings

Once you overcome withdrawal symptoms, you will likely deal with lingering urges to abuse drugs or alcohol. Sometimes, these urges or cravings can be so strong that you cannot think of anything else. This can get in the way of recovery, preventing you from retaining the skills you learn during therapy and counseling.

To ensure you can focus on your addiction recovery, you might be given prescription medications that control cravings for alcohol or drugs. Oftentimes, Suboxone is used to prevent opioid cravings, while naltrexone is prescribed to control alcohol cravings.

Medications for Co-Occurring Disorders

Psychiatric medication management is used when you struggle with a co-occurring mental health condition. Mental illness often plays a role in the development of addiction. When it is left untreated, it increases your chances of experiencing a relapse later on.

To prevent relapse and improve your quality of life, medications are used to treat co-occurring disorders during addiction treatment programs. For example, bipolar disorder is often treated with mood stabilizers or antipsychotics. Mental health medications like antidepressants might be used to manage symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Get Connected to a Medically-Assisted Drug and Alcohol Rehab Program

If you or a loved one struggles with alcoholism or drug addiction, it’s time to seek help. Addiction treatment centers that offer medication management services are your best option. By choosing one of these programs, you can rest assured that your withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and mental health conditions will be treated effectively.

At Mandala Healing Center, we believe in combining medication management with evidence-based counseling services for addiction. Contact us today for more information on our medically-assisted drug and alcohol rehab center.


  1. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): HHS, SAMHSA Release 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Data