Dr. Ryan Lee, a psychiatric nurse practitioner in Scottsdale, AZ, specializes in addiction treatment including medication management and counseling services. Please contact us to discuss treatment options and availability!
What is addiction?
The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.”
The ASAM characterizes addiction by “the inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problem with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response”. Like most disease, addiction often occurs in cycles of relapse and remission. Without proper treatment, addiction tends to be progressive and can result in severe disability or premature death.
More recently, research has shown support that the same neurological changes in the brain’s reward pathway that underlie substance use disorders are likely related to other addictive behaviors such as compulsive gambling, excessive spending/debting, and sexual acting out.
What about addiction treatment?
Over the years, many different treatments that have been developed for those struggling with addiction. In the outpatient setting, addiction treatment modeled on evidence-based practice typically is composed of a combination of counseling, group therapy, peer- support groups, and when appropriate, medication management.
According to research, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI), contingency management, and self-help groups are the most effective psychosocial approaches to addiction. 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or AA, have historically helped thousands of individuals stay sober. Practices such as meditation, mindfulness, and yoga can also be very beneficial to those in recovery from an addiction.
There are several medications approved by the FDA that are used to treat addiction. These include disulfiram (Antabuse), acamprosate (Campral), naltrexone (Revia), and the long-acting injectable form of naltrexone known as Vivitrol. There are also other medications, such as neurontin (Gabapentin) that are used “off-label” to treat addiction. Medications to help relieve withdrawal symptoms early in the recovery process can also be beneficial and are sometimes needed in order to do so safely.
Extended-Release Naltrexone (Vivitrol©):
At High and Grounded Wellness, Dr. Ryan Lee prescribes and administers Vivitrol© to patients in our private and discrete outpatient setting
Vivitrol© is an evidence-based, once-per-month, injectable medication used for the treatment of alcohol and opioid addiction. The active ingredient in Vivitrol©, naltrexone, is an opioid receptor antagonist.
For opioid addiction, naltrexone blocks opioids from attaching to the opioid receptors in the body. If an individual introduces an opioid into his or her body while taking naltrexone, the typical effects of the opioid (such as euphoria, analgesia, and respiratory depression) are blocked. This offers a source of protection from opioid cravings and relapse.
When alcohol is ingested, the body releases natural “feel good” chemicals that send signals of pleasure and reward to the brain. Overtime, this reinforces the act of drinking as a positive experience that overrides negative experiences, or consequences. Alcohol further stimulates the body to release endogenous, or naturally produced opioids, which reinforces pleasure and reward.
Naltrexone blocks these naturally produced opioids from attaching to the body’s opioid receptors. In this way, naltrexone blocks the reinforcing effects of alcohol. Studies show that individuals who take naltrexone have less cravings, stay sober for longer periods of time, and of those who may relapse, tend to get back into sobriety faster.
Schedule a Medication-Assisted Treatment Consultation Today!