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Alternatives to Traditional Inpatient Treatment

No matter what pathway to recovery an individual chooses, they should always be informed and educated on all aspects of their choice. I discussed the pros and cons of inpatient substance abuse treatment in the previous blog post.  But are there treatment alternatives if inpatient treatment is not the right fit for you? The answer is a definitive YES! This blog would turn into a book if I reviewed every option, so I’ll just highlight a few solid alternatives to traditional inpatient treatment.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is used primarily for the treatment of opiate addiction. Some medications used in this process are Methadone, Suboxone and Vivitrol. These three medications work very differently. Methadone and Suboxone were created to prevent withdrawal symptoms and to sustain the addict on a maintenance program, keeping them off their illicit opiate of choice. They are both narcotics that must be taken daily. While many have had success with these two drugs, there is the potential for abuse. Both are highly addictive and require a weaning process, which is often drawn out much longer than necessary.

Vivitrol – the brand name for Naltrexone — is a different type of medication. It is a non-narcotic and non-addictive shot that is given every 30 days. Vivitrol curbs cravings and negates the effects of opiates by blocking opiate receptors in the brain. Most people experience minimal-to-no side-effects.  The major issue in undertaking this therapy is that you must be detoxed before the shot is administered.  But there is a means of speeding up the process known as Sedation-Assisted Detox.

With sedation-assisted detox, you are put under a mild sedation for a short period of time (usually around 45 minutes) while a doctor administers medication to essentially force the opiates from the part of the brain where they reside. Vivitrol is quickly injected as a substitute.  The opiates cycle back to their receptors and find that they are blocked. Unable to bind, the opiates will break down and leave the body in our waste. You will stay with the medical staff for a few days to be monitored. You will also receive medications to combat any residual detox symptoms as all remaining opiates are leaving your system. This process has the highest success rate, along with being the easiest and most comfortable. You are supported on the Vivitrol for three months after the initial shot and a therapist sets up aftercare services at your home locale. One huge benefit is that you are home within three days of initial treatment. You will be very tired, but you’ll no longer require opiates to “be well.”

The most unfortunate issue is that most insurance plans will not cover this procedure and treatment. There is often financing available, so don’t assume that this is out of reach.

There are also many different areas of holistic treatment, enough to write an entirely separate post. But some of the highlights include using herbs and acupuncture for detoxification, meditation or yoga for relaxation and stress, exercise and diet, or a treatment program that supports mind, body, and spirit as a whole.  Consider acupuncture. Not only does it aid in detoxification, but it eases withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, cravings, irritability, inability to focus, and muscle aches. Most areas of holistic treatment are the same; they have multiple benefits and everything is natural. The detox process is much more uncomfortable without the use of narcotics or sedation. But by many accounts it is an amazing way to recover and has some measure of success. It can be very intricate and detailed, so it is best to seek the help of a professional who has been trained in holistic treatments.

These are just a few examples of the many alternatives to inpatient treatment. If you are trying to decide what is the best fit for you, research all your options and make an informed decision. It is a personal decision that only you can make. Just make sure you make it for YOU, not for those around you. If you believe that a certain treatment is going to stop your opiate use, then you fight any obstacle to get what you need. This is life and death and we cannot afford to wait another day.

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