Experimental Treatments for Addiction

Current statistics show that over 20 million people struggle with addiction in the United States. Deaths from opioids were five times higher in recent years with over 42,000 people dying last year from opioid overdose. Currently the cost of treatment for addiction and incarceration due to addiction is costing taxpayers over $700 billion dollars annually. Even after treatment, 60-80% of people still relapse within their first year of sobriety. The medical and professional communities are trying to create treatments that help improve rates of sobriety and reduce risk of relapse.

The medical community currently focuses on drugs that people in recovery can use to help with cravings and impulse control. Addiction is a brain disease that needs interventions that address the chemical needs of the brain when the substance is removed. There are a few drugs on the market that are being used to target and block the brain receptors that the drug or alcohol target. The medical world is trying to work on medications that target different aspects of dopamine while also creating vaccines to target the substance while it is in the bloodstream. These new medications are still being vetted and will continue to rely on the patient to take them regularly.

The mental health field is also looking beyond traditional face to face therapy to see if any experimental therapies are more effective in treating substance abuse. Many treatment centers across the country use different forms of experiential therapies, such as equine therapy, art therapy, and music therapy. Some treatment centers are branching out into the field of neurofeedback to see if it can help someone who is struggling with staying sober. Neurofeedback results can help the patient see how their brain waves work and then learn how to alter them. Other treatments, like yoga and mindfulness, are being used to help people in recovery be more aware of their thoughts and feelings and how to react to them positively. Exercise and nutrition are also being used to help people in recovery learn more about their health and wellness.

There are many ways to treat addiction, so it is important to explore all options. Being able to try new things can help a person struggling in their recovery break out of the rut they are in and potentially save their life.