Most of us can relate to the term "addiction" in some capacity, whether it's something we eat (like chocolate) or something we do (like check Facebook). The term is used loosely and often doesn't imply a true problem in one's life. In medical care, addiction is more strictly defined as a substance use disorder, with common substances including alcohol, opiates, stimulants, and sedative-hypnotic drugs (like Xanax). Addictive disorders are common. For example, in any year 8.5% of American adults meet criteria for an alcohol use disorder. In recent years "behavioral addictions" have been receiving more attention, including problematic use of the internet, video games, social media, and pornography, in addition to more well established problematic behaviors such as gambling and over-eating.
Seeking treatment for addictive disorders can seem like a complex and daunting endeavor. It is not uncommon for people considering treatment to question whether their substance use meets criteria for "addiction" or know where to start to begin to address the problem. At Psychiatric Medicine Associates all of our providers have experience in recognizing addiction and can serve as a good resource for getting started on the path towards treatment and recovery. Additionally, several of our providers are board-certified addiction specialists who can provide more definitive evaluation and treatment of addictive disorders.
Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a growing area of interest within medicine, and even though it has been available for over a decade, is woefully underutilized. For example, less than 10% of people seeking care to manage an addiction for alcohol are even offered the consideration of non-addicting medication that can greatly improve their chance of achieving and maintaining recovery. This includes acamprosate and naltrexone. There are similar medications in the management of opioid use disorder, including buprenorphine (commonly referred to as Suboxoneä) and naltrexone (or Vivitrolä), that are even more impressive in managing this potentially deadly disorder.
Appropriate treatment of an addictive disorder depends greatly on the unique details and characteristics of an individual's situation, including the presence of a co-occurring condition such as depression or anxiety. Patients seek evaluation for a variety of reasons. Some patients present seeking help with maintaining sobriety, others may need help addressing out of control substance use, and there are some patients who seek evaluation because they suspect their substance use may not fully be in their control and they are interested in starting a conversation about it before things get out of hand. Our addiction specialists can help determine what elements of treatment are most urgent and appropriate and assist with setting up a treatment plan that can include some combination of medication, psychotherapy, involvement in community resources, and at times referral to a higher level of care such as medical detox or residential treatment.
If you are seeking care for addiction, especially for opioid addiction, be sure to let our reception staff know so they can direct your case to the appropriate clinician. All of our addiction specialist are authorized to prescribe buprenorphine (Suboxoneä) for addiction and understand the importance of timely intervention.