Medications for Drug Withdrawal and Detox:

Medications can be extremely effective in helping clients to safely stop abusing drugs and alcohol. These medications often relieve withdrawal symptoms either by replicating the effects of the drug at a lower intensity or by treating symptoms like irritability, anxiety or seizures directly. Other drugs used in addiction treatment, like naltrexone and acamprosate are designed to reduce cravings rather than relieving withdrawal symptoms. It is critical to recognize that the use of these medications have been shown to dramatically prevent relapse because they alleviate withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Medical support improves outcomes for clients and may often prevent overdose deaths.

They might address the changes in the brain that occur due to chronic drug abuse or help to mitigate cravings. In some cases, they might even mimic the action of the addictive drug in the brain and help clients to avoid the bulk of withdrawal symptoms. Research is ongoing in this area. There are even vaccines in development that might one day help people to avoid experiencing the addictive high that often triggers addiction. Not all substances of addiction have medications that are approved for use during the withdrawal process. But according to the National Institutes of Health, the following drugs might assist with detox:

When clients seek help through a medically supervised detox and drug rehab or addiction treatment program, they will have access to medications that can help them cope with withdrawal symptoms. These medications may include:

  • Clonidine
  • Haloperidol
  • Bupropion
  • Gabapentin
  • Librium, Tranxene, Valium (for alcohol detox)

Scientifically Proven Benefits of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

  • Higher levels of engagement in psychological and Behavioural intervention
  • Increased rate of treatment compliance and retention in treatment
  • Decreased opiate use
  • Decreased criminal activities
  • Lower incidence of overdose
  • Minimization of overdose deaths and improved survival rate


It is important to note that Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) or addiction needs to be managed by a well trained, credentialed medical professional. There are known side effects associated with of MAT and drug-drug interactions with other medications have also been known to exist. Also, MAT may be counter-indicated for some clients with specific medical conditions. For example, anyone who suffers from kidney problems should not take the drug Acamprostate which is used in the treatment of alcohol dependence, while Naltrexone can be hazardous to anyone with preexisting liver damage. Because each individual can react differently to MAT, it is important that clients are instructed to contact their physician immediately if they are having any adverse side-effects as a result of these medications.