Clinical trials and clinical studies, using patented drugs and drugs off patent, provide data that impact the best treatment practices for substance abuse and dependence. In the United States, medications have been approved for use in the treatment of both alcohol and opioid dependence. Medications are used in the detoxification from drug abuse and dependence in the symptomatic relief of withdrawal. For long term treatment or medical maintenance treatment, medications eliminate the physiological effects of drug use by blocking drug-receptor binding in the brain. Therefore, patented drugs showing interactions with neurotransmitters in the brain, are attractive candidates for treatment efficacy trials. An effective long term treatment paradigm for reducing drug dependence is the combinatorial use of medications that block the effects of drug use with behavior change counseling and psychotherapy. Medications used for the long term treatment of opioid dependence are methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Pharmacotherapies used in the treatment of alcohol dependence include acamprosate, antabuse and naltrexone. A reliable indicator for successful treatment of drug dependence is time in treatment. Patients remain in long term treatment when they perceive that their health care environment is supportive and non-stigmatizing and with a good patient-provider relationship where their needs are identified and met. Additional medications are needed for individual comprehensive substance abuse treatment plans, particularly for individuals who abuse stimulants. Patented drugs remain an important source of candidate pharmacotherapies comprising medication assistant treatment, part of a comprehensive treatment plan for drug dependence that addresses the medical, social, and psychological needs of the patient. Adapting this drug treatment paradigm globally requires identifying and testing new drug candidates while building and changing programs to patient centered treatment programs that promote access to care and treatment and integrate medical, psychological, and social services.
Pharmacotherapy, addiction, methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, opioid dependence, alcoholism
Division of Pharmacological Therapies, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, Substance Abuse andMental Health Services Administration, 1 Choke Cherry Road, Rockville, MD 20857.