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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Antipsychotics Ineffective Treatment for Recovery

There isn't a science associated with helping people recover from drug and alcohol addiction, no formula to make everything better. Every case is different, what worked for the last patient may or may not work now. It is often the case that people checking into treatment facilities are dealing with other psychological disorders that hinder recovery. Such cases are classified as "dual diagnosis" or "co-occurring disorders" and generally require more attention from doctors or specialists. Doctors in the recovery field will, at times, use medications typically used for other disorders to treat patients dealing with substance abuse - "off label". In some cases this practice has helped people recover, but, there are a number of cases that certain medications have exacerbated the problem.

Drugs known as anti-psychotics are often used in the treatment and recovery field to help patients get well. A new report points out that this tactic is not effective in treating addiction. People who show signs of other mental health problems on top of addiction are sometimes given drugs typically used for anti-psychosis and in some cases they have proven to be useful in evening out one's brain chemistry. When anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications do not appear to work doctors will often turn to anti-psychotics.

The most common drugs prescribed are:
  • Risperdal
  • Abilify
  • Zyprexa
  • Seroquel
Data was combined from 162 studies of atypical antipsychotics prescribed for “off label” uses by researchers from RAND Health in Santa Monica, California. Their conclusion from the studies was that the drugs did not have an effect in patients with drug and alcohol abuse, or with eating disorders. Antipsychotics showed side-effects such as:
  • tremors
  • stroke
  • weight gain
  • fatigue

People entering drug and alcohol treatment should be informed about the drugs they are being prescribed. People need to take an active part in their recovery and should be informed about the medications that are given to them.

The report was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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