treating substance use disorders
and Treating Clients with Impulsivity, Compulsivity and Addiction
Pharmacotherapy practice to treating substance use disorders is often referred to as medication assisted treatment (MAT) (Sharp et al., 2018). In this practice, specific medications approved by Federal Drug Administration (FDA) are used in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies in treatment of a substance use disorder (Sharp et al, 2018) Medications can reduce the cravings and other symptoms associated with withdrawal from a substance by occupying receptors in the brain associated with using that drug (agonists or partial agonists), block the rewarding sensation that comes with using a substance (antagonists), or induce negative feelings when a substance is taken ( SAMHSA, 2016). MAT has been primarily used for the treatment of opioid use disorder but is also used for alcohol use disorder and the treatment of some other substance use disorders. This paper focuses on pharmacotherapy approaches to treatment of alcohol use disorder, gambling disorder and smoking addiction in a 53 year- old female of Puerto origin.
Decision Number One
Naltraxone (Vivitrol) injection, 380 mg intramuscularly in gluteal region every four weeks.
Rationale: Pharmacotherapy should be used in patients with alcohol use disorder who have current, heavy use and ongoing risk for consequences from use, motivated to reduce alcohol intake and do not have medical contraindications to the individual drug choice (SAMHSA, 2016). As the 53 year-old female has acknowledged that she has a drinking problem and has tried psychosocial approach with alcoholic anonymous(AA) without success, adding medication such as naltrexone would be warranted as next step. In random clinical trials (RCTs) naltrexone medication has been shown to reduce heavy drinking and enhance the likelihood of abstinence ( Garbutt et al., 2014)
Naltraxone is mu opioid receptor antagonist, can be in form of oral ( Revia) and injection( Vivitrol) ( Stahl, 2017). Naltraxone is FDA approved to treat alcohol dependence, blockade of effects of exogenously administered opioids (oral) and prevention of relapse to opioid dependence (Stahl, 2017). Naltrexone reduces alcohol consumption through modulation of opioid systems, thereby reducing the reinforcing effects of alcohol and opioids (cravings, rewarding effects). Moreover, naltrexone also modifies the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis to suppress ethanol consumption.
The recommended naltrexone injectable (vivitrol) suspension is 380mg and should be administered via intramuscular (IM)injection to the gluteal area using the provided 1.5 inch 20-gauge needle(Drugs.com, 2017). Vivitrol is extensively metabolized in humans, and elimination half-life of naltrexone via injection is 5–10 days (Drugs. com, 2017) Common side effects of naltrexone are nausea, headache, and dizziness, joint or muscle pain which subside with continued use. Special considerations include that vivitrol should not be given to patients taking opioids, and if opioids are required to treat pain, naltrexone should be discontinued. Naltrexone is contraindicated in acute hepatitis or liver failure.
The advantage usage is that naltrexone can be initiated while the individual is still drinking (Canidate et al., 2017) This allows treatment for alcohol use disorder to be provided in community-based practice at the point of maximum crisis without the need for enforced abstinence or detoxification, thus beneficial for the client. Additionally, depot preparations of naltrexone may improve adherence by reducing the frequency of medication administration from daily to monthly and by achieving a steady therapeutic level of medication, thus avoiding peak effects that can exacerbate adverse events.
The reason I did not select disulfiram (Antabuse) which by intent leads to adverse effects ( nausea, vomiting, metallic taste, tachycardia) when combined with alcohol intake, was that it should only be used by abstinent patients in the context of treatment intended to maintain abstinence. In regards of Acamprosate, I did not select the medication because research indicates that Acamprosate should be used once abstinence is achieved (Yahn, Witterson, & Olive, 2013).
The main goal of prescribing medication for treatment for alcohol use disorder is abstinence, which remains a primary treatment focus. However, decrease of heavy drinking can be accepted as an alternative treatment goal, especially if unwanted risks (health, social and financial) are reduced.
The client returns four weeks after the injections, she has been sober since receiving injection, she denies any side effects from medications. The main chief complaint is gambling, but client is also concerned about her smoking and anxiety.