Approximately 40 million people in the U.S. suffer from substance abuse disorders (SAD), and the number is expected to grow as other forms of addiction, such as gambling and video games, take a bigger toll on the population. Currently, there are about eight drugs to treat addiction, and it isn’t surprising that these aren’t always helpful in treating patients since the people with SAD exhibit various symptoms which may not always respond to the existing pharmaceutical options.
Consequently, there is a huge need to think outside the box and come up with novel ways to treat SAD. Here are three of those new approaches.
Non-Hallucinogenic Psychedelic Modalities
The existing treatments for addiction operate along the lines of substitution in which an addictive substance is replaced with one that has a lower health risk. For example, cigarette smokers are encouraged to switch to nicotine patches since the patch is known to carry fewer risks than cigarette smoke does.
Psychedelics are offering a novel way of treating addiction. Rather than look for less harmful but still addictive substitutes, the psychedelic remedy, such as the 18-MC drug developed by Mind Medicine, appears to confer lasting treatment effects even after a patient has got just one dose. The medicine works by targeting and rewiring the dopamine center in the brain so that the person stops depending on that substance which they had become addicted to.
Microchip Data Collection
The reality is that a number of people suffering from SAD are elderly and have other conditions (comorbidities), such as high blood pressure, arthritis or diabetes. These patients therefore take a variety of medications for those conditions, and a lot is unknown about the drug-on-drug effects of taking the drugs concurrently. Adding drugs to treat SAD can worsen the drug-on-drug interactions, and this is where the novel methods of treatment come in.
Innovators are introducing chips which can gather vital information about liver toxicity and other physiological or mental effects of different medications. Such data is necessary, especially given how strong mental health drugs are and the long durations during which patients are required to take them (some patients take these drugs throughout their lives).
Apps to the Rescue
Another new approach to treating addiction takes the form of a mobile phone app. This tool helps patients to communicate anonymously with other people suffering from substance abuse disorders, and they get the support and encouragement they need to stay clean. The app even has a provision for playing a pre-arranged message to motivate a person who is about to stray.
For example, an alcohol addict can receive a message from their little daughter just as the patient is entering a bar to take a drink. The message reminds the patient about why they need to stay sober, and this can pull them back from the brink of a relapse.
These new approaches are all exciting because they bring a novel angle to managing substance abuse disorders. It remains to be seen which ones will take hold in the market and become the new norm in addiction treatment.
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