When patients embark on the programme they will receive a medical and addiction assessment. Alcohol and many drugs have physical as well as psychological consequences and it is important that these are elicited at the first point of contact. Specific drugs of abuse may also require specific medical interventions. For example, in alcohol rehab treatment there are medications that target different areas of the brain resulting in different outcomes. Naltrexone, which is an opiate blocker which has been used as a relapse prevention drug for heroin users. It is thought to have a role in reducing craving in people with alcohol problems by reducing the endorphin associated euphoria that drinkers get in anticipation of the next drink. It can be effective in reducing alcohol use but also is helpful in patients who are trying to achieve abstinence.
Antabuse is a drug that interferes with the breakdown of alcohol in the liver resulting in an unpleasant reaction if drink is taken whilst taking the drug. It is a medication that should only be used if abstinence is the goal.
Any medication is more effective if they are combined with talking therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy.