South Africa is burdened by many substance abuse related issues. Cheap easily accessible drugs are common and there is a thriving market place comes with significant drawbacks. We decided to get some feedback from a medical professional on most commonly used drugs in medical assisted detox and treatment in South Africa.
Common addictive substances in South Africa include:
- Prescription drugs such as diazepam, phenobarbital, pethidine and morphine among many others.
The greater part of addiction treatment doesn’t involve use of medications in South Africa.
Counselling and behavioural changes assistance takes the lead in helping addiction victims. Where drugs are used, it is for some of the following reasons.
- Treatment of acute substance poisoning
- Treatment of withdrawal symptoms
- Treatment of problems associated long-term substance abuse.
Every substance abused has specific ways it affects the body. For this reason, there is no one approach that benefits all addicts in the same way. Since alcohol is the most abused and addictive substance in South Africa, let’s consider some of the drugs used when treating addicts in this group. The drugs discussed can only be given in a rehabilitation center under the supervision of a mental health trained professional.
- Disulfiram. This is a drug that leads to great revulsion to alcohol. Taking alcohol while on the drug can lead to serious side effects.
- Naltrexone. This is an opioid antagonist that has shown reduction of alcohol craving. It is also used in those who have stopped taking narcotics.
- Acamprosate and topiramate can also be used to reduce alcohol craving during early phases of rehabilitation.
Drugs used in alcohol withdrawal crisis
These medications are used for stabilising body systems.
- Antiemetic drugs. This alleviates symptoms of nausea and vomiting.
- Anticonvulsants used for stopping and preventing further fits seen in some alcohol addicts. The class of drugs mostly used here are the benzodiazepines like diazepam and clorazepate which are also effective in reducing anxiety and agitation
- Withdrawal symptoms can also include cardiovascular disorders. Beta blockers such as Inderal and atenolol are used to handle alcohol heart related issues.
Many alcohol and other addicts in South Africa usually show some degree of nutritional deficiency symptoms. A common alcoholism induced disorder is the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Addicts with this problem are put on Vitamin B complex preparations.
Medication used in heroin addiction.
South Africa’s drug regulator, pharmacy and poisons board allowed Methadone use in heroin addicts (also used for other narcotics addiction) seeking rehabilitation. The drug prevents withdrawal symptoms. As mentioned at the outset, medications in addiction treatment play an important but supplementary role to counselling and other mental health support.