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Addiction Treatment and Weight Loss: An All-in-One Fix?

By: Carol Morriscey

A new combination of two commonly used treatments in addiction rehabs presents some exciting possibilities to simultaneously treat addiction and weight loss!Overweight and in Rehab

Obesity has been deemed an epidemic in North America, posing a serious risk to public health. Increased availability of high fat and high calorie food, in combination with the rise in prevalence and degree of sedentary lifestyles, has led to a substantial increase in rates of obesity and being overweight. Indeed, many men and women seek support in their diet and weight loss journey.

Unfortunately, the problems of obesity and being overweight are accentuated in drug rehabs. Drugs of abuse are often associated with weight gain, either during the period of addiction, or following addiction treatment, during abstinence. For example, opioid use is associated with heightened cravings for sugar and preference for sugary foods. As a result, when food is readily available, intake of unhealthy food increases, and weight gain ensues. An addiction to alcohol can directly lead to weight gain, due to the high caloric content of alcohol, assuming regular food consumption continues. Further, depressants like alcohol can lead to increased food consumption. Similarly, marijuana is commonly known to cause increased food consumption, typically referred to as the ‘munchies’. Alternatively, stimulants such as cocaine reduce food consumption during the active stages of addiction, but later lead to compensation and increased consumption once in an addiction treatment program.

Weight problems are closely intertwined with addiction treatment, and thus must be considered at drug rehabs. Healthy diets and exercise are encouraged at Sobriety Drug and Alcohol Rehab. Our Nutritionist creates individualized diet and meal plans for our patients, in order to give them the tools required to achieve their weight loss goals, while simultaneously achieving sobriety. Yet, there may be a new tool on the horizon!

Naltrexone and Bupropion Have Been Used in Drug Addiction and Alcohol Abuse Treatment for Many Years

Naltrexone is used in drug and alcohol rehabs to treat alcohol and opioid addictions. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, meaning it prevents the effects of opioids, including feelings of euphoria and well-being. When the effects of opioids are blocked, craving for drugs are reduced. Therefore, it is able to significantly reduce the likelihood of relapse. Naltrexone is used in combination with counselling and therapy in drug and alcohol rehabs as an aid in the addiction treatment process.

Bupropion is another commonly used treatment for women and men struggling with cigarette addiction—a common comorbidity with other addictions. Bupropion works by reducing the cravings for cigarettes and thus their use. In addition, bupropion is frequently used to treat depression, a prevalent problem in drug rehabs.

New-Found Benefits in Combining Medication for Drug Addiction and Alcohol Abuse Treatment

Despite the long history of use of both naltrexone and bupropion in alcohol and drug rehabs as an aid in addiction treatment, there continue to be new uses for the drugs. Most recently, a combination of both naltrexone and bupropion has been created in order to aid in weight loss. This new combination, called Contrave, interacts with the parts of your brain responsible for sending “hunger” signals to your body and your mesolimbic reward system responsible for cravings. As a result, it is able to reduce hunger and cravings, leading to an increased likelihood in weight loss success in women and men.

Recovery Benefits for Patients Suffering from Drug Addiction and Alcohol Abuse

A common concern among women and men when going through addiction treatment is weight gain and subsequent weight loss. Although naltrexone and bupropion are not individually approved for the treatment of weight loss, and Contrave is not yet approved for the treatment of addictions, this new use of naltrexone and bupropion in combination presents exciting future possibilities. With further research, it may be possible to treat a wide array of concerns associated with addiction treatment, including treatment for weight loss or depression, with one pill! Sobriety Home strives to provide our patients with cutting-edge, evidence-based treatments. We look forward to the opportunity Contrave presents to provide our patients with the tools required to achieve their weight loss goals.

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