Medication Management in Outpatient Settings

Medication can be a useful tool for managing your mental and physical health. When you’ve struggled with addiction, you know it can also create more problems than it solves. Finding balance and keeping yourself safe and healthy isn’t easy. Medication management can make it simpler. Through medication management psychiatrists and other professionals offer support. They do so in both inpatient and outpatient settings. They can help you find the right medications, monitor side effects and adjust treatment at any point in the recovery process.

Is Medication Right for My Recovery?

Blue pillsMedication can be an important part of your recovery. It can help you manage withdrawal, avoid relapse and address co-occurring mental or physical health concerns. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration explains:“Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a ‘whole-patient’ approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Research shows that a combination of medication and therapy can successfully treat these disorders, and for some people struggling with addiction, MAT can help sustain recovery.”1 Note that medication will not be the only part of your recovery. It is not a substitute for inpatient or outpatient care. It is a supplemental tool that can be used alongside other forms of therapy.

Using Medications in Outpatient Settings

Prescription drugs like disulfiram (Antabuse) and methadone (Dolophine, Methadose) have been used for decades to help recovering alcoholics and addicts adhere to their recovery programs. Drugs like naltrexone (ReVia, Vivitrol), buprenorphine (Suboxone) and acamprosate (Campral) have been introduced more recently. Medication management helps you find the right medication and right dose. It helps you take your prescriptions regularly and safely. When medication management is part of your outpatient plan, you can receive and take your medications while participating in other recovery activities. There will be time and opportunities to talk about side effects and any changes you notice in how you feel or how your medication works.

Medication Management Timeline

La Paloma Treatment CenterMedication management may begin as soon as your recovery does. Certain prescription drugs can help you manage withdrawal symptoms. Medications are so useful in this stage of recovery that, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “One study of treatment facilities found that medications were used in almost 80 percent of detoxifications.”2 During detox medication can curb cravings and keep you safe. After detox medication management helps you comply with your treatment plan. Professionals in your outpatient treatment program can monitor your progress.Patients with co-occurring disorders can also get help managing the use of psychiatric medications like antidepressants, mood stabilizers or antipsychotic prescription drugs. Taking medications on a regular basis can be challenging for patients with co-occurring mental health disorders.The symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder can affect a patient’s motivation. Some psychiatric drugs can cause forgetfulness which may interfere with a medication schedule. Outpatient medication management programs can help you overcome these challenges so you can achieve your goals in recovery.

In the early phases of an outpatient treatment program, many patients take their medications at the facility under the supervision of a nurse, therapist or other member of the clinical staff. As you become more stable and advance in your sobriety, you may be allowed to take your medication at home. Your treatment team will assess your level of motivation to make sure you’re ready to manage this important component of your care. The further you advance in your recovery, the more independence you’ll have in managing your medications.

Making Medication Management a Part of Your Recovery

At The Oaks at La Paloma, we are uniquely equipped to help patients manage their medications. We specialize in helping people with co-occurring disorders lead full, healthy lives. To find out how outpatient care can benefit you or someone you love, call and talk with us today.


By Krystan Anderson, LPC-MHSP
Director, The Oaks at Foundation Memphis

1Medication and Counseling Treatment.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 28 Sep. 2015. Accessed 7 Nov. 2017.

2Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.” National Institute on Drug Abuse. Jul. 2016. Accessed 7 Nov. 2017.