Medication Management

What is medication management in rehab and how can it help in recovery? Learn how South Coast Behavioral Health helps those with co-occurring disorders recover from substance abuse with psychiatric medication management services.

Navigating the complexities of addiction and mental health requires a holistic and personalized approach, especially when it comes to the management of psychiatric medications. Understanding that each individual’s journey is unique, our dedicated page on psychiatric medication management seeks to provide comprehensive insights into how these medications work, their potential benefits, and considerations for their use.

At South Coast, our goal is to empower you with knowledge, offering assistance in navigating the intricacies of treatment options to help you make informed decisions about your mental health care. Whether you’re exploring treatment for the first time or looking to strength your recovery supports, we’re here to guide you every step of the way.

medication management

What Is Medication Management?

Some people believe that using medication to treat addiction and maintain sobriety is wrong, akin to not being in treatment. This belief is not only incorrect, but it is also harmful. While important, detox services and behavioral therapies may not be enough by themselves to promote sustained recovery during and after treatment.

Individuals with co-occurring disorders often need medication management services to treat their underlying symptoms. In doing so, clients can focus on recovering from substance abuse. Comprehensive treatment programs integrate medication management alongside therapeutic and educational services for a complete holistic treatment experience.

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What Co-Occurring Disorders Are Treated With Psychiatric Medication?

Psychiatric medication management for co-occurring mental health disorders is an important part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Often, medications are very important for treating different kinds of mental health problems and substance use disorders.
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Psychiatric medications are used to treat mental health disorders such as:

Types of Medication Used to Treat Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorders

Medications used to treat co-occurring mental health disorders will vary by the disorder.  Psychiatrists will often suggest medications to treat a variety of mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. In some cases, antipsychotics may be prescribed to help with mood swings associated with drug or alcohol-induced psychosis, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. Medications may also be prescribed to help manage symptoms of anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure, which is common during the early stages of recovery.

Common types of medications for co-occurring disorders:

It is important to remember that everyone is different and treatment plans will vary from person to person. Speaking with a mental health professional who specializes in medication management for co-occurring mental health disorders can help to define your needs and which treatment options will be most beneficial for you.

Medication for Anxiety and Depression

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, people with depression, and anxiety disorders are twice as likely to engage in substance abuse as the general population. The use of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications can help improve a person’s likelihood of recovery and sustained sobriety.

Types of medications used to manage the symptoms of anxiety and depression include:

Antidepressants are often prescribed to people with depression. In general, these medications help reduce feelings of sadness and can be used to treat major depression, dysthymia, as well as anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder. It’s important to understand that antidepressants are not a cure for depression but rather a way to manage symptoms so that people are better able to live healthier lives.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, commonly known as SSRIs, are the most popular class of antidepressants. SSRIs increase serotonin levels in the brain by inhibiting its reuptake into the nerve cells. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being. Although the exact mechanism is not well-understood, by increasing levels of serotonin, SSRIs have the potential to reduce depressive symptoms. They can also be used to treat anxiety. Common SSRI brands include Lexapro, Zoloft, and Prozac.

Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs)

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are another class of antidepressants that can also be used to treat anxiety. Like SSRIs, they block the reuptake of serotonin. The difference is they also block the reuptake of a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine, responsible for focus and memory recall. Popular SNRI brands include Cymbalta, Effexor, Pristiq, and Paxil.

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) are an older class of antidepressants that have been in use since the 1950s. Like SNRIs, TCAs increase serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain. They often have more side effects than newer medications and are used less often today. Some notable TCA brand names include Anafranil and Norpramin.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)

MAOIs were the earliest developed class of antidepressants. Doctors may prescribe them off-label to treat panic disorder and social phobia. They have been discontinued many places due to a range of unpleasant side effects and interactions with alcohol and other drugs. MAOIs increase serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels in the brain. Brands include Nardil, Marplam, and Emsam.


Benzodiazepines are sedative drugs that relieve physical signs of anxiety, such as stiff muscles. These medications also promote relaxation, and their effects are immediate. Because of this, some doctors prescribe them alongside an SSRI, with the benzodiazepine providing immediate relief while the SSRI takes 2-4 weeks to build up in the bloodstream. Popular benzodiazepine brands include Xanax, Librium, Valium, and Ativan. With that being said, benzodiazepines are rarely used in the treatment of addiction and co-occurring anxiety due to the drug’s potential for dependence and abuse.


Antipsychotics are a class of psychiatric medications used to manage psychosis. Psychosis is a condition in which a person loses touch with reality. Mental health disorders that fall under the label of psychosis include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, severe depression, and some forms of bipolar disorder. Many of these disorders co-occur with SUDs. For example, one study found that 47% of people with schizophrenia have an addiction.

Sometimes psychosis can be brought on by drug use. This is known as drug-induced psychosis. Drug-induced psychosis occurs when a person experiences elements of psychosis due to their substance abuse, such as hallucinations or delusions.

The use of antipsychotics in medication management is highly individualized and depends on many factors, such as the type and severity of symptoms, the presence of other medical or psychiatric conditions, and the patient’s response to previous treatments. Antipsychotics may be used as a monotherapy, or in combination with other medications, such as mood stabilizers or antidepressants, to optimize treatment.

Mood Stabilizers

Mood stabilizers are a class of medications used to treat and manage mood disorders such as bipolar disorder. These medications help to stabilize the mood swings experienced by individuals with bipolar disorder, reducing the frequency and severity of manic or hypomanic episodes.

Bipolar disorder is a mental illness consisting of dramatic shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels. There are two types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I disorder and bipolar II disorder. People with bipolar I disorder experience manic episodes which last for at least seven days. People with bipolar II disorder experience hypomanic episodes (milder mania) and depressive episodes.

Substance use disorders are prevalent in individuals with bipolar disorder, with estimates suggesting that up to 40% of individuals with bipolar type I disorder may also have a substance use disorder. Substance abuse can worsen the symptoms of bipolar disorder and make it more difficult to manage the condition. It is therefore important for individuals with bipolar disorder to receive appropriate treatment and support to manage their substance use and improve their health and well-being.

The use of mood stabilizers in the management of bipolar disorder is effective in reducing the frequency and severity of manic and depressive episodes. These medications can help to improve functioning and quality of life for individuals with bipolar disorder. It is important to note that mood stabilizers are not a cure for bipolar disorder, and ongoing medication management and support are necessary for successful dual diagnosis treatment.


Stimulants are a class of drugs that increase feelings of alertness, energy, motivation, and enthusiasm. They do this by speeding up your body’s Central Nervous System (CNS), which is what transmits messages back and forth between the brain and the body.

While open to abuse, studies show that when prescribed, stimulants can also be used to medically manage several co-occurring mental health disorders, most notably ADHD. Known under the full label of Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, this disorder is a condition that affects a person’s ability to focus and regulate their impulses and emotions. People with ADHD are at twice as high a risk for developing a SUD as those without.

Stimulants work differently for those with ADHD. It’s thought that the brains of those with the disorder have low levels of dopamine, causing a person to feel restless and unable to focus. The idea behind medication management of ADHD is that by increasing the person’s dopamine levels in the brain, they are less impulsive and more able to focus.

Studies show that access to stimulants in patients with ADHD decreases the likelihood of addiction to alcohol and other drugs.

The Importance of Medication Management And Therapy in Treatment for Substance Abuse

Quality addiction treatment centers offer medication management in combination with therapy which can lead to better outcomes and a more comprehensive approach to treatment. It is important to note that medication is just one aspect of treatment. In order for treatment to be most effective, medication management services should be provided in conjunction with other therapies, such as individual and group therapy.

In general, talk therapy helps individuals gain insight into their thoughts and behaviors, learn more effective coping strategies for managing symptoms, and develop healthier relationships. It also provides a safe space for patients to share their emotions without judgment or criticism. By combining both medication and talk therapy, individuals can gain better control of their mental health. 

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What Are the Benefits of Medication Management?

The use of psychiatric medication management during rehabilitation is an important aspect of dual diagnosis addiction treatment. There are several benefits to incorporating medication management into a rehabilitation program. It can help manage the symptoms of co-occurring mental health disorders, such as anxiety and bipolar disorder, making it easier for individuals to focus on their recovery.

Benefits of medication management include:

Aside from symptom management, using medications can also help to reduce the risk of relapse by addressing the underlying cause of addiction and reducing cravings. Simply put, medication can improve functioning and quality of life, allowing individuals to engage more in their rehabilitation program and other daily activities.

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medication management

FAQ About Medication Management

People have a lot of questions when it comes to medication management during treatment for substance abuse. Here are some of the most common so you’re informed about South Coast's medication management services.

When treating co-occurring disorders, the goal of psychiatric medication management is to reduce symptoms, improve functioning, and help individuals stay on track with their treatment plans. When prescribed correctly, medications can have a positive effect on an individual’s quality of life. However, it is important to be aware that some medications can have side effects. It is important to discuss possible side effects and any other concerns with a mental health provider.

When an individual starts taking psychiatric medications, they should monitor the symptoms closely with their mental health provider. Regular check-ins can help identify any issues or changes in the individual’s symptoms. A person may need to adjust the dosage of the medication, switch to another medication, or receive additional treatments.

It is important to make sure that a person takes their medications as prescribed and reports any side effects or changes in symptoms to their mental health provider. It is also important to be aware of potential drug interactions with other drugs and supplements. Taking multiple medications can increase the risk of side effects and drug interactions.

If a client has co-occurring disorders, they have any combination of:

  • A substance use disorder or poly-substance use disorder
  • One or more mental health disorder(s) 

An official diagnosis is provided to clients who fit the criteria for one (or more) substance use disorders and one (or more) mental health disorders outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5-TR). 

Therapists offer crucial support through counseling, yet they often lack the qualifications to prescribe medication. This duty generally rests with psychiatrists, medical doctors who have specialized in mental health, providing them with the necessary training to prescribe treatments.

Medication Management Services at South Coast Behavioral Health

At South Coast Behavioral Health we understand that dual diagnosis treatment is an essential part of recovery that needs a multi-faceted strategy. Upon checking yourself in for treatment, you will undergo a series of assessments. In general, these tests evaluate your physical and mental health. Your results will allow us to determine what co-occurring mental health disorders you may have alongside your addiction, as well as how severe the conditions are.

We provide psychiatric medication management services for conditions including (but not limited to):

Clients who struggle with a substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health disorder often struggle to manage their distressing symptoms. For this reason, our psychiatric care provides the experienced perspective of our licensed clinicians. Throughout treatment, our clients can work with their clinical team to address their symptoms with medication management.

Our medication management services help clients find relief from a wide range of symptoms, some of which include:

What To Expect During Treatment with Medication Management?

After your intake assessments, you’ll then proceed to medical detox. Knowing that detoxification entails the removal of all addictive substances from the body, medical detox programs often provide medications for symptom management within a medically-assisted treatment program (MAT). Like psychiatric medication, a variety of MAT medications can help in suppressing cravings and withdrawal symptoms, both during detox and after.

Once you complete the medical detox, we can then begin treating both your substance abuse and any co-occurring disorders you may have using medication management. This can take place under a variety of different levels of care, depending on the severity of your condition.

Regardless of what level of care you need, our medication management services will involve close collaboration with your psychiatrist and medical doctor and regular check-ins from our nursing staff to monitor your progress.

Continuing Care Services For Medication Management

While in treatment, you will participate in regular follow-up appointments with your medical team to discuss your progress in recovery. For those receiving medication management services, these routine appointments provide you with one-on-one time with our doctors so that you can bring up any side effects with your doctors and have any questions answered. Sharing honest feedback about your physical and emotional well-being will help our team of medical professionals to ensure that medications are taken as prescribed, which is essential for your recovery.

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Medication Management Services in Orange County, California

Co-occurring mental health disorders can make the already-imposing challenge of substance abuse seem impossible to face. But dual diagnosis addiction treatment can effectively treat these issues, helping you to regain control of your life.

If you or a loved one is currently in recovery from substance use disorder, South Coast Behavioral Health is here to help. Throughout our full continuum of care, we provide evidence-based treatment for co-occurring disorders like depression and anxiety. Our clinical teams are highly experienced in treating complex cases of addiction, allowing us to provide the highest level of personalized care possible. 

The levels of care we offer include:

Finding the right health system for primary care is key for patient care and patient safety. Our patient care programs for employ a combination of therapies and medications tailored to your needs, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and trauma-informed care. Our medication management process offers health care you can trust. Our medication therapies administered by our care team of health care professionals ensure medication safety for all. Check out our patient portal quick links below! You can also follow South Coast Behavioral Health on social media!  

We also offer a variety of holistic therapies to help you stay physically healthy and emotionally balanced during recovery, such as yoga, mindfulness meditation, and art therapy. With the support of our team of professionals, you can develop skills to manage your co-occurring disorders and live a healthier life through our medication therapies. Patient safety is a top priority for our primary care providers. 

If you are looking for help with addiction or any co-occurring mental health disorders, call us at (866) 881-1184. Our highly qualified staff are available 24/7 to answer your questions. All calls are free and confidential.

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