If someone has been struggling with an addiction to drugs, it can seem ludicrous to treat their addiction with pharmaceuticals. Why would you give drugs to a drug addict? You don't give a recovering alcoholic a six-pack in the hopes it will keep him away from the hard stuff. Yet medication can be a very effective way to combat certain drug addictions.
First, keep in mind there are many pharmaceuticals that can be used. Some have nothing to do with the addiction itself, but assist with its underlying causes, such as anxiety, depression or trauma. Others do directly combat the addiction, inhibiting cravings for example. Methadone, a popular drug used to treat heroin addiction, eliminates physical withdrawal symptoms when taken daily. Then, once patients are at an effective dosage, they no longer crave heroin. If they decide to use it again anyway, the methadone blocks the euphoric high that the drug typically brings [sources: Riverwood Group, LLC, Sheff].
Another drug, Antabuse, blocks the processing of alcohol in your body, so you vomit, get nauseous or experience chest pains if you drink after taking it. It's used for treating alcoholics in conjunction with counseling [source: Drugs.com]. Finally, addicts taken to the hospital are often detoxified through the use of medications.