Role of Pharmacokinetics in Addiction Treatment
What is Pharmacokinetics?
Knowledge of pharmacokinetics is not new. The history of pharmacokinetics dates to Germany in 1913 when researchers published an equation describing how enzymes metabolize drugs.1
The pharmacokinetics process is best described as what the body does to a drug. It describes several steps as the drug moves through the body, including absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion.2
Pharmacokinetics vs. Pharmacodynamics
There is a difference between pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, which describes what a drug does to the body. Understanding these terms means different things when considering the impact of specific medications used as part of a treatment program.
What is the Significance of Pharmacokinetics in Addiction Treatment?
The pharmacokinetics of drugs describes how the body interacts with and processes drugs. When people seek help to overcome addiction, providers need to know how the body reacts to each drug. Knowledge of each step of the pharmacokinetic process helps treatment providers develop effective treatment plans that involve medication assistance (MAT) with the least risk for harmful side effects.3
Pharmacokinetics Analysis Processes
Absorption in pharmacokinetics describes the path a drug takes as it moves from the administration site (where it entered the body) to the site of action (the location in the body the drug is designed to affect). Also called medication absorption, absorption in pharmacokinetics helps determine how fast a drug is absorbed into the body. It also determines how much of the drug is absorbed.4
When people talk about the excretion of a drug (removing the drug from the body), they often refer to the half-life of drugs as part of the process. The half-life of drugs is commonly addressed as part of the pharmacokinetic process to describe aspects of drug absorption and drug excretion (elimination).5
Factors for Extending Drug Absorption
Route of Administration
Other factors that impact the effectiveness of absorption include specific drug-food interactions that change how the body interacts with a particular drug and the chemical properties and formulation.
Factors that Affect Drug Metabolism
Specific enzymes affect the pharmacokinetic process and, more specifically, how the body metabolizes drugs. Several factors impact how these enzymes work and how drugs are metabolized. The first factor is genetics. Specific genetic characteristics may affect whether someone metabolizes drugs quickly or more slowly.
Another factor unique to the individual is age. As we age, the speed of liver function slows, and therefore the rate at which the liver can metabolize drugs also slows. Conversely, infants and newborns with immature liver function may also metabolize drugs at a slower speed and require special dosing to ensure they are safe from an overdose.
Factors That Affect Drug Excretion
Pathologies That Impact Renal Blood Flow
Importance of Pharmacokinetics for Drug Companies and Patients
Understanding pharmacokinetics is essential for patients as well. When patients are prescribed a drug (or take one over the counter), knowing how that drug will interact with any other prescription or non-prescription drugs is vital for avoiding a potentially dangerous drug interaction.
Knowledge of Pharmacokinetics
- Pharmacokinetics analyses help describe drug exposure timelines and drug interactions.
- It can help medical and mental health providers determine accurate and safe dosing requirements.
- It can also help providers modify dosing requirements based on the pharmacokinetic process for a specific drug or patient need.
- Pharmacokinetics helps providers offer an educated estimate on drug absorption and elimination rate.
- Understanding the pharmacokinetic process also helps providers determine safety margins for drug dosing.
Medical and Mental Health Providers
A clear understanding of pharmacokinetics is crucial to medical and mental health providers alike. Knowing how the body will process a particular drug is beneficial in developing safe and effective treatment plans that involve administering medications to those struggling with drug or alcohol addictions.
Due to the fact that many substances remain present in the body far longer than symptoms of their use, it is crucial to understand how each drug may interact with another when prescribing addiction treatment medications. Knowledge of each step of pharmacokinetics helps addiction treatment providers like ours here at Concise Recovery ensure each patient receives effective, accurate, and safe treatment.