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Medication and Counseling Treatment

Medication and Counseling Treatment

When struggling with addiction finding a path to recovery can be hard. There are several different treatment options that can be taken, and working with a professional can help guide you to the best treatment plan. Dr. Charles Buscema and Addiction Alternatives is a team of professionals that can walk you through your recovery treatment.

One option that is proving to be successful at treating not just the disease but the person is medication-assisted-treatment or MAT.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, which is effective in the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD). MAT should be used in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. Providing both will be a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Research shows that a combination of medication and therapy can be a successful treatment of these disorders, and for some people struggling with addiction, MAT can also help sustain recovery.

MAT is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers that contain opiates. The prescribed medication operates to normalize brain chemistry. The medication blocks the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative effects of the abused drug. Medications used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). MAT programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each patient’s needs. There is a risk involved with MAT medications and patients that suffer from depression and anxiety and are worked with closely with their Doctor.

Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs)

Opioid treatment programs (OTPs) provide MAT for individuals diagnosed with opioid use disorder. OTPs also provide a range of services to reduce, eliminate, or prevent the use of illicit drugs and eventually improve the quality of life of those receiving treatment.

OTPs must be accredited by a SAMHSA-approved accrediting body and certified by SAMHSA. Learn more about the certification of OTPs and SAMHSA’s oversight of OTP Accreditation Bodies. Medications used in MAT for opioid treatment can only be dispensed through a SAMHSA-certified OTP.

Counseling and Behavioral Therapies

MAT patients must receive counseling, which could include different forms of behavioral therapy. These services combined with medical, vocational, educational, and other assessments and treatment services with help with the overall patient health.

MAT Effectiveness

In 2018, an estimated 2.0 million people had an opioid use disorder related to prescription pain relievers, and about 808,000 had an opioid use disorder related to heroin use. MAT provides a more comprehensive and individually tailored program of medication and behavioral therapy to patients with  a goal of full recovery. MAT also includes support services that address the needs of most patients.

The ultimate goal of MAT is full recovery. Throughout this treatment approach it has been shown to:

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment
  • Improve birth rates among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant

Medications Used in MAT

FDA has approved several different medications to treat opioid addiction and alcohol dependence. These medications relieve withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body.

There are three drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid dependence: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. All three of these treatments have been demonstrated to be safe and effective in combination with counseling and psychosocial support.

Opioid Dependency Medications

Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are used to treat opioid dependence and addiction to short-acting opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone. People may safely take medications used in MAT for months, years, several years, or even a lifetime. If you are planning to stop taking medications when going through MAT,you should consult with your doctor prior to going off the medications.


Methadone prevents the person from getting high by tricking the brain into thinking it’s still getting the abused drug.The person actually will feel normal, so withdrawal doesn’t occur. Learn more about methadone.

Methadone is the only drug used in MAT for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. Women must inform their treatment provider before taking methadone.


Buprenorphine suppresses and reduces cravings for the abused drug. It can come in a pill form or sublingual tablet that is placed under the tongue. Buprenorphine is very much like methadone, it helps with dependence and addiction.


Naltrexone works differently than methadone and buprenorphine in the treatment of opioid dependency. If a person using naltrexone relapses, using the abused drug, naltrexone will block the euphoric and sedative effects of the abused drug.

Naltrexone is also used to treat alcoholism by reducing your urge to drink alcohol. This may help you drink less or stop drinking completely. Naltrexone will not cause you to “sober up” and will not decrease the effects of alcohol you recently consumed.

Opioid Overdose Prevention Medication

FDA has approved naloxone, has an injectable drug used to prevent an opioid overdose. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), naloxone is one of a number of medications considered essential to a functioning health care system. Naloxone has been used in the form of Narcan, which is used by healthcare professionals and first responders have a life-saving method.

Alcohol Use Disorder Medications

Disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone are the most common drugs used to treat alcohol use disorder. None of these drugs provide a cure for the disorder, but they are most effective in people who participate in a MAT program. Learn more about the impact of alcohol misuse.


Disulfiram is a medication that treats chronic alcoholism. It is most effective in users who have already gone through detoxification or are in the initial stage of abstinence. This drug is offered in a tablet form and is taken once a day. Disulfiram should never be taken while intoxicated and it should not be taken for at least 12 hours after drinking alcohol. Unpleasant side effects such as nausea, headache, vomiting, chest pains, and difficulty breathing, can occur. Side effects can occur quickly, in as little as ten minutes after drinking even a small amount of alcohol and can last for an hour or more.


Acamprosate is a medication for people in recovery who have already stopped drinking alcohol and want to avoid drinking. While it works to prevent people from drinking alcohol, it does not prevent withdrawal symptoms. It has not been shown to work in people who continue drinking alcohol, consume illicit drugs, and/or engage in prescription drug misuse and abuse. Acamprosate will reach is max potential at 5-8 days of consecutive use. It is offered in tablet form and taken three times a day, working best when taken at the same time every day. The medication’s side effects may include diarrhea, upset stomach, appetite loss, anxiety, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping.


Unlike the other medications, naltrexone blocks the euphoric effects and feelings of intoxication, when used as a treatment for alcohol dependency. This allows people with alcohol addiction to reduce their drinking behaviors enough to remain motivated to stay in treatment, avoid relapses, and take medications.


When wanting to no longer be controlled by your addictions you should seek treatment from a professional.   Dr. Charles Buscema and Addiction Alternatives is about treating the person, not the addiction. They are a subscriber to MAT, and treating the person as a whole. Contact Dr Buscema today to get the help you deserve. They are here to answer questions and get you on the road to recovery today.



Outpatient Addiction Treatment

Outpatient Addiction Treatment

When a patient comes to Addiction Alternatives whether they are struggling with a severe addiction to certain substances, such as heroin or oxycodone, or have a milder substance abuse problem, Dr.Charles Buscema will evaluate their needs. Some levels of addiction are typically best treated in an inpatient residential program to help manage detoxification and withdrawal. However, some patients cannot afford nor have the time to uproot their life to help fight addiction.

Outpatient rehab is ideal for people who are motivated to stop using their substance of choice but require the flexibility of a program that will work around their schedules. At Addiction Alternative, the focus is on various Outpatient rehabilitation programs that suit the patient’s needs.

Outpatient rehab can be a more affordable and effective form of drug treatment, but it isn’t necessarily right for everyone. Dr. Charles Buscema will evaluate to see if the following criteria are met, generally, those individuals do not fare best in outpatient addiction treatment:

  • Patients with severe addiction and need the 24-hour support of an inpatient rehab facility.
  • Anyone who is a danger to themselves or others.
  • Individuals without a strong support system and who face temptation in their day-to-day life (for example, if their family members or roommates use drugs or alcohol).
  • Addicts who have a history of chronic relapse.

If any of the above is met, then these patients tend to need more support than an outpatient rehab program can offer.

What Is Outpatient Rehab?

Outpatient rehabilitation programs are a form of treatment that works around an individual normal day to day life. Depending on the severity an outpatient rehab program will offer drug and alcohol treatment sessions that are scheduled during select times throughout the week, tailored for the individual. This schedule will allow patients to continue with their responsibilities and continue living at home, the caveat is they are required to check into treatment at their allotted times for counseling and medication.

Outpatient programs come in a variety of formats, differing levels of intensity and offer an array of services — but the general focus is on counseling, education and providing a network of support.

Some of the services offered include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy
  • 12-Step work
  • Alcohol and drug education
  • Spirituality group
  • Men’s group
  • Women’s group
  • Relapse prevention
  • Life skills
  • Re-socialization skills
  • Pharmacological treatment
  • Mental health treatment
  • Referrals to sober living houses

Individuals with a strong will to succeed in recovery and who have a committed, disciplined approach may benefit from an outpatient treatment program.

Benefits to Outpatient Treatment


Most outpatient rehab centers have lower costs. Inpatient programs can be expensive and generally require a significant out-of-pocket expense. Alternatively, Outpatient rehab is less expensive across the board, while still providing high-quality treatment.


Outpatient rehabilitation offers patients the ability to continue with work and/or school. In contrast, residential treatment program requires recovering addicts to put their lives on hold while they pursue their recovery. An outpatient addiction program allows participants to maintain a presence at work and/or school. Which can lead to building better relationships with family and friends as well as allow the person to support their family financially.


As previously mentioned, outpatient treatment is significantly more affordable than traditional inpatient treatment programs. But, it goes beyond that, with the person being able to keep up with a job and earn their living with seeking help. The patient will be able to support his family, new drug-free lifestyle and have a better sense of self because of having better financial security.

Support Systems

A huge benefit to outpatient rehab is the access to support systems. People going through recovery need a lot of support. With outpatient rehab, patients can stay in close proximity to their loved ones and their support network.

Continuing Care

Continuing care groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, AA, or Narcotics Anonymous, NA, are ongoing support resources to help an individual solidify their commitment to sobriety. These groups are typically facilitated by a licensed therapist and meet weekly. Some continuing care groups may be gender-specific or age-specific, and others may focus on a particular aspect of recovery.  Dr. Charles Buscema will be able to assist with finding the best continuing care that suits the patient’s needs.

Seeking treatment whether inpatient or outpatient is the first step in recovery. The Team at Addiction Alternative will assess and ensure the best treatment is provided.

If you have further questions or are ready to get the help you need, reach out to Dr. Charles Buscema, at Addiction Alternative, to get you on the path to recovery.

International Overdose Awareness

International Overdose Awareness

Addiction Alternatives wanted to take an opportunity to remind everyone that August 31st is International Overdose Awareness Day. This day is internationally recognized as an international opportunity to stand together for those that we have lost, family members as well as their loved ones to remind them that they are not alone and to honor them.

International Overdose Awareness was originally established in Melbourne, Australia in 2001. This global event gives us the opportunity to raise awareness of overdose-related deaths as well as an opportunity to spread the message of addiction as a disease.

On August 31st, we will all stand together to take a moment to honor and remember those we have lost while also reaching out our hands to help prevent more loss in the future of loved ones and their families.

The Goals of International Overdose Awareness Day

International Overdose awareness day is an opportunity for loved ones, families, friends and the community to publicly mourn the loss of addicts in a safe as well as accepting environment. Last year, more than 500 events spanned across the globe bringing awareness to overdose-related deaths and the disease of addiction. August 31st marks the day to educate the community on the Treasure Coast of the risks of fatal and non-fatal overdoses. The establishment of this day helps to promote a strong message against the stigma with addiction and overdoses.

International Overdose Awareness Day is the communities opportunity to partake in genuine conversation regarding drug use and overdose without the fear of judgment in a safe environment. At each of these events on the Treasure Coast and nationwide, resources and support services will be available for individuals and their families struggling with substance abuse. These resources and services will also be available to provide information to friends and family members of addicts.

August 31st, every year is our opportunity to bring more awareness to the disease of addiction and overdose awareness in order to prevent and decrease the number of drug-related deaths in the future.

How To Show Support on International Overdose Awareness Day

Wearing Purple

If you would like to show support on International Overdose Awareness Day, wearing a purple wristband, lanyard or badges are one way to signify the support of overdose awareness as well as signifying the loss of a loved one. Wearing purple wrist bands, lanyards or badges on August 31st is one of many ways to help reduce the stigma behind drug addiction and overdoses. At Addiction Alternatives we believe that every person deserves a chance to recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. The stigma behind drug abuse often makes recovery difficult and makes the conversation of overdose complicated and confusing for many individuals.

Learn More about Overdose

As the abuse of addictive substances continues to rise, we see now more than ever the widespread fatality from overdose-related deaths. It is important as ever that friends, family members, and each community is aware of the risks associated with drug use, how to get help as well as what to do in the case of an overdose. International Overdose Awareness Day is an opportunity to reduce the stigma of drug use by learning about overdose and drug abuse in order to help addicts find the help they need. Family and friends play a vital role in making resources available to those who are searching for a way out of their drug addiction.

Important Things To Consider For Overdoses

  • A drug overdose is clinically defined as when your body can no longer cope with the amount of drugs in your system.
  • Overdoses are not limited to the specific classification of drugs. Nearly all drugs including alcohol can result in an overdose. However, depending on the drug symptoms may vary.
  • Depressants (including alcohol) and opioids slow down the vital activities in the body including breathing and heart rate—putting users at greater risk for overdose.
  • Stimulants increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, seizure or drug-induced psychotic episodes—potentially resulting in overdose and death.
  • Medications should be locked up and kept out of reach of children. Even if the bottle says it is childproof, children can be clever and often more capable than we think.
  • Call an ambulance if you think someone is at risk for overdose. Many states including Florida have implemented Good Samaritan laws that protect those who call the authorities to help in an overdose situation (even if the person calling has been using as well).
  • Signs include, but are not limited to:
  • Seizures
  • Severe headache
  • Chest pain
  • Breathing difficulties (snoring, gurgling)
  • Paranoid, agitated or confused
  • Non-responsiveness, especially to stimulation such as shaking, shouting, or a rub to the sternum with the knuckles
  • In many cases, an opioid overdose may be reversed

Educate Yourself on Naloxone

“According to the CDC there were 63,632 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2016, 42,249 of these deaths (66%) involved some type of opioid, including heroin.” – Center for Disease Control.

Naloxone or better known as Narcan continues to grow as a proactive method for reversing the effects of overdoses. Narcan continues to reduce the number of drug-related deaths each year.

Narcan is a medication that can be given as an injection as well as a nasal spray that serves an antidote to opioid overdoses. Narcan works by reversing the effects of respiratory depression which is the leading cause of opioid-related deaths.

From 1996 through June 2014, surveyed organizations provided naloxone kits to 152,283 laypersons and received reports of 26,463 overdose reversals. Providing opioid overdose training and naloxone kits to laypersons who might witness an opioid overdose can help reduce opioid overdose mortality.” – Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Attend an Activity

There are many different activities available on International Overdose Awareness Day. Addiction Alternatives suggests attending an event near you on the Treasure Coast. Events range from Black Balloon release ceremonies to presentations from doctors in order to help provide the communities with more ways to learn about overdose-related deaths.

If you, or someone you know if struggling with drug or alcohol abuse and are not currently interested in attending a 12-step program or unable to attend a residential inpatient program, Addiction Alternatives offers outpatient programs to help ensure all addicts have an opportunity to recover. Our IOP program offers the same services as inpatient programs except our clients can continue on with their daily lives in an outpatient setting. This will allow those in need of flexibility an opportunity to recover.


Is Your Spouse Suffering from Addiction?

Is Your Spouse Suffering from Addiction?

Addiction is a chronic mental and medical illness that affects the brain and continues to adversely affect millions of Americans. Substance abuse and addiction not only cause physical harm but also affect the individual’s emotions while often causing behavioral issues. Individuals suffering from addiction cannot control their impulses. Untreated addiction can lead to life-threating consequences.  If you know or suspect that a loved one is facing addiction, it is important to first identify symptoms and consider consulting Addiction Alternatives where a mental health professional can advise you on how to proceed. Remember that addiction is neither your fault nor the fault of your loved one.

Physical Signs of Addiction

Often times, physical symptoms can lead to an initial assumption of an individual suffering from addiction. Substance abuse can lead to as well as aggravate different types of symptoms. When trying to assess whether your spouse or loved one is struggling with addiction, one of the first steps is to look for clear physical signs. If you think that your loved one may be struggling with addiction, the general physical symptoms of addiction to look for are described below.

  • Repetitive speech patterns, red eyes, and dilated pupils. Repetitive or irregular speech patterns are the result of changes in areas of the brain that control that function. Red and dilated pupils are a direct response to the use of substances. These are indicators that can be detected right away.
  • Over-active or underactive. Watching for extreme signs of changes in energy level are also a tell-tale sign of substance abuse. Keep an eye out of random burst of energy or extreme fatigue in your loved one.
  • Weight loss and change in eating habits. Extreme signs of weight loss can also be a sign of substance abuse or addiction. Look for their clothing to fit looser or just not fitting their frame the same way it once did. Often times, they may look pale or undernourished. You may notice your loved one eating more frequently or they may even abstain from food.
  • Body odor and/or other unusual odors. Personal hygiene often tends to fall by the wayside for someone suffering from addiction. This is due to the individuals growing inability to cope with stress and lack of energy levels. The impulsive nature of addiction causes individuals to disregard their once healthy habits of daily living.

Do not solely rely on physical symptoms to determine if your loved one has a problem. It is important to also look for signs of emotional or behavioral signs as they are all linked together. It is never too soon to voice your concerns to your loved one if you suspect they may be suffering from an addiction.

Emotional Signs of Addiction

Emotional or behavioral issues may be harder to determine as addiction produces a number of negative emotions making relationships with family and friends difficult and frustrating. Detailed below are common emotional symptoms of addiction to watch out for.

  • Denial. A person suffering from addiction can fall into two categories of denial. They can either admit the use of substances but minimize the severity. Or they can completely change the topic to avoid the conversation altogether. An individual suffering from addiction may or may not realize the negative effects of their disease but regardless are unable to stop due to a loss of control.
  • Decreased ability to handle stress. Often times, addiction and substance abuse can lead to a loss in of interest in their own lives, the lives of others and even activities they frequently loved or took part in.
  • Increased irritability. Unfortunately, your loved one is likely to become more defensive and argumentative. This behavior often leads to rationalizing and blaming others for their behavior. This includes finding excuses and other explanations for their using behavior, as well as placing the blame on another person or situation for their behavior.

Behavioral Signs of Addiction

Behavioral changes often accompany the physical and emotional changes in a person who is suffering addiction. Behavioral symptoms begin to develop as changes in the brain begin to occur. It is important to remember that your loved one is not a bad person and they are unable to control their decisions and behavior at this point.

The impulsive and compulsive behavior present in the beginning will often lead to more risky behavior. This is due to the fact the addiction actually hijacks your spouse’s control and judgment. Behaviors can range from engaging in criminal behavior, stealing, financial difficulties, as well as driving under the influence. Relationships are often strained between the addict and their families and friends. These relationships are strained through lying, manipulating and other negative behaviors. It may be difficult for your spouse to experience joy and happiness in the same things they used to.

What Can I Do to Help?

Many loved ones have asked us at Addiction Alternatives, “what can I do to help my husband/wife”? Our advice is to make sure you are having open and honest, judgment-free conversations. If they feel attacked they are less likely to be willing to hear your concerns. While it may be difficult to remain calm during this time, it is important to not take out your anger on your spouse. At this point, it is important to remember not to enable their behaviors. This includes lending money to them or lying for them. When the conversation turns to their addiction, finish off with a suggestion to seek professional help.

When To Seek Professional Help

If your loved one is struggling from addiction, they need to seek treatment with the help of health professionals as soon as possible. Anyone can achieve sobriety regardless of how long they have been struggling with this mental disease. Addiction is treatable with the appropriate treatment protocol, which consists of combinations of behavioral therapy, prescribed medications, evaluation and treatment for other underlying conditions, and follow-ups. Tailoring treatment programs to address the distinct needs of each patient, Addiction Alternatives is dedicated to guiding and assisting their patients on their way to recovery. Now is the time to get help, so call today!



Addiction & Chronic Pain

What is the process for diagnosing addiction? Addiction Alternatives

Addiction & Chronic Pain?

A vast number of individuals who struggle with addiction often face other conditions that seem to complicate their substance abuse disorder. In some instance, chronic pain or other physical health problem have at time exposed these individuals to addictive prescription drugs to combat the pain. This exposure is often the root to the initial physical dependence linked to their addiction.

Individuals with chronic pain or other physical conditions may have initially began taking the prescriptions to relieve their pain, however, the highly addictive qualities of these drugs have in return forced individuals to take more than what was prescribed. These individuals may at some level continue taking the drug to deal with the pain, the excessive amount these individuals take is actually used to feed their addiction.

It is often difficult for individuals with chronic pain to come to grips with their addiction as the idea of being addicted to the substance that “helps” their pain is hard to fathom. While the substance has in some way reduced the pain, when these individuals attempt to discontinue use, their pain returns. Of course, for individuals with chronic pain, this is a true concern when entering addiction treatment as the use of these prescription drugs must be discontinued. It would defeat the purpose of addiction treatment to continue use and make recovery impossible.

What Types of Chronic Pain Can Rehab Help You Relieve Naturally?

Some conditions leave both patients and providers without a diagnosis for the pain and thus resort to treating the symptoms of pain with addictive prescription drugs. Typically, resorting to these methods are in an effort to improve the patient’s day to day life by reducing the pain.

There are several commonly known conditions that cause severe and chronic pain. These conditions may include:

  • Congenital malformations
  • Acute and chronic illness
  • Acute injuries
  • Conditions that affect eh nervous system’s ability to function properly

For Patients with The Above Chronic Conditions, Your Needs Will Be Assessed Prior to Intake

It has been our experience at Addiction Alternatives that many patients fear their medical conditions whether physical or mental illness will not be considered during their treatment plan. This is actually not true. At Addiction Alternatives, we understand the importance of determining causes and conditions linked to the addiction in order to better the chances of long term recovery.

It has been found that individuals with chronic pain and mental illness who are not treated for their other conditions often relapse after completing treatment as they have no defense against the pain or mental condition.

For this reason, Dr. Buscema and our nurse practitioner will evaluate your needs while also teaching you to cope with the symptoms. As you begin your treatment protocol with Addiction Alternatives we will help you either determine a much lower does to help you manage your pain or to find new ways to deal with the pain. Our goal is not to have your sober and in pain, our goal is to have you sober and in less to no pain.

How Will Your Addiction Treatment Program Help You Cope with Pain?

While it is our goal to help you wean off of your pain medication completely, there are rare circumstances where a recovering addict must remain on a small regulated dose of a pain management prescription. If possible, we attempt to find a non-narcotic version that is not addictive to help you manage your pain.

Certain types of cognitive behavioral therapy have shown benefits to reducing chronic pain in recovering addictions. Various types of counseling are specifically designed to address pain management while also assisting in the process of reducing drug cravings. 

There are also other physical activities that been known to help the body manage pain more efficiently. These physical activities work to strengthen your muscles, increase muscle endurance and increase mobility. These activities are linked to the reduction of inflammation that is usually the root cause of pain. While there are other causes of pain, the primary cause is usually linked to increased inflammation that if managed or treated, can reduce the pain for recovering addicts.

Examples of pain management physical therapies may include:

  • Yoga
  • High-intensity strength training
  • Meditation
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Massage therapy

At Addiction Alternatives we understand that the thought of dealing with your chronic pain while pursuing a sober life may be a scary thought. However, with our help, you can begin a positive road to recovery comfortably.

For more information about our out-patient program at Addiction Alternative, contact us at 772-618-0505.