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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

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

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

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

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

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.

Naltrexone

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.

Resources

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.