What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Learn about medication-assisted treatment and its effectiveness in substance use disorder recovery here.

The Effects of Addiction

Substance use disorder (SUD) is a debilitating disease that can cause several harmful conditions and negatively impact a person’s life mentally, physically, and socially. One of the symptoms of SUD is the behavioral influence on the brain, changing one’s priority to focus on the substance and how to obtain it. So, the person may divert money that should be better allocated to their daily needs. 1

Read on in the following article to learn more about the impact of addiction as well as treatment options to overcome this issue.

Does Addiction Negatively Impact Wellness?

As a result, addiction commonly leads to a lack of necessities and proper self-care, severely altering and impeding on a person’s life. Substance use disorder can also affect a person’s relationship with other people. They may become secretive and prefer to live in solitude to avoid judgment from others concerning their substance intake.
Further, they may even damage their interpersonal relationships in pursuit of resources that will help them accrue more of their addictive substance. Essentially, substance use disorder negatively affects a person’s quality of living.

Questions About Treatment?

Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.

Does Addiction Negatively Impact Wellness?

As a result, addiction commonly leads to a lack of necessities and proper self-care, severely altering and impeding on a person’s life. Substance use disorder can also affect a person’s relationship with other people. They may become secretive and prefer to live in solitude to avoid judgment from others concerning their substance intake.
Further, they may even damage their interpersonal relationships in pursuit of resources that will help them accrue more of their addictive substance. Essentially, substance use disorder negatively affects a person’s quality of living.

Questions About Treatment?

Our team is standing by to address your questions. Your call is confidential and no obligation is required.

Medication Assisted Treatment

The Recovery Process

A person with substance use disorder might want to stop but find it difficult because addiction causes changes to the brain that initiates strong cravings that must be satisfied. So, even willpower is not just enough. Nevertheless, recovery is very much possible with the right treatment methods.

Stages of Recovery

The four stages of the recovery process developed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse include treatment initiation, early abstinence, maintaining abstinence, and advanced recovery. 2

The abstinence stage can be tough because addiction symptoms include strong cravings and withdrawal side effects that could be life-threatening. This is why treatment is imperative. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an effective coping mechanism and treatment method that can help during recovery.

How Medication-Assisted Treatment Plays Into Recovery

Medication-assisted treatment involves the treatment of substance use disorder with behavioral therapy and medications clinically tailored to a patient’s need. During treatment, especially detoxification, MAT can effectively reduce cravings and symptoms. In cases of relapse, MAT helps to block some properties of certain substances that essentially feel good. This can subsequently lead to long-term abstinence.

The success rate of medication-assisted treatment has encouraged its use in treating substance abuse disorders. MAT programs can also assist in lowering the risk of overdosing on opioids or opiates-containing prescription medicines. These approved medications work to ease the physiological cravings that drive addiction and restore normal bodily processes, making this method effective and helpful.

Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Really Work?

The director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Dr. Nora Volkow, confirmed the effectiveness of medically assisted treatment. According to her, “studies have shown that outcomes are much better when you are on medication-assisted therapy.”

Dr. Volkow explained that MAT reduces the risk of relapse to a large extent, helps in the prevention of infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis C, and helps to prevent overdosing. These are some of the outcomes of medication-assisted treatment. 3

Types of MAT Medications

To treat substance use disorder using MAT, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved certain medications found suitable and safe to use during treatment.⁴ Reduced cravings and nullifying the effects of opioids are some of the expected outcomes of medication-assisted treatment medications. Some of these medications are explained below.

Methadone

Methadone medication-assisted treatment involves using an opioid agonist (methadone) to treat opioid use disorder (OUD). It helps to reduce opioid cravings and withdrawal. It is also effective in blocking the effect of opioids. Methadone medication-assisted treatment should only be effected under the supervision of a physician.  

Buprenorphine

Approved by the FDA, buprenorphine is another medication used in MAT alongside behavioral therapies to treat OUD, providing a whole-person approach to patients. This medication is available to patients in physician’s offices, increasing access to the treatment.  

Naltrexone

This non-opioid, non-addictive medication is also approved by FDA as a treatment option for alcohol use disorder (AUD) and OUD. For AUD, the medication is available in pill form. It is also available as an extended-release intramuscular injectable for both OUD and AUD. Only practitioners licensed to prescribe medications can prescribe and administer this medication to patients.  

What Is MAT Therapy Used For?

MAT is often used to treat opioid addictions, such as heroin and opioid-containing prescription pain medicines. Counseling and various forms of behavioral therapy are used in the therapy component of treatment to help individuals overcome their addictive tendencies. MAT is also useful as a treatment option for alcohol use disorder.

Alcohol Detox

This is the first step in treating AUD. It involves the cessation of alcohol from the body. The challenges one encounters with a sudden stop of alcohol intake are serious withdrawal symptoms. Disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate are the most commonly used drugs in MAT for AUD.

Naltrexone blocks the euphoric effect of alcohol, disulfiram helps alleviate symptoms post-detox, and acamprosate helps prevent relapse.

Stimulant Detox

When someone with stimulant use disorder ceases use, they will suffer withdrawal symptoms as their brain relearns how to operate without them. Although stimulant withdrawal isn’t always fatal, it can lead to major complications. Thus, MAT therapy provides a way for safe detoxification by minimizing withdrawal symptoms.

Opioid Detox

Opioid withdrawal syndrome is a potentially fatal illness caused by OUD. MAT helps combat the problems that can come from opioid withdrawal. Short-acting opioids like heroin, morphine, and codeine and semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone are treated with buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. These MAT medications can be used for months, years, or even a lifetime with no side effects.

Before ceasing the use of any drug, it is important to consult with a doctor.

MAT Effectiveness

Most patients’ needs are met with medication-assisted therapy because it is a carefully planned combination of medication and behavioral therapy. The high success rate and efficacy of medication-assisted treatment in patients is the most striking advantage of this treatment:

Improve Patient Survival

MAT helps people with substance use disorder cope in the recovery process, providing safe, approved medications instead of harmful ones.

Increase Retention in Treatment

Patients who receive MAT are more likely to stick with their treatment plan.

Decrease Illicit Drug Use and Criminal Activity

The MAT medications for OUD effectively help combat the psychological craving for opioids during the withdrawal process. The decreased desire for the drug reduces the need to obtain it illegally, reducing criminal activity.

Increase Patient’s Ability to Gain and Maintain Employment

Research shows that patients who have been on MAT for at least one to two years had the best long-term success rates. Being able to abstain will help in getting a job and keeping it.
Medication Assisted Treatment

Medication-Assisted Treatment at Essence Health &Wellness

At Essence Health & Wellness, we prioritize each patient’s treatment journey and ultimate recovery. With that, we have composed healing programs to fit people’s personal needs and expectations.

Our Detoxification Program

Detoxification is the first step toward starting the journey to recovering from substance use disorder. It involves ridding the body of all harmful substances. This process can be tough for anyone without treatment, but we have designed a medically-assisted treatment program to help patients fight off the cravings and give them a better chance at long-term abstinence. Our clinicians are also on standby all day long, giving each patient the compassionate support they need.

Our Rehabilitation Program

Our MAT program uses evidence-based, solution-oriented strategies. The program’s key components are:

  • Adding a medical component
  • Family education and treatment provided in a holistic manner
  • Continued support, monitoring, and communication at all levels of care
  • Participation in treatment programs

Contact Us to Learn More

Helping every person who walks through our door get back to an addiction-free life is our priority. We will provide the resources needed to aid substance use disorder recovery and guide patients through the process, providing support during the entire treatment plan. Contact Essence Health & Wellness now to book an appointment. This is the beginning of your journey to recovery.