When it comes to helping people that are dealing with an opioid or alcohol addiction, many treatment providers turn to medication-assisted treatment, or MAT. Unlike some other addiction treatment methods, MAT focuses on treating patients with a “whole body” approach to care. This means that it focuses on just more than getting you off of drugs; medication-assisted treatment also addresses the underlying mental and emotional issues that contribute to your addiction. It also addresses any medical issues you may have as a result of your addiction. MAT programs do this by combining behavioral therapies and medications together into a comprehensive treatment program.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Often the most difficult thing about overcoming an addiction to opioids is just how unpleasant withdrawal and drug cravings are. Medication-assisted treatment helps to address both of these concerns, helping people to stay drug-free for longer periods of time. The medications used in MAT can help with substance use disorder and addictions to any type of opioid, including heroin, morphine, and codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and fentanyl.
- Buprenorphine – This medication helps to reduce cravings for opioids.
- Naltrexone – This medication prevents users from getting high if they take opioids.
All three of these medications interact with the same area of your brain that opioids do. This means that they essentially trick your brain into thinking that you are still using opioids, which helps reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. These drugs do not, however, get you high. They are considered safe and effective for opioid addiction treatment, and can be used for months or even years if you continue to need the relapse-prevention support that they provide.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Those dealing with a severe alcohol addiction, sometimes called alcoholism, can also benefit greatly from MAT. There are currently three different medications that are utilized during alcohol MAT, which include:
- Naltrexone – This medication helps people to reduce or avoid alcohol use by blocking the euphoric effects from drinking. This helps to keep people motivated to avoid drinking, stay in treatment, and avoid relapse.
- Disulfiram – Disulfiram should only be used after a person has detoxed from alcohol. This medication helps people avoid relapse by making them have unpleasant side effects if they do drink. These include nausea, headache, vomiting, and difficulty breathing. Even a small amount of alcohol can cause these effects when someone is taking disulfiram.
- Acamprosate – This is another medication that helps people with an alcohol addiction to avoid relapse by helping to reduce alcohol cravings. People in recovery usually begin this medication after five days of being alcohol-free, and is a good option for long-term recovery support. It is not effective, however, if you continue to drink large amounts of alcohol, or abuse prescription or illicit drugs.
When it comes to addiction treatment, there is no such thing as the “right” way to go about recovery. What is important is finding a treatment program that is going to address your individual needs in the most effective way possible. While medication-assisted treatment can be a great option, it is not right for everyone. You should weigh the pros and cons in order to make the right decision for you. The pros of MAT include:
- Lessened risk of overdose due to opioid relapse
- Relief from unpleasant or difficult withdrawal symptoms
- Relief from opioid cravings
- A lower risk of experiencing a relapse
- Decreased rates of contracting diseases like HIV and hepatitis
The potential cons of MAT include:
- Small risk of addiction to methadone or buprenorphine if you misuse or abuse them
- Frequent clinic or medical office trips for medication dosing
- Difficulty finding a MAT program near you
- The high cost of treatment, if your insurance does not cover it
Is Medication-Assisted Treatment Right for You?
Medication-assisted treatment has been found to be a very effective treatment option for opioid and alcohol addiction. It also significantly decreases the need for inpatient detoxification programs, which can be difficult for some people to commit to. MAT programs help people to achieve more comprehensive recoveries, and get on the path to living a normal, independent life. If you are not sure whether or not MAT is right for you, you do not have to make the decision alone. We are here to help you to weigh the pros and cons of MAT, as well as design the most appropriate MAT program for you. Contact us today to learn more about what is medication-assisted therapy, and how it can help you reclaim your life from addiction.