Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Drug or alcohol detox refers to the process of gradually removing toxins built up in the body and the brain as the result of substance abuse. The experience comes with withdrawals and associated side effects, depending on the drug, frequency and duration of use, as well as the overall health of the client. However, with Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), detox and subsequent recovery programs allow for a tapered and gentler approach towards sobriety.
MAT uses medications in combination with behavioral therapies and counseling. This “whole person” approach to treating addiction is effective at helping people achieve and sustain sobriety.
Medications used for MAT are evidence-based and FDA approved. They do not just replace one drug for another. Currently, there are several medications that have been approved for MAT, including buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone. Continuum Recovery Center offers this treatment option to those recovering from an opioid use disorder or alcohol use disorder.
Why Medication-Assisted Treatment
Continuum Recovery Center provides Medication-Assisted Treatment to support the recovery process. This type of methodology combines behavioral therapies, cognitive therapies and medication for a true whole approach in addressing substance abuse.
On the face of it, prescribing medication may seem contrary to the purpose of addiction treatment. You might be asking yourself, “Why would anyone want to replace one drug for another?” However, the medications used for MAT are safe, effective and approved by the FDA. They have been proven to help people recover from opioid addictions and alcohol addictions.
Considerations for using Medication-Assisted Treatment include:
- Effectiveness. MAT is more effective than behavioral-only or medication-only treatment approaches. Rather than taking a one-sided approach, MAT addresses multiple aspects of a person’s health and well being.
- Bridges the gap. Transitioning to a normal routine at home is a challenge in early recovery, but MAT makes this process easier. Your physical and emotional symptoms are better managed, helping you to be stronger and more stable in your recovery.
- Affordability. Addiction is an expensive habit. Drug rehab is an investment, but insurance makes these costs more affordable. MAT ensures you get the most for your money because you’re receiving both behavioral therapy and prescription medications, most of which are affordable.
- Flexibility. MAT does not have to be a standalone treatment. Many inpatient and outpatient treatment programs use MAT during the detoxification process and throughout treatment. You can continue MAT outside of treatment as well.
MAT for Opioid Use Disorders
A cornerstone of finding the best and most effective addiction treatment is ensuring each client receives tailored choices for positive outcomes. MAT does that by bringing the benefits of time and healing into treatment, allowing each person the ability to recover and reach sobriety at a pace that works for them.
All medications used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration and have been studied and applied within the scientific and medical communities. Here are the three medications that have been approved by the FDA to treat an opioid use disorder:
- Methadone. Methadone is a long-acting full opioid agonist. It attaches to the same brain receptors as short-acting opioid painkillers but without producing the same highs and lows. This relieves cravings and stabilizes the body’s metabolic and hormonal functioning.
- Buprenorphine. This partial opioid agonist binds to the opioid receptors in the brain but has a milder effect. It reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms without all the highs and lows. Buprenorphine may be used on its own or in conjunction with naloxone.
- Naltrexone. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, meaning that it blocks the opioid receptors from activation. This decreases cravings and prevents opioids from creating a relaxing high.
Continuum Recovery Center will determine which medications are best and combine them with social support services and behavioral counseling for a full continuum of care. This way, you can heal from your addiction sooner and return to your family, job and community.
MAT for Alcohol Use Disorders
Alcohol use disorders benefit from Medication-Assisted Treatment as well. This is believed to be the case because the brain interacts with alcohol in the same way as it does opioids. The medications used for treating alcohol use disorders are:
- Acamprosate. This medication does not prevent withdrawal symptoms after people drink alcohol, but it does help people who want to avoid drinking. Acamprosate can also alleviate some of the longer lasting effects of alcohol withdrawal such as anxiety or insomnia.
- Disulfiram. Disulfiram treats chronic alcoholism and is most effective for people who have already undergone detox. Drinking even the smallest amount on this medication can cause unfavorable side effects. These unwanted effects deter people from drinking.
- Naltrexone. Naltrexone works for alcohol addiction by blocking the favorable effects of intoxication. This encourages people to stay motivated about their recoveries and avoid relapses.
Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment
For clients addicted to opioids, Continuum Recovery Center may prescribe Vivitrol, Naltrexone or Buprenorphine. These medications assist during drug detox and treatment to block the pleasurable effects of opioids, thereby reducing cravings and lowering the risk for relapse throughout recovery.
For clients suffering with an alcohol addiction, we may prescribe disulfiram, acamprosate or naltrexone to remove the cravings and desirable effects of alcohol. Our doctors will assess your needs before prescribing the right combination of medications. Below are some important benefits to be aware of when receiving MAT:
Reintegrate into Normal Life, Sooner
Because addiction affects the mind, body and spirit, some of the very behaviors we take for granted are difficult for a person in recovery. Managing stress, emotions and physical pain can make it difficult to balance a full life with a career and healthy relationships. Fortunately, Medication-Assisted Treatment can reduce or eliminate these repercussions, providing a counterbalance throughout recovery for as long as needed.
MAT to Protect Against Post-Acute Withdrawal Symptoms
Long-term drug and alcohol use impacts people differently. For some, physical discomfort and withdrawal symptoms can reoccur long after detox. Known as Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome, PAWS can show up anytime within the first two years of treatment. It can happen throughout the healing process, as the brain is finding its way to a healthy balance through continual adjustments to internal chemistry.
PAWS characteristics can occur and feel like ongoing tidal waves that affect the senses, emotions, and behaviors. Here are some symptoms to be aware of:
- Change in Appetite
- Change in Sleep Patterns or Quality
- Lack of Focus
- Inability to Concentrate
- Memory Issues
- Heightened or Reduced Levels of Energy
Without MAT, clients who experience PAWS may succumb to its intensity and relapse into drug or alcohol use.
Medication-Assisted Treatment in Phoenix
When we tell clients and their families that Continuum Recovery Center provides “whole patient” care through a comprehensive approach, it’s because our programs align with broad scope solutions.
We offer counseling, holistic therapies, relapse prevention, life skills training and continuing care. The purpose of adding Medication-Assisted Treatment as an adjunct therapy is to aid in the healing process by reducing cravings and discouraging the use of opioids or alcohol.