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It may sound counterintuitive to treat a substance addiction with another drug; however, this methodology has proven very successful for a wide range of addiction treatment needs. In recent years, several drugs used to treat drug and alcohol use disorders have received FDA approval. However, the collection of options remains relatively modest and not as commonly used as people may believe. Examples of these medications include:
Many MAT medications are long-acting and designed to reduce the cravings that persist in people after treatment, even those who are highly committed to abstinence and their sobriety.
While helpful during the treatment process, it is valuable to note that pharmaceutical interventions such as medication-assisted treatment do not address the other underlying problems that lie at the root of the addiction. These are the issues involving the person’s lifestyle, relationships, and even spiritual challenges they face, which drive their addiction.
In recent years, pharmaceutical manufacturers have sought Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for an implant that would provide continuous delivery of Buprenorphine (Suboxone) for six months for people attempting recovery from addiction to heroin or prescription painkillers.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is putting a significant effort forward in developing vaccines to fight nicotine, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine addiction. If approved and successful, these vaccines aim to trigger an immune response to a drug of abuse so it can’t reach the brain and elicit the “high” people with an addiction to these drugs crave. This will cause cravings for the drug to decrease as an addict cannot achieve the desired physical response.
Medication-assisted treatment or MAT is the term used to describe using specific medications in conjunction with substance abuse counseling to provide a holistic (whole-person) approach to addiction treatment. The drugs used as part of a MAT program are FDA-approved, and specific medication-assisted treatment guidelines including dosing and type of drug used) are tailored to meet each patient’s needs.
The first goal of a MAT program is to stabilize your body and mind. The first days of quitting drugs or alcohol can be difficult. The withdrawal symptoms accompanying detoxing from different substances can begin within a few hours after the last dose of drugs and within six hours of your last drink. Drug and alcohol withdrawal symptoms will cause various physical and emotional effects, which can be challenging to manage without treatment assistance. One of the critical benefits of MAT is that the medications used in a medication-assisted treatment program can help reduce the intensity of cravings and other unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Once MAT has helped to stabilize your physical and emotional symptoms, it can help you get the traction you need to take steps towards achieving sobriety and recovery. As you work to control your withdrawal symptoms such as cravings and headaches or emotional symptoms including anxiety and depression, medically assisted treatment reduces your symptom severity so you can focus on the most important part of treatment; Taking the first steps towards healing and recovery.
Once you have successfully detoxed, completing an addiction treatment program is crucial to maintaining progress in your recovery. The intensity, duration, and type of treatment program that best helps you meet your treatment goals should be developed by working closely with your treatment providers. The most effective addiction treatment programs focus on the needs of the individual as they enter treatment rather than the addiction or diagnosis. By using a range of proven therapeutic models combined with MAT services, members of our treatment team can help you put opioid addiction in the past.
Several types of medications are used in medication-assisted treatment for addiction. A few of the most common are listed below.
Buprenorphine is an opioid drug stronger than morphine. However, its effectiveness as an opioid agonist for addiction treatment makes it beneficial in a MAT program. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist in the brain. This means it works to keep other opioids from affecting your body by binding to the opioid receptors in your brain and nervous system.
This helps you wean off opioids while minimizing the side effects of opioid withdrawal. Buprenorphine is unlikely to cause the intense sedative and euphoric effects caused by opioid drugs. However, it does help satisfy cravings and suppress opioid withdrawal symptoms. As part of a medication-assisted substance abuse treatment program, buprenorphine addicts in recovery fully engage in therapy and other rehab activities.
Naloxone is another medication used in medication-assisted treatment centers and in other medical environments such as emergency rooms to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Like Suboxone, Naloxone is a total opioid agonist. It blocks and reverses the effects of opioid drugs on the brain and nervous system.
Naloxone is an ingredient in Suboxone. As part of a MAT program, it prevents people from overdosing on Buprenorphine (the other component of Suboxone). Naloxone also minimizes the risk of relapse by preventing the pleasant sensations many experiences when using opioids. It is also effective at reducing the intensity of symptoms related to alcohol detox in a MAT substance abuse program.
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Studies indicate the success rate of medication-assisted treatment is substantial. Because MAT reduces the intensity and challenges associated with cravings, it helps addicts focus on overcoming addiction in recovery. Some studies suggest the success rate of medication-assisted treatment is up to 90% at the two-year mark.
Despite the proven success rate of medication-assisted treatment, substance abuse medication-assisted treatment options are not as well utilized as they could be. MAT statistics from a survey conducted in 2019 suggest that less than 35% of adults seeking treatment for an opioid use disorder who could benefit from a MAT program received treatment for opioid addiction in the past year.
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Incorporating medication-assisted treatment into your detox and rehab in Southern California can help you better manage your symptoms and progress towards sobriety without coming to cravings or other relapse triggers. Many worry about incorporating medication-assisted treatment into their treatment program because they believe it essentially substitutes one drug for another, but this is not the case.
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Integrating medication-assisted treatment into a drug or alcohol program provides a safe and effective way to reduce the cravings that make successfully achieving lasting sobriety difficult. MAT can also help reduce incidences of relapse after treatment is complete. To learn more about how MAT can help you on your recovery journey, contact a member of our admissions team today to ask about our treatment programs in Southern California.