Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) uses FDA-approved medications, along with counseling and behavioral therapies, to treat substance abuse disorders. The use of FDA-approved drugs and evidence-based therapies is effective, as it treats the whole person and extends periods of sobriety. Typically, MAT is used to treat opioid and alcohol substance use disorders.
Let’s learn more about medication-assisted treatment, the types of medications use and who the best candidates are.
Medications Used in MAT
The medications prescribed vary based on the type of addiction, its severity and the withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your doctor to find out which medicines are right for you, as each person is unique.
Opioid addictions respond best to the following medications:
- Buprenorphine. This drug is used for opioid addictions and can be prescribed from a doctor’s office. It’s a partial opioid agonist that can be part of a comprehensive recovery program. However, buprenorphine has opioid effects and the potential for abuse.
- Methadone. A full opioid agonist, methadone produces effects that are similar to opioids. However, it’s longer acting and has milder effects. Just one dose can prevent withdrawal symptoms for over a day. However, coming off methadone can still result in debilitating withdrawal symptoms.
- Naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that is used to reverse potentially life-threatening overdoses. Naloxone injections are administered intravenously during an opioid overdose emergency. It should be kept on hand for opioid users.
- Naltrexone. Available in a pill or injectable form, Naltrexone blocks opioid receptors, which prevent users from getting high. It may even reduce cravings for opioids. The injectable form is given once a month, whereas the pill is taken daily.
When treating alcohol addictions, the following medications are used:
- Disulfiram. Also known as Antabuse, this medication enhances the negative effects of alcohol, reducing the desire to drink. The effects come 10-30 minutes after drinking and include sweating, vomiting, chest pains, blurred vision, headache and anxiety.
- Acamprosate. This medication, also called Campral, is used to prevent relapse and promote abstinence. It may help reduce cravings and make it easier for recovering alcoholics to stay sober.
Best Candidates for MAT
Before MAT can be implemented, you need to be properly diagnosed. Your diagnosis will include the severity of the addiction and any co-occurring mental health conditions. You are a good candidate for MAT if you have an official diagnosis of addiction to opioids or alcohol, are willing to follow all instructions and do not have health problems that could interfere with the therapy.
Medication-assisted treatment is not a standalone treatment. It is part of a comprehensive recovery regimen that includes counseling and lifestyle changes. To learn more about your treatment options, call The River Source today.