Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of FDA-approved medications in addiction treatment. It’s generally used in combination with other effective methods such as psychological counseling and behavioral therapy. Both are effective in treating opioid use disorders (OUD) and can help some people maintain a lasting recovery.
There are three main medications that are FDA-approved to treat opioid disorders. These drugs include buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone. All three medications are proven to be safe and effective when combined with counseling therapy to treat opioid addiction.
What Is An Opiate-Use Disorder?
An OUD is a physical and psychological reliance on opiates. This includes heroin, prescription painkillers and other synthetic and natural derivatives of the opium poppy. An OUD very commonly results after opiate painkillers are prescribed to treat a legitimate medical issue. Some people move to heroin upon becoming addicted to opiate painkillers as heroin tends to be cheaper and easier to get. Not everyone who uses prescription painkillers will become addicted. You have a greater risk of becoming addicted if you have a family history of addiction or if you have a co-occurring disorder such as depression or anxiety. If you have ever experienced an addiction to another substance such as alcohol or marijuana, you also have a greater risk of becoming addicted to opiates. An OUD is characterized by physical dependence and tolerance as well as uncontrollable drug-seeking behaviors.
What Is Medication Assisted Treatment?
In basic terms, medication assisted treatment is the use of various medications in addiction treatment. Medication is generally not the only part of the treatment, however. It’s almost always combined with other types of addiction treatment, including counseling, behavioral therapy, holistic and many others. Medications used in MAT are always approved by the FDA, and programs using MAT are always tailored to meet each individual patient’s needs. Research shows that MAT combined with therapy can be very effective in treating substance use disorders and help facilitate lasting recovery.
MAT is most commonly used for OUD such as heroin addiction or prescription painkiller addiction. The various prescribed medications work to return brain chemistry to a normal state as well as blocking the effects of the addictive drugs. They can also help relieve cravings and stabilize body functions.
Which Medication Is Considered The Best Medication Assisted Treatment For Opioid Use Disorder?
The types of medication approved for use in MAT for OUD include the buprenorphine products listed below:
Methodone products approved by the FDA for MAT include:
The naltrexone product approved by the FDA for medication assisted treatment in treating addiction to opiates is called Vivitrol.
All three types of drugs are considered safe and effective for addiction treatment in combination with therapy and counseling. Generally, anyone seeking treatment for an OUD will usually be offered some form of medication assisted treatment along with counseling and therapeutic treatment. It’s important to give patients the best chance for recovery, and MAT can help make that possible.
What Are The Main Elements Of Medication Assisted Treatment?
As previously mentioned, medication assisted treatment uses both medication and therapy to give patients the best chance at recovery. What do the three main medications do in terms of treating an OUD? Let’s take a closer look.
Buprenorphine – this is an agonist/antagonist that lowers cravings for whichever opiate drug is being abused. It reduces the effects of physical and psychological dependency. It also increases the chances of surviving an overdose.
Methadone – this is an agonist that tricks your brain into thinking it’s still experiencing the effect of whatever opiate you were abusing. It reduces withdrawal symptoms and blocks the euphoric effects of opiates. Methadone is safe and effective as long as it’s taken with the strict direction of a doctor.
Naltrexone – this is a non-addictive antagonist that blocks both the sedative and euphoric effects of opiate drugs, which helps to reduce cravings. There is virtually no risk of this drug being abused.
What Is The Goal of Medication Assisted Treatment?
The primary goal of medication assisted treatment is simply to give patients the best chance at addiction recovery. Even though it’s almost always endorsed as part of a treatment program that includes medication as well as counseling and therapy. However, there are cases when patients pursue medication while resisting therapy and counseling. In these cases, providers may choose to help patients through medication first. Sometimes patients have the wrong idea that medication alone can get them free of addiction. However, the good news is that medication often gives patients a clearer head, and they then realize that they can’t deal with the part of their life that was obscured by substance abuse.
Initially, some patients aren’t ready to start counseling. They may not realize the underlying issues behind their substance abuse. Medication appears to be a quick way to solve their substance abuse problems. Then, they find out that they don’t have coping skills for stress, anger, depression and anxiety, which they soon may realize will lead them back into substance abuse. In this way, medication assisted treatment can be an effective way for people to stay in treatment.
They see results by using the medication and want to experience lasting results by exploring other forms of treatment such as therapy and counseling.
What Are The Benefits of Medication Assisted Treatment?
Medication-assisted treatment offers a number of benefits. Some of the benefits include the following:
Medication-assisted treatment often functions as an introduction to treatment. People in today’s society often want a quick fix. Detox alone can’t provide the same level of “fixing the problem” that medication can. Patients often see medication as something that will fix their problem. If they’re reluctant to go into traditional treatment, medication can often function as a gateway by showing them what it could be like to live without a substance abuse disorder.
Is Medication Assisted Treatment Effective?
Medication-assisted treatment has been shown to be very effective in increasing lasting recovery and keeping patients in treatment. It lowers the risk of relapse and illegal activity in connection with seeking illicit substances. It can also increase the patient’s ability to stay employed. Some patients who seek traditional therapy and counseling for addiction may feel frustrated at their inability to control cravings and similar physical issues related to rewired brain chemistry. Medication can improve this functioning and allow patients to better focus on therapy and counseling to fully recover from addiction.
There are many evidence-based studies that show how medication-assisted treatment helps patients decrease drug use even without counseling. Ultimately, counseling and therapy provide the best chance that patients will be able to address the underlying issues that led them to addiction in the first place. However, there’s no doubt that medication can be an extremely effective first line of defense to help people get away from illicit drugs and seek further treatment.
If you or a loved one are considering treatment for addiction, then New Method Wellness can help. We have a professional and experienced staff, and we offer a wide range of treatments, including holistic treatments and medication assisted treatment. Get on the road to recovery and contact us today!