Most people believe that using medications to treat substance addiction leads to other habits. The use of evidence-based therapies and FDA-approved medications have demonstrated that medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can effectively treat alcohol and drug addiction. This type of treatment enhances the probability of a successful recovery by increasing periods of sobriety. MAT is a combination of medication and therapies that has been a crucial tool in treating alcohol and opioid substance use disorders.

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

The process of addiction and recovery involves intense cravings to continue using drugs and alcohol. This is after the completion of detox and treatment. These cravings increase the risk of relapse and interfere with the treatment process. Some medications are effective in promoting abstinence, while others help people struggling with addiction to stave off the cravings. 

Therapies involve teaching people how to deal with triggers and cravings that may lead to relapse. The treatments are available on an emotional and cognitive level, and they help to extend the periods of sobriety.

medication-assisted treatment

How Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Work?

There is a stigma that comes with helping recovering addicts reach sobriety with medication-assisted treatment. However, our mission is to break the stigma. Because opioids are so addictive, they require a more intensive treatment process while going through the rehab program. Other substances are usually needed to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and the long-term effects of substance abuse. This is where medication-assisted treatment comes in.

A typical combination of MAT medications includes buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone, usually administered in small doses in the early stages of recovery. The treatment staff will look over the patient and determine which drug works best. Medication-assisted treatment will only be used when necessary until the patient will no longer require a prescription.

Anybody struggling with substance addiction and requiring medication-assisted treatment should not feel shame. Using medications to manage the effects of substances only helps them and getting back on the road to recovery.

Medication-Assisted Treatment Protocol

Three things must be determined to assess each patient accurately: the type of substance abused, the severity of the addiction, and the presence of any co-occurring mental health disorders. Once staff has evaluated all of these factors, the treatment center will determine whether the patient requires medication-assisted treatment. Those who need MAT to recover will be placed in a unit with a higher level of attention and care.

There will not be a minimum or maximum amount of time that this form of treatment takes. Each patient is different, so each case will differ. The need for any medication-assisted treatment will be monitored to ensure the patient is receiving help and not hurting themselves.

Ideal candidates for medication-assisted treatment include the following:

  • Had been diagnosed with opioid addiction
  • No physical issues the medication could worsen
  • Learned all treatment possibilities
  • Agree to follow strict guidelines of medicated-assisted treatment

Medication-assisted treatment might not be best for the following:

  • Unmotivated to achieve sobriety
  • Suffers from multiple substance addictions simultaneously
  • History of medication abuse
  • Health conditions like liver failure and heart disease

Types of Drugs Used in Medication-Assisted Treatment

Health experts prescribe various medications in the treatment of opioid and alcohol addictions. Some commonly prescribed medications involve:

Probuphine

This medicine does not create a euphoric high. It helps to manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms among those struggling with opioid addiction. Patients use this drug to navigate through treatment and recovery successfully.

Probuphine side effects can include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Gas 
  • Headache
  • Implant-site reactions
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Naloxone

It prevents overdoses that may be life-threatening. Someone can get a naloxone injection in a medical emergency. This applies to those struggling with opioid addiction.

Naloxone side effects can include:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Body aches
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness

Acamprosate

This is useful in promoting abstinence and preventing relapse. It also reduces the post-acute withdrawal symptoms that may cause a relapse. 

Acamprosate side effects can include:

  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Itching 
  • depression
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Numbness 

Disulfiram

It helps to reduce drinking behaviors. It produces unpleasant effects after one consumes alcohol.

Disulfiram side effects can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Skin rash 
  • Impotence
  • Sore tongue

Methadone

This medicine provides similar euphoric effects to other opioids. However, the results are milder and last much longer. They do not affect a person’s ability to function. Methadone decreases cravings and opioid withdrawal — one dose curbs the cravings for over a full day.

Methadone side effects can include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Reduced sex drive
  • Mood swings
  • Sweating
  • Stomach pain

Naltrexone

This drug helps people suffering from the effects of withdrawal. It comes in a pill or injectable form, effectively helping to block opioid receptors while decreasing the urge to use alcohol or opioids. Naltrexone also reduces cravings that many recovering addicts face throughout treatment. 

Naltrexone side effects can include:

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is the first medication a treatment center uses to treat opioid addiction, and it can be prescribed at any doctor’s office. Certified hospitals can only transfer other drugs. This medication usually comes in pill form and works by alleviating opioid withdrawal symptoms. It also reduces cravings that are part of the drug addiction treatment process.

Buprenorphine side effects can include:

  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Trouble staying awake

Aside from the above medication, MAT also involves evidence-based behavioral therapies, relapse prevention programs, and education. Therapies address underlying issues that may lead to substance abuse. 

Is a Medication-Assisted Treatment Program Right For Me?

Between the familiarity of your condition and the medical staff’s determination, all facets will be considered regarding medication-assisted treatment programs to find the best fit. You’ll be educated on how it works and what it offers to make sure that the medication-assisted treatment program meets your needs. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to see if MAT is right for you:

  • Do you have trouble remaining sober in an abstinence-based rehab center?
  • Have you commonly relapsed during or after leaving treatment?
  • Do you want to stay sober while using craving-reducing medications?
  • Do you want to work on the long-term goal of maintaining long-term sobriety?
  • Are you prepared to take prescription medications for their sole purpose of helping you remain sober during treatment?

Other Treatments Used with Medication-Assisted Treatment

medication-assisted treatment

Medication-assisted treatment is a reliable method to consider when checking into an addiction treatment program. Coupled with other forms of therapy, it is determined by each patient’s current mental and physical state. Addiction treatment professionals will design a plan for each patient to sustain full sobriety immediately.

Some treatment programs, coupled with medication-assisted treatment, include:

Individual Therapy

This type of psychological treatment helps to evaluate the patient’s mental health in sessions. This treatment program can help determine what caused the addiction and what continues to fuel it. Some issues discussed during these sessions are environmental factors, previous traumas, and family history of substance abuse. 

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

It is natural for someone to suffer from addiction and a mental health disorder. Dual diagnosis treatment takes care of substance abuse and mental health disorders at the same time. This must be done by a specific therapist who is certified to treat both at once.

Holistic Treatment

This form of treatment allows patients to develop new habits and hobbies while at the rehab facility. Members will participate in recreational activities like art, yoga, and exercise. Members will also be taught how to focus on bettering their mental health and nutrition through healthy eating programs and yoga classes.

These and other therapy forms complement medication-assisted treatment very well by keeping the patients focused on the task rather than their cravings.

Treatment Programs Available

If you are considering medication-assisted treatment for addiction, Phoenix Rising Recovery Center is an excellent place to start. Our facility provides a variety of treatment programs to people struggling with addiction. We provide medication-assisted treatment that caters to the needs of different clients. We also offer various therapy services including family, group, and cognitive behavioral therapy.

Some of the treatment programs available at Phoenix Rising include:

  • Partial Hospitalization Program: This program allows clients to stay in the facility for several days a week. This is essential for clients who cannot wait for long in the residential facility.
  • Sober living: Clients stay in the facility and get educated on the importance of staying sober.
  • Addiction Detox Centers: This treatment involves the use of FDA-approved medication. These centers provide this medication to the clients. Detox is usually the first step in the treatment of addiction.
  • Outpatient Treatment Program: This allows clients to get the necessary treatment while also catering to their work and families.
  • Intensive Outpatient Program: Clients avail themselves at the facility every four to five days a week.
  • Aftercare program: This is important in helping recovered patients to maintain sobriety.
  • Residential Treatment Center: Clients live in the facility for around three months.

Receive the Treatment and Support You Deserve

At Phoenix Rising, we offer medication-assisted treatment to our patients suffering from opioid addiction. This alternative form of therapy is aside from standard addiction treatment. 

Whether it’s with the help of naltrexone, methadone, or buprenorphine, our team of professionals here at Phoenix Rising is here to assist. Our treatment staff understands that medications are sometimes a necessary ingredient of the treatment process. We track the amount of medication used and give you a timetable of how long you’ll use MAT.

Contact us today at Phoenix Rising and allow our staff to get you the answers you seek to get the help you deserve.