Medication Assisted Treatment

Your Guide on Whether Medication-Assisted Treatment is the Answer

Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT, for short, is a method used in drug treatment programs, such as when a user is under the influence of opioids. Medication-Assisted Treatments have to abide by the rules placed by the FDA.

Medication Assisted Treatment
Medication Assisted Treatment

This means the drugs have to approved medications that are going to help treat and control drug-opioid addictions. The commonly accepted medicines that are part of the Medication Assisted Treatment, considering opioids are the following:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone
  • Methadone

Besides using MAT for opioid addiction, MAT can also be used to treat individuals for alcohol abuse disorders and smoking. The treatments not only implement medications but also uses a combination of behavioral therapies and counseling, achieving a more holistic approach to treating their substance abuse disorders.

Are you Addicted?

Opioids include a variety of painkillers that are prescribed to patients. Common painkillers are Percocet, OxyContin, and Vicodin. Street drugs, heroin, and Fentanyl are classified as opioids because of its effect on inhibiting the feeling of pain in your body.

What all of the drugs have in common is that it increases the risk of the user becoming addicted and dependent on the drugs.

When someone becomes addicted to opioids, they will start to experience withdrawal symptoms if they go too long without retaking the drugs. Here are some signs to look for to see if you or someone you know is experiencing any withdrawal symptoms:

  • Muscle aches
  • Restlessness
  • Eyes tearing up
  • Runny nose
  • Excessive sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Nausea
  • High blood pressure
  • Treatment with Buprenorphine

This medication is a newer addition to the Medication Assisted Treatment program. Buprenorphine is the generic name, but there are brand names of this medication, such as Subutex or Suboxone.

This medication was approved by the FDA back in 2002 to treat opioid-related addictions. The drug was previously used as a pain reliever. It functions by acting as a partial antagonist and binds to opioid receptors instead of the opioid itself.

Buprenorphine can trick receptors because it works like an opioid, and because of this, there will be some activity in response to the site being activated. However, since Buprenorphine is a controlled substance, if it is abused, it can also lead to addiction or dependence.

So, why is it used to counteract opioid acceptance? Well, the simple answer is Buprenorphine can stop withdrawal symptoms from occurring while also reducing one’s craving for powerful painkillers and other opiates.

Suboxone is a brand product that uses active ingredients, Buprenorphine, and Naloxone. This medication is used during the detoxification process of MAT and later, for maintenance.

When someone is prescribed Subuone, they are not going to feel the effects they usually feel when taking opioids. Even when they have a relapse, which is due to the Naloxone, it will only precipitate withdrawals when the user is taking Suboxone with other opioid medications.

On the other hand, Subutex only contains the active ingredient Buprenorphine, making this drug a bit easier for the recipient to abuse. Taking these medications are going to reduce the feeling of withdrawals so that the user can beat their addiction and dependency.

Treatment with Naltrexone

Taking a controlled substance does not sit well with many people, especially when they are looking for a way to stop being addicted to their current opiate. Naltrexone is the generic name of this drug, and its brand name is called Vivitrol.

Naltrexone is prescribed to patients who are battling with alcohol or opiate use. It works by reducing one’s cravings for these substances. Naltrexone comes in a pill form and is recommended to be taken orally once daily.

However, Vivitrol is administered to the patient intravenously and can stay and be processed by the body for up to 30 days. Naltrexone is an antagonist of opiates and is going to block it from attaching to its receptor, reducing the effects of the opioid. It has become instrumental in reducing relapse in patients and recovering addicts.

Treatment with Methadone

Methadone is used in MAT treatment when the individual needs to undergo a more extended treatment period. This is especially the case for users who have become addicted to potent opioids such as heroin.

Methadone is one of the oldest MAT methods today, as it was established back in 1971. Methadone is given to adults who are suffering from opioid addiction, and they are also put through therapy to get through the treatment safely.

Benefits of MAT

MAT has helped many people fight back against their substance addictions and dependency. Methadone is a synthetic drug that reacts in the body for 24 hours or more due to its unique metabolization.

As it stays in the body, it increases in the number and can effectively reduce one’s cravings and symptoms of withdrawal. This is what makes Methadone so useful for patients. Methadone, in high amounts, can block the effects of opioids.

People who abuse opioids usually use substances multiple times a day. This is going to increase their tolerance to that level of opiate use. As a result, the individual will have to increase the number of time they take the opiate and the dosage.

Addiction ensues as they get stuck in a cycle of making more and more. Withdrawal symptoms stop them from being able to give up taking opioids, and they begin to crave it excessively. MAT programs were created to treat individuals dealing with this dilemma.

Buprenorphine, or Suboxone, has been used in MAT programs because it has a lower potential to being abused by the user than Methadone. However, using Suboxone is reported to costing up to 3x more yearly.

If the individual is not able to cover this cost, it will be hard for them to get the treatment they may need. There has been less stigma around the idea of replacing one opioid drug for another as the general population sees successful therapies. When used in a controlled manner, people can end their addictions.

It is possible to break the cycle of substance abuse addiction and dependency. Whether one decides to take Buprenorphine or Methadone, they can break the cycle that has controlled their lives thus far.

Individuals can recover and get back to a healthier life of being present with their family, friends, job, and improve their overall health and wellness.

Improved Mental Health with the MAT method

MAT can offer therapy and counseling to its patients, especially when they are taking the methadone route. Treatment is necessary to ensure that the individual can process what their body is going through and to stop them from relapsing in the future.

The sessions also hope to find the other underlying issues the individual is suffering from so they can be prescribed the right treatment or medication as well. The sessions will help people to get through the treatment successfully and to manage their stress and anxiety.

Even patients who are prescribed Buprenorphine are recommended to sign up for psychotherapy sessions.

Improved Behavior after MAT

The National Institute on Drug Abuse did a study and found that individuals who underwent MAT had a considerable change in behavior. After taking the controlled substances Suboxone, Subutex, and Methadone, they noticed the decline of the following:

  • Illicit drug use
  • Sharing of needles
  • HIV rates
  • Sex work
  • Number of sexual partners
  • Attempted suicide
  • Overdoses
  • Risks of MAT

Since these are controlled substances, we are dealing with, and some risks are involved. The first is that it can be quite challenging to find a MAT program in their area. Most treatments, especially Methadone treatments, are heavily regulated because of the high risk that these substances can also be abused too.

Most programs are centered around urban areas, where the chances of substance abuse have been reported to be higher.

Side effects of taking medications are another risk possibility. Buprenorphine is reported to have the least side-effects on the MAT line, while Methadone has a higher risk of having more side.

Methadone is also paired with becoming another substance the user will become dependent on. Side effects people undergoing the MAT program could be the following:

  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Addiction
  • Dependency
  • Finding Help

There is some controversy regarding the use of a controlled substance to treat users who are already addicted to other substances. However, when properly implemented and when the user wants a change, they will be able to break free from their addiction successfully.

Contact a substance abuse expert today to get a recommendation on what treatment is right for you.