The phrase medication-assisted treatment refers to using a combination of medications and behavioral therapy to treat substance abuse. What that means is, if someone is suffering from addiction, they could receive counseling, behavioral therapies, and FDA-approved medications during their addiction treatment. In this guide, we’ll dive deeper into the definition of this treatment and why it’s beneficial.
Understanding Medication-Assisted Treatment
Some teens and young adults receive an opioid-based prescription medication following a routine procedure, like wisdom tooth removal, or an injury. These prescriptions are most often for codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, morphine, and oxycodone.
These medications can be incredibly addictive. Some individuals intentionally misuse these medications to cope with stress, deal with emotional pain, or a variety of other reasons. These actions sometimes lead to people switching from prescription misuse to using heroin or other opioids because they are easier and less expensive to acquire.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an addiction treatment program that uses a combination of medication and therapies for those who are suffering from addiction, including opioids. When someone is suffering from a heroin or other opioid addiction, they can’t quit cold turkey. Medication-assisted treatment helps relieve withdrawal symptoms and curb cravings for those who are suffering from opioid addiction.
How Medication-Assisted Treatment Works
A MAT program can work in two different ways. The first way involves medical professionals giving patients opioid-based medications that activate the same brain receptors as the opiates they’re using. The difference is that these medications take longer to absorb into the patient’s bloodstream. This treatment helps ease withdrawal symptoms while simultaneously breaking the physical and psychological dependency on opioids.
The second way medical professionals can approach this treatment is by using an opioid antagonist. That means the patient receives medications that don’t contain opioids. However, like opioids, these medications travel to the brain receptors and block them. That way, if a patient starts to relapse, they won’t feel those the effects of opioids. When using an antagonist treatment, the patient’s tolerance for opioids decreases following long periods of recovery.
The Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment
If someone is suffering from opioid addiction, a medication-assisted treatment helps prevent them from relapsing or experiencing fatal consequences. These addiction treatment programs can do all of the following:
- Significantly improve a patient’s likelihood for survival
- Increase a patient’s willingness to continue participating in the treatment program
- Decrease criminal activities, including illicit opioid use, among those with substance abuse disorders
- Increase the patient’s ability to obtain and maintain employment successfully
- Improve the birth outcomes for those who struggle with addiction and are pregnant
Medications Used in a MAT program
The stages of these treatments include drug and alcohol detox, behavioral therapy, and aftercare. Medications are used throughout each stage to ensure the patient’s success. Medical professionals use a variety of FDA-approved medications during medication-assisted treatment programs. These medications include:
These medications help treat the patient’s addiction by reducing their cravings and easing withdrawal symptoms. In doing so, these treatments also help prevent relapse. This treatment is especially important when those with substance abuse issues are going through detox.
One thing patients must keep in mind is that the use of these medications could cause side effects. The most common side effects are constipation and sweating. Some patients also report having back pain, chills, nausea, and insomnia.
Contact Wellness Counseling Vida Entera
If you, a loved one, or someone else you know is suffering from opioid addiction, now is the time to reach out for help. It isn’t uncommon to have questions about how medication-assisted treatment works. We have the answers and support you need during these challenging times.