Is Medication Assisted Treatment right for you?
If you have opioid use disorder (OUD) or alcohol use disorder (AUD), then you might be a candidate for medication-assisted treatment or MAT.
MAT uses drugs such as naltrexone and buprenorphine (among others) to:
- Block the effects of withdrawal
- Block the euphoric effects of opioids or alcohol
This type of treatment works best when you combine it with therapy, counseling, and other measures. This whole-body approach addresses the physical and mental aspects of addiction.
Many people with AUD or OUD respond better to MAT than to treatment that only uses counseling or therapy. Long-term withdrawal and cravings can lead to relapses, and MAT blocks those from happening.
At Bedrock Recovery Center, our treatment programs offer the use of MAT during treatment and beyond. Using MAT after you transition to everyday life again can help keep you in recovery and prevent relapse.
What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications to treat substance use disorder or SUD.
When you stop using drugs or alcohol, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can be severe, and they often lead to relapse.
When you start an MAT program, your doctor will prescribe a medication to control symptoms of withdrawal. Some medications can eliminate cravings for drugs.
This lessens the chance of relapse and allows you to focus on recovery instead of cravings and withdrawal.
How Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Work?
The way MAT works depends on the drug that you’re stopping. For instance, drugs used in MAT for opioids won’t work the same as drugs used for alcohol withdrawal.
Most MAT drugs work in one of these ways:
- They eliminate withdrawal
- They block cravings
- They stop you from feeling high in the event of a relapse
- They give you an unpleasant reaction when you use
Blocking withdrawal and cravings is an effective treatment strategy for some types of substance use disorder or SUD. If you have AUD or OUD, then you already know that stopping can feel impossible once withdrawal sets in.
MAT works by helping you avoid those obstacles. When you aren’t struggling through withdrawal or trying to talk yourself out of a craving, you can focus entirely on your recovery.
Still, medication isn’t enough to handle SUD alone.
Instead, our MAT program combines medication with evidence-based therapy, counseling, peer groups, and other recovery resources and treatments. This whole-body approach helps you address SUD from the root cause instead of only treating the symptoms.
What Medications Are Used in Medication-Assisted Treatment?
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approves the following 5 drugs for use in MAT programs
What Medications Treat Alcohol Use Disorder?
The most common drugs used to treat AUD include acamprosate, naltrexone, and disulfiram. These are the only FDA-approved, evidence-based medications for AUD.
Disulfiram (or Antabuse) works by causing an unpleasant reaction when you use alcohol. It only takes a tiny amount of alcohol to cause the reaction. When you’re taking disulfiram, any amount of alcohol causes:
The reaction from disulfiram is so unpleasant that it deters most people from relapsing. Most people describe the reaction as similar to a severe hangover.
Acamprosate (or Campral) stops you from feeling the withdrawal symptoms of alcohol. It changes the balance of chemicals in the brain to eliminate symptoms such as:
- Mood changes
- Trouble sleeping
When you’re not struggling through withdrawal symptoms, you can focus more fully on recovery. Acamprosate works best for people who can stop drinking before they start using it.
Naltrexone works by reducing cravings and eliminating the high that you feel from alcohol use. You may know it by the names Vivitrol or Revia.
Like Campral, you should stop drinking alcohol before starting naltrexone. If naltrexone is in your future, your care team will start you on it after you complete detox.
What Medications Treat Opioid Use Disorder?
The FDA has approved these medications to treat OUD:
Naltrexone works the same way for OUD as AUD. It eliminates cravings and removes the high. This means there’s less temptation to drink and less reward if you do drink. If you relapse, you might not find it pleasurable enough to do it again.
You should stop using opioids before starting naltrexone or it won’t work as intended. Your care team will help you get through detox before prescribing naltrexone.
Buprenorphine works by controlling withdrawal, reducing cravings, and blocking the effects of opioids. You may know it by the brand name Subutex or Suboxone. It’s highly effective at helping OUD patients maintain recovery.
Methadone works by blocking withdrawal symptoms. Unlike other drugs used in MAT, methadone has a potential for abuse and it is addictive. Despite that, it’s very effective at treating OUD.
What to Expect During Medication-Assisted Treatment
The MAT process will begin after detox when you enter residential treatment at Bedrock Recovery Center. If you choose MAT as part of your care plan, you’ll need to get substances out of your system before MAT will work properly.
When you start using MAT, you’ll go to the office for an appointment every time. You’ll take your doses under medical supervision. Depending on the type of drug, you may take a pill, a dissolving tablet, an injection, or even a dissolving cheek film.
In time, you’ll develop more stability. When you become more stable, your doctor may let you start taking doses of your medication home.
This lets you go longer between appointments without missing out on your medication. The exception is methadone, which is addictive and needs to be taken in a clinic.
Who Should Use Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Anyone who has AUD or OUD could benefit from MAT. Medication is one of the most effective methods of treating SUD.
Talk to your doctor about your medications, health, and drug history before starting MAT. They’ll be able to tell if you have any contraindications that could make it harder to succeed on MAT.
Can You Use Medication-Assisted Treatment as an Outpatient?
You can continue MAT after you finish residential treatment and go to outpatient. In fact, many people use MAT as a long-term maintenance therapy to help prevent relapse.
However, you’ll still have to go to appointments daily to receive your medication, unless your doctor decides you’re stable enough to take medication home.
Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Work?
Yes, medication-assisted treatment works. Research shows that your recovery outcome is much better when you’re using MAT. The risk of relapse is much lower and so is the risk of overdose.
Bedrock Recovery Center can help you manage your recovery with detox, residential treatment, and medication-assisted treatment. A full treatment plan is the best way to ensure your recovery. If you think MAT might be right for you, our board-certified physicians can help you choose the right medication and let you know what to expect.
- Can I afford addiction treatment?
Often times, your health insurance plan can cover a majority of the cost of your treatment. Not sure where to start? We can help verify your insurance plan and point you in the right direction, even if it’s not with us.
- What does substance abuse treatment look like?
Substance abuse treatment often comes in multiple stages. The stages are dependent on what substance(s) an individual is using and how often. Typically, treatment consists of detox, inpatient/residential treatment and/or intensive outpatient treatment. This process usually takes on average 90 days. An individualized plan will be made for each patient by their clinician and therapist.
- What will happen to my job while I’m in treatment?
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has given protected rights for people suffering from substance abuse. By filing for FMLA, you can help protect your job while you are in treatment. Our treatment specialists will go over different options with you and help you file the necessary paperwork you need to help protect your job. This process is discrete as we are HIPAA compliant.
- How do I talk to a loved one about addiction treatment?
Talking to a loved one about addiction treatment can be tough. It’s important to go about it in a healthy way, without them feeling judged or pressured. Our treatment specialists can help guide you step by step during the process, so do not hesitate to call.
- Can I force a loved one to go to rehab?
If you live in the state of Massachusetts, there is a law that passed, known as Section 35. Under this law, it “allows a qualified person to request a court order requiring someone to be civilly committed and treated involuntarily for an alcohol or substance use disorder”. Read more about Section 35 and speak with one of our treatment specialists today to help assist you through this process.
- Can someone help me stage an intervention?
Absolutely! Call our treatment specialists to discuss your specific situation. Often times we are able to send a certified interventionist to help assist in not only the intervention, but to also oversee your loved one’s transportation to rehab.
- Can I smoke while in treatment?
Yes, we have designated areas for smoking.
- How can I communicate with my loved ones while in treatment?
Keep in mind that when you’re in treatment, you want to take the time to focus on yourself and your recovery. However, we understand that our patients have responsibilities outside of treatment and can make accommodations to comply with certain requests. To find out more, call and talk to our treatment specialists today.