Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is used to treat both alcohol and opioid use disorders. When combined with therapy, MAT has proven to be very effective in helping people achieve and maintain sobriety. It has also been shown to prevent or decrease the risk of opioid overdoses. The medications used in MAT have been rigorously evaluated and approved by the FDA to ensure they are safe and effective.
The Effectiveness of MAT
MAT provides so many benefits for those who utilize it in their addiction treatment. The primary benefit of MAT is to help people achieve complete recovery, however, the benefits don’t stop there. It decreases opioid and alcohol use and contributes to lower rates of fatal opioid overdoses. It has added benefits of:
- Decreased involvement in criminal activity
- Lower rates of transmission of infectious diseases such as Hepatitis C or AIDS
- Engaging in MAT makes it easier for clients to remain in treatment for the duration of their program
Medications Used in MAT
Only drugs that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration are used in MAT. These medications reduce symptoms of withdrawal, suppress cravings, and improve brain functioning, while therapy helps you work through the root causes of addiction.
Medications for Alcohol Use Disorder
It is estimated that between 10 and 20% of people seen by their primary care physicians have diagnosable alcohol use disorders, however, MAT for alcohol addiction is still an underutilized tool for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Medications most commonly used in MAT programs are naltrexone, disulfiram, and acamprosate. For best results, intensive therapy should be combined with these medications.
Medication Used in Opioid Addiction Treatment
As with MAT for alcohol use disorder, medications used for opioid addiction only provide long-term benefits if it is combined with therapy. Medications most commonly used for the treatment of opioid addiction are buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. These medications are very helpful in treating addiction to short-acting opioids such as codeine, morphine, or heroin, as well as synthetic opioids like oxycodone. Depending on the treatment plan, clients may safely take these medications for several months, or even indefinitely.
Medication Used to Prevent Opioid Overdose
Naloxone is an FDA-approved medication used in emergency situations to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. It works by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain and blocking the effects of the opioid that was consumed. This is a temporary fix and the person should receive medical treatment immediately. Naloxone can be administered intramuscularly, through the nose by way of a nasal spray, or as a subcutaneous injection. Signs of a potential overdose include:
- Low, shallow breaths
- Blue or purple discoloration around mouth or fingers
- Slow, thready pulse
- Drowsiness or difficulty staying awake
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pinpoint pupils
- Very pale skin
If you suspect someone is experiencing signs of an overdose you should:
- Call 911 and stay with them
- Check their pulse and breathing
- Administer naloxone if you have it
- Start CPR and wait for paramedics to arrive
Naloxone is available by prescription, but in some states and certain cases, you may be able to get it without one. Speak to your doctor if you would like more information on how to obtain it or how to use this life-saving drug. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration has also issued an informative toolkit that provides a wealth of information about opioid overdose prevention to help you stay informed.
Combining Therapy with MAT for Best Outcome
Combining therapy with MAT is the best way to achieve successful and lasting recovery from opioid or alcohol use. It provides a “clean slate” for you to work on tackling the struggles you’ve experienced that led to addiction. The Source Addiction Treatment Center in Fort Lauderdale is an industry leader in addiction treatment and specializes in helping people achieve their dream of recovery with MAT. For more information on MAT or how the Source can help you or a loved one, call today (800)204-0418 or visit them online at www.thesourceaddictiontreatment.com.