Medication Assisted Treatment – Effectiveness in Opioid Addiction
With the opioid epidemic hitting all corners of America, the need for effective opioid addiction treatment has never been higher. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the amount of Americans that die each day in the opioid crisis to be 115. The sad part is that there are highly effective ways to treat an addiction to opioids through medication assisted treatment.
Medication Assisted Treatment Definition
Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is not a new method of treatment. The medication assisted treatment definition is the FDA-approved medications that are used – usually in combination with behavioral therapy and counseling – to help an addict beat their addiction to physically addictive substances, such as opioids. This is considered the “whole patient” approach, and among the best ways to treat an addiction.
A perfect example of how well medication assisted treatment for opioid addiction can work is the case of Nelson Abbott. Nelson had his first taste of opioids when he drank an opioid cough mixture at 14. He followed that with a few opioid pain relievers taken from his father’s prescription. This quickly turned into him buying his own supply until he could no longer afford it. At the age of 18, Nelson began to abuse heroin as a cheaper alternative.
Nelson had several attempts to stop abusing opioids, including going cold turkey and tapering off. However, he found the withdrawal symptoms to be too much, causing his determination to waver. He also tried using therapy by itself to no avail.
It changed when his friend died from an opioid overdose. He was happy to go into rehab again. This time around, a MAT approach was used. Nelson received a monthly naltrexone shot – a drug designed to block opioid effects while also lowering cravings and withdrawal. With his mind able to focus on something besides heroin and opioids, he could start to put his attention onto his recovery.
Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction
MAT is best used in conjunction with behavioral therapy, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In most cases, rehabs will use one of the three types of medications for opioid treatment. They are as follows:
- Methadone – Methadone has been used in the treatment of opioid abuse for decades because of its effectiveness. It is regulated and a recovering person usually needs to go to a clinic or rehab every day to get their dose. It is generally only given to adults. It works by blocking the effects of opioids while being a weak opioid itself, which helps to lower withdrawal symptoms.
- Naltrexone – As previously mentioned, naltrexone also blocks the high that people experience when they abuse opioids. As a weak opioid, it helps to lessen withdrawal symptoms too. When a person uses an opioid while on this drug, they will skip the high and go straight to withdrawal, making it excellent and preventing relapse. It can be given as a once-a-day pill, or as a monthly injection.
- Buprenorphine – Similar to methadone in that it can be abused, buprenorphine is usually combined with naloxone – the medication used to cure overdose. As a combination it also makes it harder to abuse. It works the same way as the other medication do by reducing the withdrawal symptoms that people experience, including cravings, while blocking some of the effects of opioid abuse.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.