Addiction to drugs is one of the leading reasons for the fall in the living standards of individuals and families. Drug addiction affects people’s lives in numerous ways. Whether it is their professional life or personal, it eventually hits the user after some time. Drugs directly affect the brain and the body. There are different types of drugs with different effects. The utilization of drugs results in severe health consequences, which at times are permanent and continue even after someone has stopped drug use.
Using drugs releases dopamine, this produces a buzz and gives the user a feeling of being intoxicated. It changes how the brain works and causes extreme cravings. Continuous consumption of drugs overtime results in substance dependency and drug addiction. Even though it appears to be very difficult, but substance dependency is treatable.
Fighting addiction is a long and challenging process, but there are some medications that, when combined with behavioral therapy, increase the effectiveness of treatment, providing a decreased risk for relapse. Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is one of the safest options available when it comes to the recovery of individuals from drug addiction. To treat the addiction to alcohol, opioids, and tobacco, the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) has approved several medications. Medical-assisted treatments cannot be considered a replacement for behavioral therapy. The goal of medication-assisted treatment is to help the patient going through the detox process and reduce the chances of relapse.
Detoxification is usually the first stage of recovery. An individual in the recovery process may experience intense cravings even after completion of detox and treatment. MAT programs assist with a strong start to rehabilitation and curb the substance craving. It is essential to combine therapy with medication-assisted programs to make sure that the individual is not only treating withdrawal but also knows how to manage the cravings and triggers to maintain the longer sobriety periods. Patients receiving cognitive behavioral therapy paired with medication have shown better and more effective recovery than those who don’t. Common goals of behavioral treatments are to:
There are several medications used in MAT programs that help in treating addiction to two of the most common substances: alcohol and opioids. The usage of these substances causes physical dependence which results in withdrawal symptoms.
Medications Used in MAT Programs
Medicines used in Medication assisted treatment programs work by producing similar effects as opioids but milder and without euphoria or by totally blocking opioids' effect. This way, these medications help with withdrawal symptoms but do not supplement addiction if taken in the prescribed volume.
Methadone is probably the most well-known medication used in the treatment of opioid addiction. It has been in use for decades to help in treating opioid addiction and treatment. Methadone is a full agonist, which means that it combines with the receptors in the brain and changes how the brain and body respond to pain. It doesn’t produce an elevated sense of euphoria, but milder effects, similar to opioid abuse. It reduces cravings and other painful withdrawal symptoms. When used as prescribed and under administered dosage during Medication assisted treatment, the patient doesn’t feel lethargic, and it also helps with reduced cravings. Methadone comes in pills, powder, and liquid form and is recommended once per day. To avoid the risk of overdosing, the dosage of methadone is usually built up slowly over time. Methadone can be highly addictive if not correctly administered.
Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. It helps in reducing the withdrawal symptoms and curbs cravings. Though not a perfect fit, buprenorphine still binds to opioid receptors, which result in satisfying the cravings for opioids without producing euphoria. When directly administered, buprenorphine does not pose a risk of addiction, but its easy availability without prescription often results in misuse of the drug. A combination of Buprenorphine with Naloxone is used in Suboxone Treatment. This treatment is used for an extended time to avoid relapse.
Naloxone is an opioid antagonist. It blocks the activity of the opioids at the receptors site. Due to this, the effects of an overdose can be reversed or stopped preventing fatal consequences. If someone is experiencing an opioid overdose, naloxone injection may be used. It is a usual practice for the patient and the family members to keep the naloxone injectors nearby in case of relapse after the program has ended.
This medication is used in both the treatment of alcohol and opioid addiction. It blocks opioids receptors and helps in reducing the craving. Since it works by blocking the receptors, the user does not experience the usual high if the substance is consumed after taking the medication. It is important to follow the doctor’s instructions carefully since the overdose of this drug can severely damage the liver. The medicine can be consumed orally or by injecting. Oral tablets are administered daily, while injectable forms are taken monthly.
This medication discourages a person from consuming alcohol by causing unpleasant side effects such as sweating, flushing, headache, anxiety, blurred vision, and chest pain, etc. These effects usually appear within 10-30 minutes after the consumption of alcohol. The severity of the effect is related to the amount of alcohol consumed. Disulfiram can be combined with outpatient treatment and inpatient rehabilitation.
To produce a feeling of calm, Acamprosate simulates the gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors in the brain. The usage of this medication also reduces alcohol craving. Acamprosate is usually used combined with group therapy and by patients who have already stopped drinking or are in the process of doing so. It is a popular medication because it is safe for the liver and for the patients who are receiving opioid medications. Acamprosate is used in outpatient treatments as well.
MAT has proved to be an effective way to fight the addiction during the recovery process. Research shows that medication assisted treatment programs, when combined with non-medicated approaches, speed up the patient’s recovery process and help in decreasing the cravings. During the withdrawal period, these medications can also help a person with emotional, physical, and mental symptoms. Medication-Assisted Treatment programs create a strong support system from friends, family, and peers to kick start the patient’s recovery journey and help them get clean as soon as they can.
Visit our website at www.miamivalleyrecovery.com or call us at 937-401-8672 for more information about our medication assisted treatment program.