What is Medication Assisted Treatment?
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) uses FDA approved pharmaceuticals to treat opioid addiction and facilitate a sustainable recovery. Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone products have been approved to be used as a treatment in opioid use disorders (OUD). Methadone functions as a full opioid agonist by binding to the same opioid receptors in the brain that create a euphoric high when activated by drugs such as opioid pain medication or morphine. Unlike other opioids, however, methadone has a long half life which prevents any highs or lows to develop. This eliminates many withdrawal symptoms and simultaneously alleviates drug cravings in a person with opioid dependency. Buprenorphine functions similarly to methadone, however it acts as a partial opioid agonist. This means that buprenorphine activates opioid receptors at a lower level, causing it to have a threshold, known as the “ceiling effect”, that decreases the risk of misuse. The ceiling effect also allows buprenorphine to be administered in a home setting in addition to a clinical setting. Naltrexone, on the other hand, is an opioid antagonist. Less commonly used than methadone and buprenorphine for MAT, naltrexone blocks any activation of opioid receptors thereby eliminating any euphoric effect of opioid drugs rather than the withdrawals or cravings.
Addiction counseling helps addicts manage obstacles in their lives without dependence on substances and better understand the factors that led to their addiction. After and during detox, individuals are at high risk of relapse especially when faced with triggers in their social or physical environments. Counseling allows individuals to learn how to recognize and cope with these stressors in healthy ways to facilitate long-term recovery and prevention. There are several types of therapy including group therapy, individual therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, maintenance therapy. Since counseling is not a one size fits all treatment, the type of therapy needs to be personalized and specific to each individual person.
Benefits of Creating a Well Rounded Treatment Plan
Research has shown that MAT is most effective for Opioid use disorder (OUD) when used in combination with counseling and/or behavioral therapy. This combination creates a well-rounded comprehensive treatment plan for individuals to have a sustainable recovery. Listed below are five major benefits of treating OUD with both counseling and MAT:
- Allows Treatment of Additional Areas
- Effective Results - Decrease in Relapse and Overdose
- Decreased Infectious Disease Transmission
- Encourages Social Integration and Support
- Harm Reduction
- https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction/how-do-medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction-work OR https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment/treatment/naltrexone