Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment at Soul Surgery Rehab
At Soul Surgery, we know detoxing is hard. We provide Medication-Assisted Treatment administered in a safe, supportive environment by professional staff in outpatient clinics. Medication is only one part of the process. Soul Surgery also offers counseling, medical exams, testing, twelve-step programs, vocational or educational assistance, and family support. If you or a loved one is suffering from opioid addiction, reach out to Soul Surgery Rehab today and let us help.
In the United States alone, more than 47,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2017. That staggering figure from the National Institute on Drug Abuse illustrates just how bad the opioid epidemic has become and proves that the ongoing crisis shows no signs of slowing down. Facing opioid withdrawal is a terrifying prospect for many people who want to seek help. Fear of the withdrawal process is enough of a deterrent for some that they may choose to keep using and try to control their addictions on their own rather than go through the agony, nausea, and chills of getting clean. This is a crucial demographic where medication-assisted treatment could save thousands of lives every year.
What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Medication-assisted treatment or MAT is the practice of using FDA-approved medication-assistance during opioid withdrawal to mitigate side effects and make the withdrawal process less physically and emotionally taxing. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the medication should be used in combination with behavioral therapy and counseling, as opposed to using medication as the sole treatment method – hence the name medication “assisted” treatment. Proper MAT from a physician certified in addiction medicine is a safe and effective option for treating opioid-addicted patients.
How Does MAT Work?
The three medications approved by the FDA for addiction treatment each work differently in the brain, but the two most common drugs, Methadone and Suboxone, are based around the same principle. A long-acting opioid is deliberately administered so the brain’s opioid receptors are satisfied that the patient is not actually withdrawing. The dose is tapered down over time and often accompanied by other drugs that counteract any remaining side effects. For patients who have already detoxed and remained clean for 14 days, Vivitrol can help manage cravings and prevent relapses in the long term.
Methadone, the most well-known of the MAT options, acts as a full agonist by fully combining with receptors in the brain to combat withdrawal symptoms and cravings. If the patient were to relapse during treatment and return to opioid use, methadone would also negate the drug’s euphoric effect and make the reward for taking the drug less appealing. Methadone is itself a powerful opioid drug that can be dangerous when abused, so it is only used in addiction clinics where staff has full control over the patient’s dosage. Prescribing physicians and the nurses administering the once-a-day dose will slowly increase the amount over time to prevent overdose.
Suboxone, the second option, acts as a partial agonist in the brain and does not fully bind to opioid receptors as methadone does. The drug is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is the opioid ingredient, but the naloxone component blocks the sensation of being high from the drug. Suboxone reduces the physical symptoms of withdrawal such as headaches, anxiety, sweating, and vomiting, but does not eliminate cravings as completely as Methadone does. The benefit of using Suboxone over Methadone is that it can be prescribed and administered by licensed physicians, as opposed to Methadone only being available in a specialized clinic.
The third MAT option is Vivitrol, or naltrexone. Vivitrol acts as an opioid antagonist, meaning it blocks the brain’s receptors from binding with any opioid molecules and reduces cravings for opioids after detox. Vivitrol does not cause the same dopamine release that opioid molecules do when they have bound to receptors, so there is no high associated with use of this drug. Vivitrol is a risky treatment option for anyone who may relapse immediately before or during treatment, so it is only given to patients who have been off of opioids for one to two weeks. Since the drug blocks opioid receptors entirely, it can cause sudden withdrawal in patients who have recently stopped using or severe overdose in patients who relapse during treatment. The benefit of this option is that it is a once-a-month injection and does not require the patient to stay on top of a daily regimen.
Medication-Assisted Treatment in Arizona
We believe that medication-assisted treatment is an effective method to fight addiction, and the evidence confirms it. If you, or a loved one, are ready to start recovery, contact us today.