Spotlight on treatments: Medication-assisted treatment

Spotlight on treatments: Medication-assisted treatment

Behavioral therapy and counseling are powerful tools in the fight against prescription drug addiction, but some patients require additional help to achieve a lasting recovery. Medication can make all the difference in the effectiveness of an addiction treatment program. 

The Department of Health and Human Services endorses medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as the most effective method of recovery. Medication can help reduce the symptoms of addiction and allow addicts to focus on acquiring the life skills they need from counseling to maintain their sobriety. Some drugs commonly used in MAT include:

Methadone

Methadone is one of the oldest and most effective medications for opioid addiction. The drug is an opioid agonist, which means that it targets the same centers of the brain that other opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers do. By doing so, the drug reduces the cravings that addicts experience while going through withdrawal. The drug is often diagnosed during the detoxification process to make the experience easier on the patients. Recovering addicts can also get regular methadone treatments during and after counseling to keep them on the right path. Due to the popularity of the treatment, there are many licensed methadone clinics around the country so the treatment is accessible wherever a patient goes (National Institute on Drug Abuse).

Buprenorphine

This drug is a partial opioid agonist, meaning that it both activates the opioid receptors in the brain, like Methadone, and also counteracts the effects of opioids. As such, it is very effective in treating opioid addiction by reducing the severity of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Like Methadone, it can also be used as part of a maintenance program to prevent relapse in recovering addicts who have completed their major treatment.

Naltrexone

This drug is used purely to prevent relapse in recovering addicts by making the use of opioids unpleasant. The drug counteracts the effects of opioids and produces sensations similar to that of opioid withdrawal when opioids enter the body. Rather than receiving the euphoric high that addicts crave, they get a painful reaction. While under the effects of Naltrexone, patients have no reason to seek out their drug of choice because it will not satisfy their addiction. The drug is often paired with Buprenorphine to provide the benefits of both drug treatments at once. Addicts will not crave opioids and will suffer a reaction even if they do try to relapse. This particularly effective combination is called Suboxone.

Opioid addiction is a difficult and lifelong process, so it will benefit addicts to use every treatment they have at their disposal to ensure the best chance at recovery. If you or someone you know has become addicted to opioids and needs treatment, the Prescription Drug Abuse Helpline of California can provide additional information and advice on the best treatments available. Call us today at 855-738-2770 to speak with a qualified de-addiction specialist.