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Medication Assisted Treatment

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Medication Assisted Program in California

More than 67,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2018. From opioids to alcohol, there are plenty of dangerous substances that can destroy lives. It’s not possible to escape all the temptations in society. That’s why those who struggle with substance abuse must utilize as many methods of support as possible. Recovery isn’t easy, but a MAT program can help.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the therapeutic use of medications in substance abuse treatment. The use of medication is often combined with counseling and experiential therapies. This combination can reduce the risk of relapse, therefore also lowering the chances that a patient will overdose.

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The Benefits of a MAT Program: How Can Medications Assist with Recovery?

Research has shown that MAT is a clinically effective option for helping a patient recover from a period of substance abuse.

Some of the documented benefits of MAT include:

  • Improving patient survival rates
  • Increasing treatment retention
  • Decreasing the odds of risky behavior (ie: criminal activity and hard drugs)
  • Making it more likely the patient will be able to maintain employment
  • Reducing the risk of poor outcome in pregnant women with substance use disorders
  • Lowering the risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis C through relapse reduction

Medical Detox Versus MAT: Is There a Difference?

Upon initially entering rehab, the primary concern is detoxing. Most patients who struggle with substance abuse have developed a chemical dependency. This dependency is mental, physical, and emotional. Certain drugs have worse physical withdrawal symptoms than others.

During the detox stage, the harmful substance slowly leaves the body. With medical detox, professionals will supervise the patient during this process. Suddenly halting the use of a physically addictive substance can be life-threatening. Medical supervision ensures a professional is on hand to observe the patient and dispense medication if needed. The goal during this time is to get the patient’s mind and body back to their natural state.

With MAT, the goal is to support the patient’s ongoing sobriety. To do this, doctors provide medications that can reduce cravings and prevent deadly relapses. Some medications create an unpleasant reaction to a drug, reducing the desire to relapse again. MAT programs work best alongside counseling and behavioral therapies.

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Important Tools: What are the MAT Medications?

Doctors offer different medications at various phases of recovery. Each serves a purpose. Not every patient needs MAT. So, prescriptions are doled out carefully.

The Detox Stage

During the detox stage, the patient may receive:

  • Anti-nausea medication
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Anti-anxiety medication, such as benzodiazepines
  • Modafinil or other stimulants
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Clonidine or other sedatives

The Recovery Stage

Acamprosate

This drug can ease alcohol cravings. Long-term alcohol abuse changes brain chemistry. Acamprosate can help the brain begin to work normally again. It doesn’t stop withdrawal, and it doesn’t make relapse impossible. Instead, it strengthens the patient’s mind by improving brain chemistry. This makes a relapse far less likely.

Disulfiram

Drugs like Disulfiram help by creating a terrible reaction to alcohol. The patient will feel the effects of a hangover almost immediately after drinking. This reduces the desire to drink more.

Naltrexone

This drug is often prescribed to patients who are dealing with opiate addiction, but it’s also used in cases of alcoholism. It works by blocking the euphoric effects of opiate drugs or alcohol. Through binding to endorphin receptors in the body, it also effectively blocks cravings.

Methadone

Medical professionals have been using methadone as a heroin replacement since the early 1970s. Sometimes, a patient is either unwilling or unable to stop using. If that’s the case, replacing heroin with methadone is often the next best choice.

When taken as prescribed, methadone will stop opiate cravings and withdrawal. Unlike heroin, it doesn’t present a risk of overdose when used correctly. Patients usually visit the methadone clinic once a day to receive their maintenance dose. Over time, doctors may reduce the dose to help the patient wean off the methadone and achieve sobriety.

Buprenorphine

This medication is another replacement for opiate drugs. It can reduce the patient’s withdrawal symptoms, allowing them to wean off rather than endure a harsh detox. Doctors may prescribe the medication during the initial detox or for ongoing treatment. It can help patients wean off both heroin and methadone.

Antidepressants or Anti-anxiety Medications

Many people abuse substances to help them cope with other problems. Dual diagnosis patients may need medication to help with anxiety or depression as they work on healing.

Naloxone

Medical professionals use this medication to treat opiate overdose in the event of a relapse emergency. Hopefully, it never comes to that, but relapses do happen. And they happen often. Up to 60% of recovering addicts relapse.


Looking at Options: Is MAT the Right Choice for You?

Every situation is unique. A patient will need to discuss the pros and cons of MAT with their team when they begin the journey toward recovery. The use of MAT is common when people first enter treatment, but it’s not necessary for every patient to remain on medication long term. We offer it when it’s suitable.

If you’re interested in learning more about medication assisted treatment for alcohol or drugs, please reach out to us. Key to Recovery is a sub-acute detox and residential treatment center in Huntington Beach, CA. Our compassionate team will support you through every step of the recovery process.

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The Key To Recovery

At The Key to Recovery, our mission is greater than initial sobriety. Our goal is to empower our clients with the tools and motivation they will need for the rest of their lives. We operate 24/7. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible with the information that you need.
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