Approximately one in 10 Americans — 23.5 million people — over the age of 12 currently suffer from an addiction to alcohol or drugs. Of those who struggle with addiction, only about 11 percent actually receive treatment to overcome that addiction. If you’re dealing with addiction, there are many different treatment options available. One of the most popular and effective options is known as medication-assisted treatment. Read on to learn more about this treatment and why it might be a good option for you.
What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?Medication-assisted treatment, also known as MAT, involves the use of specific medications to minimize withdrawal symptoms and help people who struggle with addiction to get and stay sober. In addition to being prescribed these medications, individuals involved in MAT also work with counselors and attend support group meetings. The purpose of these sessions is to get support, work on habit change, and learn healthy ways to cope with stress and triggers. MAT is often part of a larger addiction treatment option, such as inpatient or outpatient treatment. Many people transition to MAT after they’ve completed one of these programs so they can continue with their recovery on their own.
Types of Addiction MedicationThere are several different medications one might be prescribed while they’re involved in MAT. The following are some of the most popular medications for those dealing with addiction:
SuboxoneSuboxone is the brand name for buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is similar to methadone, another popular addiction treatment medication. It binds to the opioid receptors and minimizes pain. It does get one high when they consume it, though. The potential for addiction to buprenorphine is lower than the potential for addiction to methadone, too. Methadone has to be dispensed from a methadone clinic, while buprenorphine can be delivered to one’s door or picked up from a pharmacy.
VivitrolVivitrol is the brand name for naltrexone. This drug is designed to help those who are struggling with alcohol addiction. Naltrexone works by blocking the receptors in the brain that are responsible for the pleasurable effects brought on by consuming alcohol. Naltrexone minimizes one’s urge to drink. It may also cause side effects like nausea and headaches.
AntabuseAntabuse is another medication for those struggling with alcoholism. Antabuse is the brand name for disulfiram. Disulfiram was the first medication approved to treat alcoholics. When someone is taking disulfiram and they also consume alcohol, they will experience severe symptoms like nausea and vomiting. It helps to deter one from drinking so that they can avoid feeling sick as a result.
CampralCampral is the brand name for acamprosate. This drug helps to minimize the emotional and physical distress that often occurs when one gives up alcohol. Many recovering alcoholics begin taking acamprosate after they’ve finished detoxing. It minimizes the urge to drink and helps to prevent negative feelings of depression and anxiety.
Benefits of MATThere are lots of reasons why someone might want to utilize these medications to help them overcome their addiction. The following are some of the most well-known benefits of MAT:
Fewer Withdrawal SymptomsOne of the greatest benefits of MAT is the fact that it can help to minimize withdrawal symptoms. Addiction withdrawal symptoms can be severe and even deadly in some cases. By managing withdrawal symptoms, individuals are more likely to stay on track with their recovery and continue to participate in other aspects of their treatment (such as therapy and group meetings).
Fewer CravingsWhen you’re using medications like those listed above, you’ll experience fewer cravings for drugs or alcohol. The desire to drink or use drugs might not go away altogether. It will be minimized for most people, though.
Reduction in Overdose-Related DeathsAs soon as one stops using drugs or alcohol, the body begins recalibrating itself. When this happens, you’re more likely to overdose if you relapse and consume drugs or alcohol again. This is true even if you take the same dosage that you used to take when you were consuming these substances on a regular basis. MAT helps to reduce the likelihood that you will overdose or experience a fatal overdose should you relapse.
Better Patient OutcomesLast, but certainly not least, research shows that medication-assisted treatment can lead to better patient outcomes. It’s especially effective for those struggling with an addiction to opioid drugs. MAT is especially effective when it’s paired with counseling and other treatment modalities.
Ideal Candidates for MATClearly, there are lots of benefits that result from medication-assisted treatment. It’s not an ideal option for everyone, though. The following people are generally considered to be the best candidates for MAT:
- Those who have received an official diagnosis of opioid or alcohol addiction
- Those who are fully willing to comply with prescription instructions
- Those who are in relatively good health and don’t have symptoms that would be exacerbated by medication
- Those who do not have a history of medication abuse
- Those who do not suffer from a co-occurring addiction
- Those who have a high level of motivation to get sober