Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a program which seeks to aid in the recovery process by reducing painful withdrawal symptoms associated with the detox and treatment of opioid addiction. Cravings and withdrawal can distract from treatment and limit a patient’s ability to experience a sustained recovery. MAT utilizes certain medications that are FDA approved to successfully treat substance abuse disorders and opioid addiction. These medications aid in staving cravings and promote sobriety.
MAT combines these medications with behavioral and mental health therapies to help manage the person’s tendency to use substances to cope while identifying certain triggers that may prevent abstinence.
In this article we will be discussing the various medications used in MAT and how we at Freedom Now approach our addiction treatment program.
An MAT clinic is a clinical facility that has been licensed to carry out medication-assisted treatment. The doctors at these clinics have gone through the proper training and licensing in order to prescribe the necessary medications for treatment, monitor the progress of the treatment, as well as suggest and help enroll clients into further treatment options: therapies, life-skills training, etc. These facilities specialize in treating opioid addiction and substance use disorders and have been effective in providing sustained recoveries.
However, there is a lack of clinics in the US that are capable of providing such care. There is a lack of opportunities for people to enroll in MAT programs that address opioid addiction and substance use disorders alongside underlying mental health issues and behavioral therapies – especially for those who have been suffering long-term abuse.
Due to these issues, Freedom Now now services South Florida in the treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD) with the help of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). All medications prescribed at our facility are FDA approved and our professional staff has undergone the proper training and licensing in order to provide the proper treatment program for you. We understand there may be complications in pursuing treatment for your addiction. That is why we offer intensive-outpatient programs designed to meet each individual’s specific needs.
At Freedom Now, the primary medication we use for our treatment process is Suboxone. Continue reading for more information on this medication and how it is used to treat opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders.
There are currently three medications that are approved by the FDA to treat opioid use disorder: Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naloxone. Each of these medications have been proven to be effective when combined with counseling and mental health support services.
Methadone is an opioid agonist. This means that it can produce similar effects of other opiates. Unlike other opiates, however, methadone is a long-acting drug, the effects are milder and controlled so as to not affect the immediate function of the body or produce adverse effects in treatment.
Methadone is primarily used to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Because it has a higher tendency for abuse, Methadone is only administered at MAT clinics.
Buprenorphine acts similarly to Methadone but in a much more limited way. Buprenorphine is a partial-opioid agonist and produces little to no cognitive effects. As to treating substance use disorder and opioid addiction, Buprenorphine is one of the only drugs that can be provided directly from your doctor. Buprenorphine is used to aid in the reduction of withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and other symptoms associated with substance use cessation.
The ability to obtain Buprenorphine has increased the sense of caution when approaching MAT, especially as a semi-opiate. Yet, Buprenorphine is almost never prescribed on its own. Most often Buprenorphine is combined with Naloxone to prevent abuse. If used properly, there is a low risk of abuse and can effectively alleviate unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Naloxone is the opposite of Methadone and Buprenorphine. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist which means that it completely blocks the euphoric effects on opioid misuse and can prevent the risk of overdose. In some cases, Naloxone is administered as an injection (only administered by a medical professional in the state of an emergency). Most often, Naloxone is combined with Buprenorphine to help limit the effects of Buprenorphine and further reduce the risk of Buprenorphine abuse. Freedom Now uses a combination of these drugs called Suboxone.
Suboxone is the combination of Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Suboxone, until more recently, was only cleared to be administered at MAT Clinics, but has become attainable in certain doctor’s offices and pharmacies. This medication comes in the form of a sublingual film (dissolvable film) which goes under your tongue. There is a low risk of abuse associated with Suboxone and has been proven to be an effective medication in MAT programs.
In 2017 more than 2.1 million people were diagnosed with opioid use disorder – over 500,000 of which battled with heroin dependency. The purpose of MAT’s development was to be an effective method for substantially minimizing the increase of opioid dependency and reducing the need for inpatient addiction care. Yet, MAT supplies more than just providing medications for treatment purposes. MAT programs can offer extensive outpatient treatment options that are tailored to your life-style, your specific addiction needs, and supply comprehensive counseling and psychological health related therapies to help in altering dangerous habitual patterns. There are also further treatment options available with MAT to assist you once medication-assisted treatment ceases.
Despite studies proving the effectiveness of the MAT in fighting opioid abuse, there is a lack of availability for such programs. Some studies have shown that the availability and enrollment for such programs have dropped to nearly 28% in cases where opioid addiction was diagnosed. The reality is, there are a great deal of misunderstandings about MAT programs and how they substitute abused medications with recommended medications in order to treat compound usage. There may also be issues in receiving this form of care as it is still slowly being adopted by many health care facilities across the United States.
The main goal of medication-assisted treatment is to target underlying mental health issues alongside the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD) as well as other substance abuse disorders. These programs prioritize counseling, psychological treatment, and behavioral therapies over the use of medications in recovery. The purpose is to eventually wean patients off of drugs like Suboxone in order for our clients to truly make a long-term, sustained recovery. Utilizing these treatments enables our clients to free themselves of opioid dependence while improving their daily life and opening up opportunities for future success. It is our desire to see each of our patients through to a sustained recovery with MAT.