When people think of drug abuse treatment, they don’t imagine it’s possible to use medication to reduce physical and psychological dependence on drugs.
However,medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders is backed by solid research and may be precisely what you need for your sobriety journey. Let’s take a closer look at this form of treatment and examine what medications are used in MAT.
Medication Assisted Treatment
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) refers to the use of drugs or medications to reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms and cravings for alcohol or opioids. Using medication to counter the effects of addictive drugs started in the United States in the 1970s and became more widespread in the 1990s as a treatment for opioid use disorders.
Uncovering the Science Behind What Medications Are Used in Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
The drugs used in MAT are usually grouped as either agonists or antagonists.
Agonist drugs used in MAT cause the brain to release the same hormones triggered by alcohol or opioids. Complete or full agonists cause a faster release of the hormones, while partial agonists stimulate a slower release of these hormones. In contrast, antagonist drugs block brain cells from receiving the signal to release the hormones that drugs like alcohol and opioids normally trigger.
FDA-approved medications that are commonly used in drug addiction treatment include:
Methadone treatment pioneered MAT programs for opioid use disorders in the United States. Methadone is a full agonist, producing the same effect as opioids. People in treatment for opioid use can only receive methadone maintenance treatment through a certified opioid treatment program.
Prescription methadone produces euphoric and sedative effects without the withdrawal symptoms caused by misusing illegal or prescription opioids. Addiction specialists adjust your dose over time as you get a better handle on your opioid addiction. Depending on your level of opioid dependence, you may be placed in long-term methadone maintenance therapy to help manage cravings.
Buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist drug, produces effects similar to opioids, but at a slower rate. Buprenorphine treatment helps people with opioid use disorder successfully detox without experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.
The drug also stabilizes your brain chemistry, making you more receptive to other treatment methods, such as behavioral therapies. You can receive buprenorphine tablets, injections or implants through a treatment program or from a physician.
Naloxone, popularly known as Narcan, is an antagonist that quickly blocks the effects of opioids like morphine and heroin. Naloxone treatment is fast-acting and is administered as an emergency nasal spray or injection in cases of opioid overdose.
Naltrexone is an antagonist drug that blocks the euphoric and sedating effects of alcohol and opioids. It also helps reduce cravings and lowers the chances of relapse.
Naltrexone is administered in pill form as a treatment for alcohol abuse. For opioid abuse, naltrexone is provided as an extended-release injectable suspension, and the effects can last for weeks. It’s also used as part of a long-term treatment plan to curb cravings for alcohol, heroin, or prescription opioids.
This antagonist drug is used to curb cravings in people with alcohol use disorder. It can’t prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms, so it’s not prescribed until a few days after beginning detox. Acamprosate doesn’t cause addiction, and it only works when it’s taken. Thus, it may need to be taken over a long period in treatment for alcohol abuse.
Acamprosate tablets help stabilize neurotransmitters and balance your brain chemistry, properties that can allow you to focus better on other forms of treatment.
Disulfiram is an antagonist drug that causes sweating, headaches, vomiting, overall body weakness, and mental disorientation if taken within 12 hours of consuming alcohol. One tablet can induce these symptoms for up to an hour.
Rather than actively reducing alcohol cravings, disulfiram works by producing intensely unpleasant symptoms that discourage you from drinking even small amounts of alcohol.
Treatment Programs at Camelback Recovery
Medication-assisted treatment is designed to be used alongside other forms of substance abuse treatment. You may benefit from MAT while undergoing treatment at Camelback Recovery in Phoenix, Arizona. Our mental health services administration team can help you sort through the cognitive and behavioral issues that cause and contribute to your substance use disorder so you can achieve long-term sobriety.