Medical research definitively indicates that many with substance use disorders related to opioids and alcohol benefit from some form of medication-assisted treatment to achieve recovery. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) strongly supports the use of medication as part of an integrated treatment program. According to NIDA, medication-assisted treatment may increase patient retention in addiction treatment programs and decrease the rate of relapse among alcoholics or addicts in recovery.
This combination of therapies is known as Medication Assisted Treatment, or MAT. MAT is commonly integrated into treatment for opioid and alcohol substance use disorders.
What Is Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)?
Addiction, and the process of recovery, typically feature intense cravings to use even after successful completion of detox and treatment programs. Cravings, common for those struggling to stay clean, can interfere with treatment and increase the risk of relapse. Fortunately, there are medications that have proven to be successful in helping to ward off cravings and support abstinence. The combination of medications with therapies that teach how to manage cravings and triggers can promote extended periods of sobriety.
Types of Medications Used with Medication Assisted Treatment
There are several medications prescribed to treat two significant drugs of addiction: opioids and alcohol. There are currently no FDA-approved medications used to treat other types of drug addiction, such as benzodiazepines, cocaine, or marijuana dependence. Below are the commonly prescribed medications used for the treatment of opioid dependence at Clearpoint:
Vivitrol (naltrexone): As medication assisted treatment’s only injectable medication, Vivitrol has been approved by the FDA since 2010 for use in programs that treat opioid addiction. Administered only once each month, this medication wards off opioid cravings, alleviates physical symptoms of withdrawal, and prevents overdose from occurring. Vivitrol treatment can be extremely effective at helping defeat addiction to opioids, and has a proven track record of preventing individuals in recovery from experiencing a relapse. Studies show that medication assisted treatment alone is not the answer, but combined with therapeutic interventions success rates increase.
Subutex (buprenorphine): First approved in 2002 by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use with medication assisted treatment programs, Subutex has been a medication option for those who wish to live opioid-free life. A partial opioid agonist-antagonist that contains buprenorphine (it occupies the same receptors in the brain that opioid drugs target), Subutex is often prescribed to individuals at the start of treatment, with the goal of transitioning them to Suboxone for long-term maintenance. When taken as prescribed, users will not get the same “high” or the other effects of the opioid drug they abused. Subutex can help people recover from opioid abuse and avoid withdrawal symptoms by blocking opioid cravings and physical withdrawal symptoms with little to no risk.
Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone): Suboxone is a medication used to treat opioid dependence, containing buprenorphine and naloxone. Similar to Subutex, Suboxone helps to alleviate the physical symptoms of withdrawal and decrease cravings for continued opioid use. One of the advantages of treatment with Suboxone is that it cannot be taken to achieve a full opioid effect, making it more difficult to abuse than other forms of medication-assisted treatment, such as methadone. This medication is also often used as a long-term medication option after a person begins treatment with Subutex.
Sublocade (buprenorphine extended-release): The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Sublocade, the first once-a-month injectable form of buprenorphine, in November of 2017 to treat moderate to severe opioid use disorder, as part of a medication assisted treatment program. Sublocade comes in a syringe, and is injected into the subcutaneous tissue above the abdomen. The viscous liquid forms a solid deposit containing buprenorphine providing therapeutic levels of buprenorphine for up to one month.
Learn More About MAT
In order to determine which of these medications or blend of therapeutic services is best suited to meet an individual’s needs, contact us to schedule an assessment. Thorough assessments help team members, including on-site psychiatrists, nurses, and therapist, determine which MAT is most effective and appropriate and what type of therapeutic interventions will best support an individual’s progress in their recovery. To learn more about the MAT offered at Clearpoint, or to find out more about the other types of substance abuse treatment services available, contact us today.