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Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is an alternative form of addiction treatment that has recently been gaining attention and growing in popularity. Previously, MAT was most commonly associated with Methadone or Antabuse. While Methadone is still in use today, other alternatives for opioid use are becoming standardized in drug treatment.

The first alternative that is worth mentioning is Naltrexone. Naltrexone is an opioid blocker, in that it binds to receptor sites to prevent opioids from binding. This prevents individuals from feeling the effects of opioids. The logic is that this should decrease the desire to use opioids, but this is not necessarily the case. This medication is available in a daily oral dose or 30 day injection. It may also reduce cravings for alcohol, but will not stop alcohol intoxication. The only issue with this medication is that it does not prevent the use of opioids and thus overdose is possible. In fact, it may be more likely, as individuals attempt to push past blockers and feel the effects of opioids. There is no abuse potential for this medication, as it does not produce an effect. 

Another alternative is Buprenorphine. This medication is available in two common sublingual medications. Buprenorphine is a partial antagonist and a partial agonist. So while it acts in some ways as a blocker, it also produces is own effect. Therefore, there is a potential for abuse of this medication. It can be abused orally or intravenously. This medication is frequently used to detox individuals from opioids.

Methadone is a much older MAT, and is typically given in a clinic setting. Individuals will attend the clinic daily, get medication, meet with a counselor, and be provided with a dose of medication. Take home privileges may be provided for individuals who are perceived to be doing well. Self-reports we have received regarding clinical services in this setting indicate that the services are meager. However, we are able to provide supplemental services to individuals on Methadone. This is a very challenging medication to take, or stop taking, so services are recommended.

There are other lesser known forms of MAT for different substances, such as alcohol.  One such medication is Antabuse.  This medication makes the individual violently ill if they consume even a small amount of alcohol.  Additionally, certain medications may have ancillary benefits towards cravings for certain substance, even though their on-label usage does not indicate this.  Questions regarding these concerns or any medication should be directed to your primary care physician or psychiatrist.

Realistically, any form of medication will require counseling. Medication can help with the physical component of addiction, but it will not work on the mental, emotional, or behavioral aspects of addiction. If you wish to try MAT, please do not do so alone. Fill out our get started form to provide us with some information regarding you and indicate that you wish to discuss MAT. We will contact you shortly for a free consultation. Let's get started!