People in the treatment community often display strong feelings regarding the issue of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Understandably so. The idea of using narcotic medications to treat an addiction problem seems almost counter-intuitive. But relatively speaking, the scientific community only recognized chemical addiction as a medical disease within the last 50 years. So we should not be surprised that methods of treatment are still evolving alongside growing years of research and treatment results. That research continues pointing toward the success of MAT.
What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) combines the use of FDA-approved medications with the use of counseling and behavioral therapies. This provides a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of opiate use disorders. The most common MAT programs use:
- Naltrexone (Vivitrol): Opiate antagonist. Prevents opiate effects and decreases desire to take opiates. Also used to treat alcohol abuse. Taken as an injection (the Vivitrol shot) or in in pill form.
- Suboxone: Opiate agonist. Active ingredients buprenorphine and naloxone. Used to treat symptoms of opiate addiction and withdrawal. Carries high risk for addiction and dependence.
- Sublocade: Opiate agonist. Extended-release buprenorphine using propriety Astrigel technology. Monthly abdominal injection. Low risk for addiction due to controlled administration method.
- Methadone (Not Offered by New Start): Opioid agonist. Does not block other opioids. Prevents withdrawal. Daily liquid taken under supervision of clinic. Extremely habit-forming and often used for addiction substitution.
Naltrexone Vs. Buprenorphine-based Treatments
MAT options are guided on a case-by-case basis through experienced clinicians. Each client’s treatment regimen will be different. But two basic paths exist for clients at New Start Recovery: naltrexone or a buprenorphine-based treatment.
Naltrexone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opiates such as heroin and oxycodone. It is non-narcotic and non-habit forming. We recommend naltrexone over buprenorphine-based medications for most patients.
Buprenorphine is an opiate agonist used in an office-based setting. It does have narcotic properties, so extended maintenance requires altered forms like Suboxone (contains naloxone) and Sublocade (monthly extended release injection).
Ultimately, clinicians regiment medication-assisted treatment on an individual basis. Medication-assisted treatment isn’t right for everyone. Some find it to be a distraction from recovery. But the journey of recovery is more about building a new lifestyle and coping techniques through therapy. And MAT really helps put certain people on the right track. We encourage any individuals interested in MAT to call our addiction counselors 24/7 for a free case assessment: 855-737-7363Claim Your Recovery We offer 24/7 free assessments over the phone. Take that first step toward a better life.Call Us 855-737-7363