Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) refers to the combined use of medications, counseling, and therapy to treat substance abuse disorders, overdoses, and help recovering addicts sustain their sobriety.
While medication-assisted treatment can also be used for alcoholism, it’s mostly geared toward treating addictions to opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers. This is one of the many substance abuse programs that have been created to combat the opioid epidemic and the ongoing problem of alcoholism in the United States.
As a drug and alcohol treatment center in Chicago, we’ve helped many people achieve sobriety and take back control of their lives. While addiction treatment is one of the safest ways to overcome a substance abuse disorder, medication-assisted treatment can definitely be considered a step in the right direction.
Medication-Assisted Therapy for Addiction
In 2018, around 2 million people struggled with an opioid use disorder, including prescription painkillers and heroin.1 As a response to the ongoing opioid abuse problems in the U.S., medication-assisted therapy was introduced to address the specific facets of opioid use disorders and the necessary measures that must be taken to help addicts recover. The program has also been expanded to treat alcohol use disorders, as well.
The effectiveness of MAT treatment for opioid addiction and alcoholism has been proven through extensive research and conducted studies. Like a detox program, medication-assisted treatment offers individualized treatment for withdrawal symptoms and incorporates therapies to target the emotional and mental effects of substance abuse. The program’s goals are to prevent overdose-related deaths, decrease substance abuse-related criminal activity, help patients obtain and sustain employment, and improve birth outcomes among pregnant women with substance abuse disorders.
At Banyan Chicago, we offer cognitive and dialectical behavioral therapy that addresses the social, mental, and emotional aspects of substance abuse. They focus on revealing any problems within these parameters that may have contributed to the individual’s addiction. These therapies also address the effects that thoughts and emotions have on behavior.
What Medications Are Used in MAT?
MAT incorporates medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat opioid and alcohol use disorders. These medications are meant to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal and treat chemical imbalances in the brain that may contribute to psychological cravings.
Medications for Alcohol Use Disorders
Acamprosate: This medication is for alcoholics in recovery. While it helps prevent drinking, it doesn’t alleviate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal that may occur during recovery. MAT gives acamprosate to individuals who have been sober for at least five days and begins to take full effect within five and eight days. If the individual is drinking while taking this medication, the medication will not be effective, and the combination may result in adverse side effects.
Disulfiram: This medication specifically treats the effects of long-term alcohol abuse and is most effective in people who have undergone an alcohol detox before treatment.
Naltrexone: Helps people who are currently trying to reduce their consumption of alcohol. Helps alcoholics stay motivated to continue addiction treatment.
Medications for Opioid Dependency
Buprenorphine: This medication helps reduce and prevent addiction cravings for opioids, including heroin and prescription painkillers.
Naltrexone: Naltrexone helps to prevent the effects of opioids on the brain. Users become addicted to the euphoric feeling that opioids produce; once this feeling is blocked, it helps addicts wean off of the drug.
Methadone: Methadone is another medication that helps reduce addiction cravings, but also helps to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Like naltrexone, it can also block the effects of opioids, making it easier for addicts to stop using.
Medications for Opioid Overdose Prevention
Naloxone: Naloxone is known for treating opioid-related overdoses. It works rapidly to reverse the effects of an overdose.
While these medications are being used to treat opioid and alcohol addiction, they are not meant to replace one addiction with another. Even if you or a loved one has access to any of these medications, you should not attempt to detox or treat yourself at home. The most effective way to recover from substance abuse is with professional treatment. At Banyan Treatment Centers Chicago, we offer a variety of addiction programs, including our opiate addiction program and treatment for alcoholism.
Do not let substance abuse run your life. Take back control by calling our rehab center in Illinois at 888-280-4763 today.
Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.