While the ultimate goal of any type of addiction treatment is to do it in the most natural, holistic way possible that is not always an option. For some people, especially those who are suffering from an opioid addiction, the addiction is so severe that medication is needed during the treatment process. When that happens, it is known as medication-assisted treatment. While giving someone who suffers from a substance abuse addiction medication might seem counterproductive, it can actually be incredibly beneficial in the right situation. There are many different types of medications that can be used with medication-assisted treatment, each used in conjunction with counseling and therapy to help treat the patient for their addiction. This page will discuss in detail everything you need to know about medication-assisted treatment for women.
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?Medication-assisted treatment is a type of treatment that incorporates medication into the addiction treatment process. All medications that are provided through medication-assisted treatment are FDA approved. While MAT is typically used to treat those with an opioid addiction, it has also proven to be useful for people suffering from other types of addictions as well, particularly severe addiction to a substance. Medication-assisted treatment is combined with other types of therapies including counseling and therapy sessions in order to achieve the ultimate goal of sobriety.
Medication-assisted treatment has proven to be beneficial in the following ways:
- It improves the patient’s chances of survival
- It increases retention in treatment
- It helps the patients’ ability to get a job and keep it
- It helps improve the chances of a healthy, successful birth for women who are pregnant
- It helps prevent relapse
How Exactly Does MAT Work?While the concept of giving someone drugs in order to help them with a drug or alcohol addiction might seem to be completely counterproductive, it has been proven to work in many different types of addiction patients. Medication-assisted treatment has proven to be incredibly beneficial for those suffering from an opioid addiction, due to how addictive they are. Opioid addiction treatment is significantly more intensive than other types of treatments and often requires medication in order for treatment to be successful. If it is deemed that a person will benefit from MAT, they will be prescribed the medication by a doctor or other trained medical professional at the treatment facility. A staff member will also administer the medication in order to make sure that it is not being abused in any way. There are many different types of medications that have proven successful when it comes to treatment and in some cases, the person might try different types of medications until they find the one that works best for them.
What Types of Medications Are Used in Medication-Assisted Treatment?There are three main types of medications that have all been FDA approved for use in medication-assisted treatment. Those three medications are:
NaltrexoneNaltrexone helps patients who are dealing with the effects of opioid withdrawal. It can be taken either orally with a pill or injected. It is designed to block the euphoric high feeling that the brain craves when it is addicted to a substance. It also helps cut down on the urge to use again, thus lowering the chances of relapse. Potential side effects of naltrexone include:
- Muscle weakness
- Trouble sleeping
- Headaches and dizziness
BuprenorphineBuprenorphine is one of the more common medications used during MAT. In fact, it is the first medication that medical staff will try and it can be prescribed at any doctor’s office. Buprenorphine is the only medication used in medication-assisted treatment that can be administered by someone outside of a treatment facility. Buprenorphine typically is administered in pill form and it is designed to alleviate the side effects associated with opioid withdrawal as well as decrease the urge to want to use again. Potential side effects include:
- Drowsiness and sleepiness
MethadoneWhile methadone is an opioid, it can actually be used to treat an opioid addiction. In fact, because of its strength, methadone can curb the cravings and side effects associated with opioid withdrawal for as long as a day and a half with just one dose. Because it is such a strong opioid, methadone has the potential to be abused which is why it is important that it’s use and distribution be monitored by a medical professional at a designated treatment center or a facility such as a methadone clinic. Potential side effects include:
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced sex drive
- Mood swings
- Uncontrollable sweating
- Stomach pain
Can MAT Be Used To Treat Other Types of Addictions?While medication-assisted treatment is mostly used to treat opioid addiction, it has proven to be effective in treating other types of addictions as well. One of the other types of addictions that it has been proven to be successful in helping treat is alcohol addiction. There are three main types of medications that have been used to help treat alcohol addiction. They are:
NaltrexoneJust like with opioids, naltrexone has been proven to be effective for medication-assisted treatment for alcohol as well. Just like with opioids it helps block the euphoric effects that come along with drinking alcohol and allows those with an alcohol issue to reduce alcohol use and avoid relapsing.
AcamprosateAcamprosate is designed for those who are already in recovery and are trying to avoid a relapse. While it helps prevent someone from wanting to drink alcohol, it does not help prevent any sort of withdrawal symptoms. Acamprosate is typically administered after someone has remained completely sober for five days. It is administered in pill form and is taken three times a day. Side effects of acamprosate include:
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty sleeping
DisulfiramDisulfiram is used to treat the most extreme cases of alcoholism and is ideal for those who have already completed detox and are now beginning treatment. Disulfiram is administered in pill form and is taken once a day. Possible side effects include:
- Chest pains
- Difficulty breathing
How Do I Know If Medication-Assisted Treatment Is Right For Me?While ultimately, the decision will likely be made by the medical professionals at the treatment facility, there are certain factors that can help determine if MAT is right for a certain patient. First off, treatment professionals will take a look at the type of substance abuse as well as the severity to help determine if medication-assisted treatment is the best course of action. They will also see if a co-occurring disorder is present. The ideal candidate for MAT is someone who has:
- Been diagnosed with an opioid or severe alcohol addiction
- No physical issues that would prevent being prescribed the medication
- Fully understands the treatment process
- Agrees to follow all the rules and restrictions that come with MAT
- Not motivated to get sober
- Suffers from multiple substance addictions simultaneously
- Has a history of misuse and abuse of medication
- Suffers from health issues that might make MAT dangerous or deadly
- Do you struggle to stay sober after you have completed treatment?
- Do you find yourself relapsing constantly?
- Do you think you can take medication only as directed and not abuse it?
What Other Treatments Are Used in Conjunction with MAT?While MAT can help in someone’s recovery from drugs and alcohol, it is not a treatment that can be done on its own. If you are participating in a medication-assisted treatment program, you will also undergo other treatment methods in conjunction with that in order to treat your addiction. Complimentary treatments include:
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Holistic treatments