Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in Boca Raton, Florida
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is an important evidence-based treatment to help people with moderate or severe addictions to alcohol, opioid drugs, and even tobacco. Managing the withdrawal process with a tapering plan, a prescription medication, and a doctor’s oversight helps people focus on other aspects of the recovery process, like group therapy.
You can learn new habits at Boca Recovery Center, a leading MAT provider in Florida.
Boca Recovery Center & Medication-Assisted Treatment Options
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the slow, tapered, doctor-monitored process of taking a prescription medication to detox the body, to end physical dependence on an intoxicating substance.
MAT is not needed or helpful for everyone who seeks recovery, starting with detox, but for those who have struggled for a long time with consistent, high-volume consumption of drugs or alcohol, using a prescription medication can help them focus on ending compulsive behaviors associated with substance abuse and focus on other parts of the rehabilitation process. This process should be monitored and tapered by a medical professional.
The Boca Recovery Center in Boca Raton, Florida, is one of the leading providers of Medication-Assisted Treatment in this area. MAT has been shown to reduce the risk of relapse, help individuals focus on counseling during recovery, and improve other outcomes from treatment.
The Process of Medication-Assisted Treatment
When you begin addiction recovery treatment, the first step is detox. This means you will focus on overcoming your body’s physical dependence on drugs or alcohol by simply not taking them. Since this often causes withdrawal symptoms like intense cravings, high stress, physical fatigue and weakness, and stomach upset, it is important that a team of medical professionals who understand the detox process monitor you and manage symptoms.
In some cases, a person might have taken very large doses of drugs, been consistently intoxicated every day, or struggled with substance abuse for years. These individuals may not be able to safely stop taking drugs in a traditional detox program. MAT is designed to provide additional help.
The first Medication-Assisted Treatment was approved to help people overcome alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, the opioid abuse and overdose epidemic in the United States has become the focus of many MAT programs.
In 2018, as many as 2 million people in the US had an addiction to opioids like heroin, OxyContin, Vicodin, and fentanyl. Modern approaches to MAT have significantly improved outcomes for people trying to overcome opioid addiction. Newer medications are also helping people overcome AUD and tobacco addiction.
Alcohol: There are two common prescriptions to reduce cravings for alcohol and lessen the euphoric feeling from drinking.
- Acamprosate: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) specifically approved this medication as a post-withdrawal maintenance medicine. This means the person must be abstinent from alcohol when they begin taking it. Acamprosate can help to normalize brain chemistry after chronic alcohol consumption, which reduces cravings and some withdrawal symptoms. Some medical studies show that acamprosate helps to reduce the risk of relapse and increase the number of abstinent days, compared to not taking any supportive medication. This specific medication is considered better for people who aim to completely stop drinking rather than reduce their alcohol consumption. It takes about five to eight days to become effective.
- Naltrexone: This medication also reduces cravings, and it is available in either an extended-release injection or a daily oral medication. Like acamprosate, naltrexone reduces cravings for alcohol and reduces the effect of alcohol in the body when the person does drink, so there are fewer positive effects. However, naltrexone blocks opioid receptors in the brain, which alcohol can trigger as well. Unlike acamprosate, it is possible to take naltrexone in the early stages of withdrawal, while still drinking or learning to moderate drinking; however, the medication is more effective for people who are achieving abstinence.
Opioids: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that there was a 30 percent increase in overdose deaths from opioids in 2020, potentially related to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 93,000 people died from overdoses in that year. This makes MAT more vital than ever before, to reduce the number of preventable deaths.
There are three medications that can be used as part of Medication-Assisted Treatment for opioid use disorder:
- Buprenorphine: One of the more popular withdrawal management prescriptions available, buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, so it does not cause the same intense intoxication as full opioid agonists. Buprenorphine stays in the system for a long time, so it can manage brain chemistry for several hours. This allows people with moderate or severe OUD to overcome behaviors associated with opioid use and focus on therapy. Buprenorphine is also available as an outpatient medication, supervised by a trained physician. This makes it much more accessible for more people than an early MAT, methadone. Buprenorphine is also combined with naloxone in various formulas, to reduce the risk of an overdose in the event of a relapse. One of the first medications with this combination is Suboxone. A similar combination in sublingual tablet form is Subutex, and there are now generic brands of Suboxone available.
- Methadone: Although methadone is a full opioid agonist, it has a long half-life. When taken with supervision, this medication can dramatically reduce cravings in people who have struggled for a long time with high-volume substance abuse. Since methadone is a potent prescription, it is only given to people who need a longer tapering process. It is only supplied under direct supervision in a certified outpatient treatment program.
- Naltrexone: This medication is also effective at blocking opioid drugs, so there is less euphoria if the person relapses. However, unlike with alcohol, naltrexone requires the person taking it to have been abstinent from opioids for at least seven days, preferably 10 to 14 days for those who struggled with long-acting opioids or who took methadone as MAT.
Tobacco: Smoking cessation is an important step for many people. Quitting cigarettes or other tobacco products reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, and lung disease, among other health benefits.
While it is difficult to overdose on tobacco, nicotine is a particularly difficult drug to stop using. MAT has proven very helpful for those attempting to quit. The two most prescribed medications are bupropion (Zyban) and varenicline (Chantix).
Outcomes From Medication-Assisted Treatment
Medication-Assisted Treatment is one of the most helpful approaches to recovery for people who struggle with long-term, high-dose opioid or alcohol addiction. It is particularly beneficial for people overcoming OUD. A 2015 study, for example, found that 60 percent of the participants who had received a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone remained abstinent in the months after treatment.
While it may seem problematic to treat an addiction to drugs with another drug, many medical studies have shown that Medication-Assisted Treatment is the best process for people who have moderate to severe addiction to tobacco, alcohol, or opioids.
When the brain and body have been physically dependent on substances for a long time, simply quitting cold turkey can do more harm than good. Adding medication in a supervised setting, with a tailored plan to ease the person off physical dependence on any substance, has the best long-term impact on health and happiness.
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Medication-Assisted Treatment for Substance Use Disorders. Boca Recovery Center.
Use of Pharmacotherapies in the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorders and Opioid Dependence in Primary Care. (January 2015). BioMed Research International.
Information About Medication Assisted Treatment. (February 2019). US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Drug Overdose Deaths in 2020 Hit Highest Number Ever Recorded, CDC Data Shows. (July 2021). CNN.com.
Buprenorphine. (May 2021). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Methadone. (June 2021). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Naltrexone. (September 2020). Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
Long-Term Follow-Up of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Addiction to Pain Relievers Yields “Cause for Optimism.” (November 2015). National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).