Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is an effective approach used in the treatment of opioid use disorder. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines MAT as “the use of medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders and prevent opioid overdose.” The goal is to provide a “whole-patient” approach to treat severe opioid use disorders, a prevalent disorder that is ravaging the lives of millions each day in the United States.
Buprenorphine, Naloxone, and Naltrexone are three popular medications that are commonly prescribed for patients in medication-assisted treatment centers in South Florida. However, some of these substances have the potential for abuse. As a result, there is sometimes controversy surrounding the use of MAT drugs. Despite their potential for abuse, when these medications are taken correctly and are used in tandem with behavioral therapy, they are proven highly effective in treating addiction.
Buprenorphine for Opioid Use Disorder
Buprenorphine comes in many forms: Subutex, Suboxone, and Sublocade. The drug was approved for clinical use in October 2002 as a safer, less addictive medication than Methadone. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. As an opioid itself, it binds to the same receptors in the brain as opioids do to reduce craving and opioid withdrawal symptoms. However, even though buprenorphine is an opioid, it’s effects are much weaker than that of prescription and illicit opioids that people get addicted to. 
While Subutex, Suboxone, and Sublocade all contain buprenorphine, each medication differs from one another. Subutex contains only buprenorphine and comes as a sublingual tablet that dissolves under the tongue. Suboxone, on the other hand, contains buprenorphine and naloxone – a full opioid agonist that blocks the euphoric effects of opioids. Unlike Subutex, Suboxone is a sublingual film that dissolves under the tongue. Since the medication contains naloxone and comes as a film rather than a pill, it has a lower risk potential for abuse. The newest buprenorphine medication, approved by the FDA in 2017, is Sublocade. Sublocade has the lowest risk potential of all buprenorphine drugs as it is an extended-release monthly injection that is administered by a healthcare professional.
Naltrexone for Opioid Use Disorder
Naltrexone works differently than buprenorphine as it is not an opioid. There is no abuse or diversion potential when using naltrexone. Instead, naltrexone binds to and blocks opioid receptors to reduce opioid cravings. Consequently, if a person takes an opioid while on Naltrexone, he or she will not feel the euphoric and pleasurable effects of opioids. It prevents people from getting high. Naltrexone, unlike buprenorphine, is also used in the treatment of alcohol use disorder.
Naltrexone comes in pill form or as a monthly injection. In pill form, ReVia or Depade, are usually taken at 50mg doses once a day whereas the extended-release injection, Vivitrol, is administered at 380mg once a month. Naltrexone is not a controlled substance, so it can be prescribed by any healthcare provider who is licensed to prescribe medications. Unlike buprenorphine, a person must be sober from opioids for 7-10 days before starting Naltrexone.
How Medication-Assisted Treatment Works
Addiction and recovery are marked by intense cravings to use drugs even after detox, and sometimes after treatment. Unfortunately, these cravings can interfere with the treatment process. In addition, they can drive people to relapse. However, medications help eliminate cravings and promote sobriety.
MAT involves both medications and therapy. After all, medication alone is usually not enough to maintain long-term sobriety. Instead, therapy is an integral aspect of medication-assisted treatment programs in Delray Beach, FL. By eliminating cravings, individuals in MAT are able to focus fully on their therapy and personal growth. In therapy, patients will learn how to cope with their emotions as well as manage triggers for relapse. The goal of MAT is ultimately to taper individuals off of their medications so they can achieve sobriety without medication assistance. However, in severe cases, some people may remain on these medications indefinitely.
Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment
Individuals who are addicted to opioids typically abuse drugs on a daily basis. This increases tolerance, provokes a physical dependence, and results in withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Furthermore, many people get stuck in the cycle of getting high, withdrawing, finding drugs, and getting high again. In MAT programs, individuals are able to break free from this cycle of opioid addiction. MAT drugs allow individuals to focus fully on their sobriety, family, relationships, job, and mental and physical health.
Some benefits of medication-assisted treatment in Delray Beach, FL include:
- Reduced illicit drug use or prescription drug misuse
- Less criminal activity
- Eliminated drug cravings
- Reduced needle sharing incidences
- Lower rates of HIV infection and other blood-borne illnesses
- Better treatment outcomes
- Fewer suicide attempts
- Better eating habits
- Improved personal health
- Fewer opioid overdoses
- Stabilized mood in rehab patients
In addition, for people whom traditional addiction treatment didn’t work, MAT offers an innovative method of treating addiction that many people find effective.
Find MAT in Delray Beach, FL Today
Medication-assisted treatment isn’t for everyone. To find out if you can benefit from MAT in Delray Beach, FL, speak with your healthcare provider or an addiction specialist. Opioid addiction is a progressive, fatal illness that kills hundreds of Americans each day. If you or a loved one is suffering from opioid use disorder and is interested in MAT, don’t wait any longer. Reach out to the addiction specialists at Harmony Outpatient in Delray Beach, FL today.