According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medication to improve recovery outcomes and prevent harm to people with substance use disorders. MAT is most widely used for treating addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain killers that contain opiates. Treatment programs, like Everlast, utilize these specific medications to support the therapy and psychoeducation that are provided during a client’s treatment episode.
Substance use disorder treatment providers offer MAT as a therapeutic intervention in order to help their clients achieve the greatest success in their recovery. Some medications act as a substitute for the person’s misused substance, allowing them to avoid potential negative consequences of using illicit substances. Other medications are used to help block the action of the substance so that using it does not provide the desired feeling.
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Medication-assisted treatment for opiate use disorders comes in three main forms approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
- Buprenorphine (Suboxone)
- Naltrexone (Vivitrol)
As an opiate, buprenorphine works differently than other opiates in the brain. While it binds to the same receptors, it stimulates them less than other opiates, resulting in less of the pleasurable sensations people seek from opiate use. While occupying the receptors in the brain, it prevents other, more powerful opiates from binding. Receptors are partially inactive, meaning the risk of overdose is decreased.
Buprenorphine works by preventing people from experiencing withdrawal symptoms while reducing cravings for the original substance of misuse. The FDA reports buprenorphine as effective and with low abuse potential when used as prescribed. The medication may be given as a strip that dissolves in the mouth. The other FDA approved distribution of the medication is through injection or an under-the-skin implant.
Side effects of this medication resemble many opiates and include:
Buprenorphine may be combined with other medications. For example, Suboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, a drug similar to naltrexone. Facilities like Everlast, use Suboxone and other combination medications to decrease the potential for misuse and increase effectiveness.
Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist, meaning it blocks the action of opiates in the brain. It contains no opiates and carries no risk of physical dependence, according to SAMHSA. Naltrexone stops opiates from working by attaching to and blocking the receptors in the brain. If a person uses opiates after taking naltrexone, they will not experience any of the feelings they might expect from an opiate. Naltrexone has been FDA-approved as the brand name Vivitrol, a monthly injection that prevents opiates from working in the person’s brain for the entire month.
The Vivitrol injection may be given immediately after the completion of a detox program, as clients must be off opiates for several days before receiving it. Naltrexone does not only bind to opiate receptors but will also kick off any opiates currently attached to them. If a client has opiates in their system while receiving the Vivitrol injection, they will go into immediate withdrawal.
Side effects of naltrexone have been reported by SAMHSA as including:
The FDA has approved medications that contain buprenorphine and naloxone (related to naltrexone), including Suboxone. These dual medications work by providing withdrawal symptom relief and easing cravings with buprenorphine while preventing stronger or larger doses of opiates from working with naloxone.
People usually receive methadone at clinics that also offer counseling and other forms of treatment. Methadone is an opiate, meaning it belongs in the same class of drugs as morphine and heroin. People do not get the same “high” from methadone that they would from typically misused opiates. However, even when used as prescribed, it is possible to develop a dependence on methadone.
What Types of Medications Does Everlast Use?
At Everlast Recovery Centers, we strive for complete abstinence for all of our clients. However, we recognize that all clients have unique needs and circumstances. Our expert medical professionals and trained clinical staff will help determine the best course of treatment.
Our preferred method of assisting treatment with medication is the use of naltrexone in the form of Vivitrol. With no potential for addiction or dependence and no risk of overdose, naltrexone offers safe, effective treatment for supporting people in recovery from opiates.
Since naltrexone or Vivitrol is not an opiate and does not activate any opiate receptors, no potential for misuse exists.
Under certain circumstances, people may require treatment with buprenorphine or a combination medication like Suboxone. If necessary, clients may also be prescribed methadone. However, we provide them with a plan to ensure that they are referred to a medical provider to oversee their medication taper. All of the decisions we make regarding MAT are always under the care and direction of our expert medical team.
At Everlast, we maintain our primary goal of keeping our clients safe and providing dedicated, client-centered care. Every client who walks into our facility is treated as a unique individual and we take MAT interventions with the utmost care and attention. We are committed to your recovery, and therefore we will be sure that you are supported throughout your treatment with us.