Medication-assisted treatment is a type of drug therapy that combines the use of medications – prescribed by doctors – with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide an added measure of safety for those who suffer from an addiction. The goal is to address both the dependence and the problem behavior and promote recovery.
More than four times as many people died from drug overdose (OD) than from homicide in the first month of 2021.96,779 drug overdose deaths were reported from March 2020 to March 2021.
Medication-assisted treatment for substance abuse can last up to 12 months.
The medication used is monitored very closely by physicians to prevent addiction, misuse and diversion for personal use.
It’s also important to understand that MAT treatment isn’t the same as drug replacement therapy or maintenance treatment, which can be associated with illicit substances such as heroin. It involves prescribed medications to treat the disease of addiction itself.
Why is Detoxification the First Phase of Recovery?
Detoxification is a process of allowing the body to rid itself of an addictive substance. Drugs and alcohol disrupt the brain’s natural chemical balance, which affects areas that control pleasure and motivation. Detoxification safely manages these withdrawal symptoms to help recovering addicts focus on early recovery and building a foundation for long-term sobriety.
What Situations Require Someone to Undergo Medication-assisted Treatment for Substance Abuse?
Medication-assisted treatment is most effective when used as part of comprehensive addiction treatment with evidence supporting its use in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies compared to standard care such as 12-step programs alone (Michigan Model).
Why is MAT Often Used in Detox?
MAT is used in detox because it can make it easier for someone who is addicted to manage withdrawal symptoms. MAT medications, such as methadone or buprenorphine help with cravings, physical withdrawal symptoms and drug detoxification. Research shows that medication-assisted treatment for substance abuse is safe and effective when made available to anyone with opioid dependence.
How Does MAT Work in Addiction Treatment?
Medication-assisted treatment can be used during the initial period of detoxification in which they are administered alongside other medications to relieve cravings. Patients will stay on methadone or buprenorphine maintenance therapy for several months to years after they complete detox depending on their level of dependence.
Some people may need long-term treatment with medication-assisted treatment because of their level of addiction. Medication-assisted treatment is common for inpatient, partial hospitalization, and certain outpatient treatment facilities.
How Much Does Detoxication and MAT Treatment Cost?
Detoxification treatment can cost around $3,000 but patients will have to pay for the medication each month once they complete detox. Depending on the patient’s financial situation, methadone may be free but buprenorphine is not always covered by health insurance and can cost up to $300 a month.
MAT has been proven effective when used correctly and if other methods such as counseling or therapy are also employed alongside medication-assisted treatment. For most recovering people whose insurance will cover MAT over non-MAT, medication-assisted therapy will be preferable for addiction to certain drugs.
- Methadone treatment: $126/week or $6,552/year
- Buprenorphine treatment: $115/week or $5,980/year
- Naltrexone treatment: $1,176.50/month or $14,112/year
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What Forms of Substance Abuse Need Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. Alcohol-use disorders are the most common form of addiction in the United States, and have been linked with everything from car accidents to pancreatitis. In New Jersey, 2,016 annual deaths are attributable to excessive alcohol use. 70.8% of deaths are male. New Jersey averages one alcohol-related death for every 3,445 adults over 18 or 2.9 deaths for every 10,000 adults.
This stimulant can cause long term damage to blood vessels which increases the risk for heart attack or stroke by damaging the lining of the blood vessel wall. This makes it necessary for some people who chronically use cocaine to undergo coronary artery bypass surgery to improve blood flow around diseased arteries.
Opioids or opiates are drugs derived from opium compounds naturally found in plants such as poppy seeds. Opioids partially bind to chemical receptors in areas within the brain associated with feelings of pain and pleasure (especially dopamine), causing effects such as pain relief, sedation, sleepiness, euphoria, and decreased respiration.
Examples include oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, and heroin. Although an opioid, heroin effects on brain chemistry mimic that of alcohol leading many users to use both drugs simultaneously.
Methamphetamines are a highly addictive stimulant that causes increased alertness, heart rate and blood pressure. They are chemically similar to amphetamine but have stronger effects. Methamphetamines are usually snorted or injected into the bloodstream, or smoked in combination with tobacco or marijuana in a joint.
Benzodiazepines are a central nervous system depressant and are prescribed to treat anxiety, seizures, insomnia and alcohol withdrawal. The most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines in the United States include alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam (Ativan). Benzodiazepines have been shown to be highly addictive and can have fatal consequences when combined with opioids or alcohol.
What Withdrawal Symptoms Does MAT Treat?
The withdrawal symptoms used in MAT include:
- Increased body temperature
- Increased sweating
How Does MAT Work?
MAT works by replacing a drug with a safer, more manageable medication that can help the user control the cravings and withdrawal symptoms. MAT helps to stop drug abuse while also treating the side effects of addiction. It is important that MAT treatment be combined with behavioral therapy in order for it to be successful.
What Should I Know Before Entering MAT Treatment?
When you enter MAT, it will be in a safe and supportive environment. You will be able to focus on treatment without the interference of drugs or alcohol. In addition, this program is completely confidential – your name is not required upon entry and you are anonymous under New Jersey Law.
You can receive MAT at any NJ state-licensed outpatient treatment center. When entering the program, you will need your:
- Valid I.D
- Social security card
- Proof of address
The process for MAT is long because there are many different treatments and medications that may be used in order to find the best solution for each individual case. At some programs, you can take part in MAT while still attending school or work.
Can Medication-Assisted Treatment for Substance Abuse Treat Overdoses?
In its simplest definition, the medication used in MAT is a substitute for the illicit substance that was being abused. The idea behind MAT is to slowly wean people off of their narcotic addiction by allowing them to function normally and independently without extreme physical symptoms of withdrawal.
What are the Different Medications Used in Medication-assisted Treatment for Substance Abuse?
There are several medications used to treat individuals with substance use disorders. It’s vital to receive the quality of care to continue treatment.
Buprenorphine is a medication, also known as a partial agonist, that acts on the same receptors in the brain as other opioids. When people addicted to opioids take buprenorphine, it binds to these opioid receptors and helps stave off withdrawal symptoms while not producing a significant "high." It is an FDA-approved medication used by doctors for office-based treatment of opiate addiction in combination with counseling and behavioral therapy.
In 2008, the US Department of Health and Human Services approved this medication for use in medication-assisted treatment (MAT) due to its ability to help individuals with opioid addictions. The multiple mechanisms of action provide safety when compared with methadone and heroin which can lead to overdose and death respectively.
Probuphine is a medication used to treat opioid addiction. Probuphine is a small, thin implant inserted just under the skin on the inside of the upper arm in a doctor's office. It slowly releases buprenorphine to provide continuous low levels of medication for six months. The implant can be removed at any time if necessary. Probuphine offers several advantages over other forms of buprenorphine because it doesn’t need to be taken daily, injected or swallowed as other forms do.
Methadone, also known as a complete opioid agonist, is used to treat pain and can be given orally or as a liquid. Methadone is more of a substitute drug than any type of medication used for detoxification. It can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and suppress cravings without producing the same euphoric effects as other opiates.
Naloxone is a drug used to reverse an opiate overdose. It is given by injection. Another medication used is naloxone, which is a drug that binds itself to opioid receptors so it cannot be involved in the rewarding effects of using drugs or alcohol when withdrawing from opiates or drinking.
Naltrexone, in the form of Vivitrol, is injected once a month and blocks people from getting high on opiates like heroin or oxycodone (OxyContin). Naltrexone has to be taken every day for someone who wants to quit using opiates.
Disulfiram is a medication used in medication-assisted treatment for alcohol abuse. It's given daily to prevent the body from processing alcohol. If someone taking disulfiram drinks an alcoholic beverage, they become very sick and feel awful effects of ingestion.
Acamprosate is a medication used in medication-assisted treatment for alcohol abuse. It works by helping to restore the balance of chemicals that are important for sending messages through the brain.
Valproate is a medication used in medication-assisted treatment for alcohol, cocaine, and opioid abuse. Valproate can also be used to treat seizures, migraines, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, or obsessive-compulsive disorders.
These are just some examples of medication-assisted treatment for substance abuse programs that you can seek out if interested. There are different forms of medications used depending on what drug is being abused/withdrawn from, so it's important to find the correct treatment plan that works best for you.
What are the Long-Term Side Effects of Substance Use?
The long-term side effects of substance use can be devastating to the body, including the brain. The long-term use of opioids can cause liver disease, heart disease, respiratory infections and increased risk of overdose. The long-term use of benzodiazepines can also lead to organ disease or failure.
Medication-assisted treatment for substance abuse programs in New Jersey is one way the state is working to fight the heroin epidemic. In New Jersey, 2,583 people die from opioid overdose in one year. Opioids are a factor in 89.1% of all overdose deaths. 29.5 out of every 100,000 residents die from an opioid overdose.
New Jersey provides both methadone and suboxone for medication assisted treatment for opioid addiction, which helps patients taper off their dosage over time by using less harmful medications. Once they reach a certain dosage threshold, counselors determine if an individual has been successful at tapering down from higher dosages to lower dosages enough times that they can be released from MAT program’s oversight into another form.
Chronic Relapse and MAT Treatment
Chronic relapse can be defined as regular, but unsuccessful attempts to stop using a specific drug. In this case, chronic relapse can be defined as regular heroin use and/or other opioids even if the individual believes they have been successful at not using for “X” number of months or years.
Research suggests that cognitive processing therapy (CPT) has been useful in treating opioid addiction by examining the thoughts and feelings surrounding relapse and addicts’ ability to resist cravings as well as coping skills such as anger management.
Non-opioid medication-assisted treatment (buprenorphine; Suboxone; naloxone; Vivitrol), on the other hand, is one way to reduce overdose deaths and decrease illicit opioid use without having patients cease opioids overall.
Gain Support at Achieve Wellness and Recovery
Crawling from the depths of substance use can feel like a mountain to climb. Your body, mind, and relationships may have taken a hit but support is available through medication-assisted treatment for substance abuse. Withdrawal symptoms can be taxing, forcing you to reconsider seeking treatment.
Your past does not have to define your potential for growth. Think about the growth you’ll witness with the guidance of an addiction recovery plan. Achieve Wellness and Recovery are determined to provide you with the tools to navigate these obstacles. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, contact our facility today.