What is Addiction?

Addiction is a long-term brain disease in which a person keeps looking for and using drugs or keeps doing something, like gambling even though it can hurt them. Addiction can change the way the brain works, which makes it a disease of the brain that can hurt someone’s health and change how they think and feel. This could go on for a long time, lead to other bad things, and make it hard to get along with family and friends. Without treatment and recovery, addiction may continue to get worse.

Addiction is a problem all over the world that affects many people, their families, and their communities. Addiction is a chronic disease, like diabetes or heart disease, which means there is no cure. But this disease can be controlled and people who have it can and do get better.

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications along with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders in a way that takes into account the “whole patient.” The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the medicines used in MAT, and each patient’s needs are taken into account when designing MAT programs.

Research has shown that a combination of medication and therapy is an effective way to treat these disorders. For some people with addiction, MAT can also help them stay sober. MAT is also used to stop or lessen the effects of an opioid overdose.

Medications Used to Treat Opioid Addiction

Most treatment plans will include medicine. The type of medication chosen depends on several things, such as the situation of the patient and where the treatment is taking place. Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are the drugs most often used to treat opioid addiction. With each of these medicines, it’s typically recommended to work with a counselor as well.

Each drug works differently and has its benefits and risks. It also needs to be started specially, but once it is, it can be taken safely for years. The doctor or nurse should talk with the patient about the risks and benefits of each drug. When these drugs are taken as prescribed, they do not cause new addictions, and instead, they help people deal with their addictions so they can get better.

Every patient is different, and the right medication is found when the person feels normal, has few or no side effects, doesn’t feel withdrawal, and has control over their cravings. Below is more information on each of the commonly used drugs for opioid addiction.

Methadone for Opioid Addiction

Methadone works in the brain like an opioid to make people less likely to want to use the problem drug. When a person takes methadone, they don’t feel high and they don’t go through withdrawal. 

Methadone can also cut down on cravings. It can be taken safely at the start of withdrawal and comes in pill, liquid, and wafer forms. It is taken once a day, but the dose may change over time, and people who are doing well in their recovery may be given medicine to take at home.

Buprenorphine for Opioid Addiction

Buprenorphine also works as an opioid in the brain to reduce the desire to use the problem drug. This helps the patient avoid withdrawal symptoms and reduces the cravings for opioids. Buprenorphine is available in both tablet and film form, and may often be mixed with naloxone to stop it from being abused. If it is abused by injection, snorting, or other means, it can cause unwanted withdrawal symptoms. Before taking the first dose of buprenorphine, a person should be going through mild to moderate withdrawal from opioids.

This drug is taken only once a day and the amount taken each day can be changed over time by your doctor. 

Naltrexone for Opioid Addiction

Naltrexone works by stopping opioids from affecting the brain. This means that opioids can’t be used to get high. This makes naltrexone a good choice for keeping people from going back to drugs, but it might not stop all drug cravings.

When taking naltrexone for the first time, a person can’t have any opioids in their body. If someone does this, they will feel terrible when they stop. Before a doctor gives naltrexone to a patient, the patient must go through withdrawal while being watched by a doctor, which could last between 7 and 10 days.

Naltrexone is a pill that is taken regularly. It is also available in a longer-acting version that is injected into the buttocks, which is given once a month in the doctor’s or nurse’s office.

Using Drugs to Treat Opioid Addiction

If these medicines are used right and the treatment plan is followed, they can be taken safely for years. Any plans to stop taking a medication, change the dose, or switch to a different medication should always be talked over with the clinician. If the first medication chosen doesn’t work well, the patient and clinician can discuss a change, which should be a decision that both the patient and the clinician agree on after going over all the benefits and risks. 

Based on the treatment plan that was agreed upon, the patient will continue to see the clinician and take part in counseling and support groups. As part of this long-term disease, relapses may happen. If a patient relapses while taking medication, the clinician will change the treatment plan and treatment goals as needed.

Contact us today to set up your first appointment. Follow us on Facebook for informative updates