What is the role of medication in recovery?
The process of rehabilitation can be challenging, but it is essential for healing. One of the crucial steps is to find the proper treatment that will help us achieve successful recovery. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) emerges as a transformative approach in addiction treatment, offering a comprehensive strategy to aid individuals on their journey to recovery through medication.
So, what is the role of medication in recovery? MAT utilizes FDA-approved medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and block the effects of opioids and alcohol in the brain. In this blog by MAT Care Clinics, we aim to explain how individuals can achieve recovery through medication and the benefits of MAT in treating substance dependence. Let’s delve into it.
How MAT Works
MAT integrates medications with counseling and therapy to treat substance use disorders effectively. Unlike traditional methods, which often focus solely on treatment or detoxification, MAT supports recovery and addresses addiction by utilizing medications to alleviate cravings, normalize brain chemistry, and prevent relapse.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the medications used in MAT work by binding to the same opioid receptors in the brain as the opioids do, but more gently, so they help manage symptoms of withdrawal and cravings without causing the euphoria that the drugs do.
MAT’s integration of counseling and behavioral therapy provides a comprehensive approach to recovery that goes beyond addressing just the physical aspects of addiction. Patients receive individualized treatment plans that equip them with the tools to manage stress, develop healthier relationships, and navigate triggers that could potentially lead to relapse.
Types of Medication Used in MAT
Medication-assisted treatment employs several types of medications approved by the FDA to address substance use disorders effectively. These medications fall into three primary categories: opioid agonists, partial agonists, and antagonists, including:
Methadone – It activates opioid receptors in the brain, producing similar effects to other opioids but with a longer duration of action. As a full agonist, methadone binds strongly to these receptors, providing relief from withdrawal symptoms and cravings without producing the intense euphoria associated with drugs like heroin.
Buprenorphine – It is a partial opioid agonist that alleviates withdrawal symptoms and cravings by binding to opioid receptors in the brain. Buprenorphine has a ceiling effect, reducing the risk of respiratory depression and overdose, and has antagonist properties, displacing other opioids from receptors. This medication makes it effective in treating opioid dependence while minimizing the risk of misuse and diversion.
Naltrexone – Unlike agonists or partial agonists, naltrexone does not produce any opioid-like effects or alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Instead, it helps to reduce cravings for opioids and discourage opioid use by blocking the rewarding effects of these drugs.
Sublocade – It contains the active buprenorphine and is generally administered as a once-monthly injection, providing a sustained release of buprenorphine over time. This method helps people maintain stable levels of the medication in their system, reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Suboxone – Consists of two active elements, buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine acts as a partial opioid agonist by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, thus alleviating withdrawal symptoms and cravings. On the other hand, naloxone acts as an opioid antagonist and discourages abuse by blocking the opioid effects when individuals take suboxone sublingually.
Supporting Recovery Through Medication
MAT significantly enhances treatment outcomes, promoting sustained recovery. Research demonstrates that individuals undergoing MAT are more likely to remain in treatment, reduce illicit drug use, and lower their risk of overdose and infectious diseases, according to the CDC.
The additional benefits for those contemplating supporting recovery through medication also include the following:
1. Management of Co-Occurring Disorders: A study by Cambridge University Press suggests that MAT can effectively address concurrent mental health conditions alongside substance use disorders, as certain medications have demonstrated positive effects on mood and anxiety symptoms.
2. Expanded Treatment Accessibility: Medication-assisted treatment broadens access to care by offering effective pharmacological interventions that can be delivered across various healthcare settings, making treatment more accessible to those in need.
3. Tailored Treatment Approaches: MAT allows for personalized treatment plans that consider individual needs, preferences, and medical histories. Healthcare providers can adjust medication regimens based on ongoing assessment and patient response.
4. Restoration of Brain Chemistry Balance: Through the action on receptors affected by drugs of abuse, MAT medications aid in stabilizing brain chemistry, reducing compulsive drug-seeking behaviors, and restoring normal neurological functioning.
5. Viable Option for Treatment Resistance: For those who have faced challenges with traditional approaches for dependence treatment without achieving satisfactory results, MAT offers a structured and evidence-based intervention that may lead to more successful outcomes and long-term rehab.
Contact MAT Care Clinics and Take a Step Toward Recovery
The path to rehabilitation is not a one-size-fits-all model. While there are many traditional, holistic, and scientifically proven tools available, individuals can also achieve long-term recovery through medication-assisted treatment. Medication, when used under proper guidance, can provide the necessary support to help individuals regain control over their lives and start a new chapter.
Refrain from misconceptions holding you back from exploring all possible avenues toward healing. Visit MAT Care Clinics at our Nashua, NH location, call us at (833) 622-0628, or explore our website to gain a better understanding of how MAT can help you!
Remember, every step counts, and reaching out for help is one of the most important ones.