HEALTH

What kinds of medicine are used in medication-assisted programs?

As part of a holistic approach to the treatment of substance use disorders, medications are used together with other methods such as counseling and behavioral therapy. The use of medicine in these programs has to be approved by the food and drug administration. The medicine is also clinically driven and tailored in a way that they can meet each patient’s individual needs by way of varying dosages.

MAT has proven to be clinically effective during patient detoxification.  It also helps to increase the retention rates in treatment centers. Additionally, there is a decrease in illicit opiate use together with the criminal activities associated with opiate users and people with substance use disorders.

Medication-assisted treatment also helps users gain and maintain a good employment status and significantly improve the birth outcomes among pregnant women with substance use disorders.

Having seen the advantages of medication assisted treatment, let’s look at the particular medicines used in the programs:

Alcohol Use Disorder Medications

Disulfiram:

The drug works by causing serious side effects when the patient intakes alcohol such as sweating, nausea, headache, chest pains, and vomiting. The severity of these side effects usually varies with the amount of alcohol that is consumed by the individual. This drug should be avoided until the patient has abstained from alcohol for at least 12 hours. The side effects of this medication assisted treatment usually take 10 to 30 minutes before they fully kick in.  It is effective in helping with heavy drinking.

Acamprosate:

The drug is taken five days after the last drink or during detox together with benzodiazepines which are drugs taken to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms. It usually takes 5 to 8 days to be fully effective. The main benefit of this medication is that it significantly reduces the number of drinking days and the time-space before relapse occurs in recovering patients. It is a safe medication assisted treatment for patients with liver problems or who are also receiving opioid treatment.

Naltrexone:

The primary function of this medication is to help inhibit the euphoria associated with alcohol consumption. Together with the Sinclair method of therapy, positive reinforcements associated with drinking alcohol are significantly reduced. It is good for treating chronic alcohol consumption.

Opioid-Dependent Medications:

Buprenorphine:

This drug works by occupying the brain receptors that the opioid drugs usually target. It is a partial opiate agonist that produces effects that are similar to other opiates while preventing withdrawal symptoms from occurring. There is no high to the usage of the drug nor are there any of the other harmful effects of using opiates in this medication assisted treatment.  It has mildly addictive properties but once a patient is stabilized, the dose is gradually tapered down.

Naltrexone:

This drug is also an opioid antagonist that works to bind with the opiate receptors thus preventing other drugs from binding themselves to it. It does not however produce any of the other effects that opioids have but blocks the high experienced when using opiates. These effects are to help discourage a user from further drug abuse and reduce the risks of relapse.

Methadone :

This is a common medication in opioid addiction treatment and it helps to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal while also inhibiting the euphoria that comes with the opioids.  The medication comes in pill, liquid, and pill forms and is prescribed for use once a day under the supervision of trained medical personnel. You will also need to be in treatment for at least 12 months consistently.

Conclusion:

Medication assisted treatment is an effective way of helping with drug addiction.  Research has made clear that combining the use of medication with therapy is an effective method of treating such disorders, sustaining recovery, and reducing opioid overdose. As you seek recovery, you can therefore look into combining these methods under the supervision of a qualified center and opiate specialist.

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