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The American Psychiatric Association explains substance use disorder (SUD), colloquially referred to as addiction, as a complex, neuropsychiatric “condition in which there is uncontrolled use of substance despite harmful consequence” and it is listed as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). There are a variety of treatment methods used to help an individual recover from substance use disorder. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT), for example, involves the use of medications, with the use of psychosocial therapies and supports as needed, to provide a whole-person approach to the treatment of addiction. 

MAT: Common Medications Used

Experts assert that medications, or pharmacological agents, used in the treatment of addictive disorders have “three broad objectives: management of acute withdrawal syndromes through detoxification, attenuation of cravings and urges to use illicit drugs (initial recovery), and prevention of relapse to compulsive drug use.” There are several different types of FDA-approved medications that are frequently used in MAT. The three most relied upon medications include Suboxone, Vivitrol, and Methadone. There are benefits and drawbacks to each type of medication used in MAT:

  • Suboxone is a medication that is made up of buprenorphine and naloxone. It is most used to assist in treating opioid withdrawal. As a partial agonist, buprenorphine only allows this medication to partially bind to one’s opioid receptors. Naloxone works by counteracting the effects of opioids on one’s brain. Therefore, an individual who attempts to abuse opioids, while taking Suboxone will experience adverse effects due to the naloxone. 
  • Vivitrol is a medication that must be administered by a medical professional, as it comes in the form of an injection. It is an antagonist medication that provides relief for opioid cravings, minimizes withdrawal symptoms, and prevents overdose. In most cases, any individual that uses Vivitrol as part of their MAT must abstain from any opiate use for a minimum of fourteen days, prior to the first dose. 
  • Methadone is probably the most known medication used for the treatment of opioid addiction. It is a full agonist, meaning it fully binds to the opioid receptors in one’s brain and nervous system. This results in a complete block of the euphoric high that occurs from opioid drug use, as well as easing the discomforts of withdrawal symptoms. It is highly regulated, as it can be dangerous if abused.

One of the benefits to medication-assisted treatment is minimizing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that occur when an individual stops using drugs and/ or alcohol. Common withdrawal symptoms that are eased through MAT include the following: chills, cramps, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, depression, diarrhea, joint pain, vomiting, and excessive sweating. The duration an individual may remain on medication, the dose, as well as they type of medication selected will vary. Depending on one’s needs, MAT may require an ongoing medication regimen for sustained recovery. 

For Information and Support 

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.