Medication Assisted Treatment

Many people are against medication assisted treatment options and with good reason. It’s hard to support something that you don’t know anything about. However, if you ever see a loved one pass away from a drug overdose knowing that there was a treatment option never explored, then it changes everything. Some people take the view that medication assisted treatment is substituting one drug for another and it’s harmful, both of which are false statements. Medication assisted treatment is an effective way to help people release the hold that heroin and opiates have on their life. Fear and ignorance within the recovery community may be to blame for more people not using this form of treatment.

The harrowing drug epidemic has caused substance abuse treatment providers to reevaluate the need for such programs. While abstinence-only models worked in times past, the overdose crisis is the deadliest in this country’s history, and desperate times call for new and drastic measures. It’s not a failure of willpower; it’s helping to break the ties that bind with such a powerful addiction. The 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous is a great program, but it’s not going to reach all of those that are struggling with substance abuse issues. Medication-assisted treatment may be the answer that so many need.

Medication Assisted Treatment Works

Those who have a dependency on opioids are often afraid to experience any of the withdrawal symptoms. These thoughts and feelings push them to continue their drug-seeking behaviors to ensure they never feel withdrawal. As with many drugs, after extended use, the body becomes accustomed to the drug and needs more to satisfy the craving.

If the person doesn’t get more of the drugs, then they will have body aches as well as other side effects. Putting the drug into their body is no longer giving them the euphoric feelings they once felt. Instead, it’s just staving off the extensive symptoms from not having the substance. Thankfully, some medications can help stop this difficult cycle.

Part of the issue in many people’s mind is that methadone and buprenorphine are opioids too, which is the reason why they can soothe the cravings for the drugs. However, they will not give the high that taking heroin or other opioids do, and they can significantly reduce the risk of a relapse. It provides someone with a substance abuse issue peace of mind through knowing they don’t have to worry about the horrible withdrawal symptoms. While it can be taken for life, the goal is to gradually reduce the dose so that the body becomes accustomed to being without the medication. However, the situation dictates the method used and the time frame.

There are plenty of studies that back up medication assisted treatment. Not only will it cut the mortality rate by more than half, but it’s also a medication used to treat a disease just like diabetes. There is data that proves how useful it is to add a prescription to stop the cravings for dangerous drugs. Due to the overwhelming success, it has now become the “gold standard” when treating substance abuse that involves opioids.

Choosing The Best Medication For Treatment

We know that 12-step programs are useful and work, but they use spiritual and moral principles to help those suffering from addiction. Many rehabilitation methods are incorporating medication as part of this process, and they see great results.

Choosing the medication that is administered is dictated by the situation. For instance, a person that gets methadone will receive this medication numerous times each day, so it must be given in a clinic type setting. If you are not in an inpatient facility, then you would have to visit a clinic to get your dose, which can be a terrible inconvenience and difficult for many.

Buprenorphine, on the other hand, is entirely the opposite. It’s made to help those who are using an outpatient treatment program. Since it can be taken at home, there is little chance of someone misusing it or returning to previous drug seeking methods on the black market. Both drugs are similarly effective.

Vivitrol is a new medication that is getting a great deal of attention. It’s an extended release option, so the convenience factors come into play. It’s also not an opioid, so the risk of abuse dramatically diminishes. It requires a visit to a doctor or clinic once a month for an injection. Unlike the other two options, this prescription doesn’t prevent the withdrawal symptoms. Instead, it requires that a person detox for ten days before receiving the injection.

Unfortunately, what works for some doesn’t always work for all. Some people have a hard time adjusting to these medications, and some feel like they are still using drugs by taking a pill. It’s often easier to get an addicted individual on buprenorphine because there is a detoxification period required before using naltrexone. Though these are the first-line treatments, there may need to be alternative therapies added if these don’t work, and it’s essential that these medications are tightly controlled and supervised.

Is A Medication Driven Treatment Program Right For You?

The argument over medication-assisted treatment is actually about how addiction is perceived. The significant part of this treatment is it allows people to use an alternative safer substance to aid them as they try to reduce their physical dependence on stronger opioids. A person doesn’t have to steal anymore to get the opioids they feel they need to avoid withdrawal, which puts their life at risk. Their physical cravings are met, yet they can still hold a job, participate in family activities, and have a positive experience.

The myths regarding the dangers of a medically supervised treatment plan remain prevalent — to fatal consequences. When it comes to other diseases like hypertension, high cholesterol, and cancer, medication is considered the hallmark in treatment. If you have a drug problem, then you may need a prescription to stop the opioid use and turn your life around. In this sense, both types of diseases should be perceived in a similar way, in that medication assisted treatment should be completely acceptable.

St John’s Recovery Place is helping people who are interested in medically supervised programs. Whether you want something that requires abstinence or if you find that you would prefer medication assisted treatment, then we can help. Call us today to discuss what options are available for you on your path to recovery. Our trained admissions professionals can assist you anytime at (833) 397-3422.

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