Using medication to get off of drugs may sound like a strange concept, but using a combination of medication and therapy can be an incredibly helpful way to begin a sober lifestyle. One of the reasons that many people who struggle with addiction are afraid to enter treatment is due to the fear of intense withdrawal symptoms. A medically assisted treatment (MAT) facility can help to ease the symptoms of withdrawal, helping patients to focus on the skills and behavioral changes they need in order to embrace sobriety. Studies have shown that patients who go through medication assisted treatment have a much lower rate of relapse than patients who do not use medication.
Pros And Cons Of MAT
As with any type of medical treatment, there are pros and cons to using medication assisted treatment to begin the process of recovery from addiction. For many people who enter treatment, the lack of drugs in the body causes a severe dip in the brain’s feel-good chemicals, including dopamine. Medication assisted treatment can help to regulate the withdrawal process, keeping the low feelings associated with a drop in dopamine from becoming too severe. It’s important to consider precipitated withdrawal when choosing medication assisted therapy. In some people, withdrawal occurs when an opioid replacement enters the body. Working with a qualified treatment team can vastly lower the risk of precipitated withdrawal.
While many drugs designed to help with getting sober work to ease withdrawal, others, such as Antabuse, work to stop the effects of the substance. Let’s take a look at some of the most commonly used drugs used in medication assisted treatment.
Bupreophine and Suboxone (a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone) are drugs that can help people who are addicted to opioids. Buprenorphine is a weak opioid that can produce similar effects to stronger opioids, such as euphoria and a slowed rate of respiration. For someone who is addicted to opioids, buprenorphine can be a step down from their drug of choice, allowing them to slowly and safely enter recovery. Wondering, “How long does Suboxone stay in your system?” For the average person, it takes about eight days for Suboxone to leave the body. Several factors, including the length of time spent abusing Suboxone, body fat levels, age, and metabolism levels, can affect how quickly Suboxone leaves the body.
Suboxone can be especially effective for people who are at high risk for relapse. The naloxone in Suboxone remains dormant in the user’s system unless they attempt to misuse Suboxone by administering it via injection. Naloxone is the active ingredient in the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan, and can cause extremely unpleasant symptoms in a user who attempts to misuse Suboxone.
A popular drug for people who are working to recover from opioid addiction, methadone must be given in a highly structured setting. This drug acts on the same receptors in the brain as heroin and morphine and can help to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms from opioids. While it’s possible to get high on methadone, users who do so are significantly at risk for overdose.
Methadone is administered in a doctor’s office or methadone clinic. The drug stays active in the body for 24 hours or longer. If a patient proves that they’re making significant progress toward recovery, their treatment team may approve for them to take methadone at home, rather than in a clinic setting. Most people take methadone once a day, for up to a year.
Vivitrol is a drug given once a month by injection. Also known as naltrexone, Vivitrol works by blocking opioid receptors in the brain. This means that the feel-good effects of alcohol and opioids are eliminated. For many people who struggle with addiction, knowing that they are physically unable to get drunk and/ or high provides them with the ability to fully focus on their recovery. Since Vivitrol blocks opioid receptors instead of releasing dopamine (like methadone and buprenorphine), patients can take this drug without the risk of becoming addicted. In order to be successful on Vivitrol, patients must show up for their monthly injections and focus heavily on making behavioral changes with the help of a therapist.
In order to be eligible for the Vivitrol shot, patients must be free of opioids for at least one to two weeks. For many patients, going through a medically supervised detox is a necessary first step before considering Vivitrol.
Also known as disulfiram, Antabuse was the first drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Drinking alcohol after taking Antabuse causes extremely unpleasant reactions, including vomiting, sweating, headaches, thirst, heart palpitations, and more. Normally, the body metabolizes alcohol and changes it into acetaldehyde, which is responsible for many of the symptoms of a hangover. When a person takes Antabuse, the body very quickly builds up acetaldehyde. The amount of acetaldehyde in the body when a person drinks while taking Antabuse is five to ten times greater than the amount of acetaldehyde in the body of someone who drinks and does not take Antabuse. Symptoms begin within ten minutes of drinking alcohol and last until there is no alcohol left in the body.
While Antabuse is extremely effective when taken as directed, it can be hard to get patients to comply with taking the drug daily. In order for Antabuse to work, the patient must be committed to getting sober, and be willing to take Antabuse on a daily basis. This medication is ideal for patients who are highly motivated to their recovery and are committed to doing the work necessary to live a sober life.
Take The Next Step
If you’re ready to get clean and sober, Dignity Healing is here to help. We recognize and respect how hard it is to reach out and start the road to recovery, and we’re glad you’re considering working with us. We’ll be with you every step of the way, from your first phone call to the day you walk out of our doors to embark on your sober life. You don’t need to spend another day trapped by your addiction. Reach out to us now to start getting the help you need to live the life you deserve.
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