What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Medication-assisted treatment refers to using prescribed medications monitored by a psychiatrist in conjunction with therapy and counseling to recover from substance use disorders. Most frequently, it is used in the treatment of individuals with opioid use disorders.
Medication-assisted treatment is not about substituting one drug for another. Instead, it is about using medications similar to opioids to alleviate both symptoms of withdrawal as well as mental cravings. Research has shown that medication-assisted treatment can increase patient survival, patients staying in treatment programs, as well as patients’ ability to obtain and maintain employment.
Below are three common medications used in medication-assisted treatment in individuals with opioid use disorder. All of these medications, as with any medication, can have side effects or be better or worse for an individual based on their unique situation. It is always important to engage in medication-assisted treatment with a licensed medical provider and a team of professionals to help you with your recovery.
Buprenorphine is a medication that suppresses cravings for opioids as well as decreases the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. This medication is often in pill form or taken sublingually (under the tongue).
Methadone is another medication that also works to suppress cravings as well as withdrawal symptoms. It is available in a variety of forms.
Naltrexone works in a different way compared to buprenorphine or methadone. Naltrexone blocks the brain’s opioid receptors, preventing an individual of feeling the effects of an opiate or opioid medication they should take any after administering Naltrexone. It is available in a pill form as well as in an monthly injectable form called Vivitrol.
More recently, another kind of medication has entered the market, known as Vivitrol. Vivitrol is a once-a-month injection of naltrexone that slowly disperses the drug through the patient’s system over time. Unlike those who take more traditional naltrexone in pill form, this medication is not administered daily. Once a person makes the choice to have their monthly injection, they do not need to recommit to their sobriety every day, which can be difficult for many in early recovery.
Medication-Assisted Treatment in Virginia
It is important to remember that no matter what one’s journey toward recovery looks like, it is supported and guided by a team of professionals. At Encore Outpatient Services in Arlington, we integrate a holistic approach to substance use disorder treatment, whether or not that includes medication-assisted treatment, to provide our clients with the best care possible.