What Makes Medication Assisted Treatment a More Successful Option for Addiction Treatment
Medication-assisted treatment or “MAT” offers more long-term success and benefits to patients. It’s especially helpful to those who are not having success in tradition treatment model. When heroin addiction takes a hold onto someone’s life and soul, sometimes it’s not as easy as saying “don’t do it anymore” or “stop”. If you have experienced heroin addiction, then you know it’s just not that easy. For decades the solution to drug addiction and alcoholism has always been what people now know and consider to be “traditional treatment”. When someone says “rehab” traditional treatment is commonly what comes to mind.
Traditional Treatment for Heroin Addiction
Traditional treatment is typically thought to encompass a thirty-day stay at a rehabilitation facility. Throughout this thirty-day period, a client is expected to go through rigorous therapies These therapies include facets like anger management, health, cognitive behavioral therapy, family counseling as well as group and individual therapy. The one constant, repeated thought and idea throughout the stay is abstinence.
Abstaining from all mood and mind-altering substances has always been the cornerstone of the recovery process. After this, the patient is thus relieved from their addiction and sent home to restart their lives. After just thirty-days the addict, whose life was in such shambles. “Shambles” can be described as homelessness and loss of human contact or losing a job, house, car, or relationships.This person is thought to be ready to go home. After a month of therapy and being told to “not drink or drug”. There’s so much more that is needed though in order to stay clean and live a productive life. The odds of a person regaining complete control of their lives after 30 days is slim. With the opioid epidemic still a growing crisis in our country there should be multiple options and treatment plans for heroin rehab.
Relapse is defined as the resumption of heroin use after a period of abstinence. It frequently occurs in connection with strong cravings or as a response to a stressor. Stressors are normally identified during ones stay in treatment and include monetary stress, relationships, dealing with past criminal consequences. These include a myriad of other consequences and fears that must be faced once one gets sober. Some people beat themselves up harder than others because of past mistakes. One study examined heroin relapse rates among participants who were discharged after successfully completing an opiate detox program. Of them, 91% reported a relapse, 59% of which occurred within 1 week of discharge. Earlier relapse was associated with younger age, heavy use before treatment, a history of injecting, and not following up with aftercare. Some people consider relapse a part of the recovery process but with synthetic opioids being mixed into the heroin such as carfentanil and fentanyl, relapse can be deadly.
There are long-term treatment stents that can last up to a year, some even two years. Other less drastic stents can be thirty to ninety days. Still, the core principle stays the same- don’t drink and you won’t get drunk. “Abstinence”. It isn’t working, 9% success rate is not a success.
Medication Assisted Treatment a More Successful Option for Addiction Treatment
This is where a medication-assisted treatment program comes in. MAT protocols help a great deal with getting through the initial intense withdrawal. Symptoms such as anxiety, chills, diarrhea, insomnia, muscle spasms and nausea are largely reduced or eliminated. After getting over the first hurdle of detox then treatment, the body is still changing. Post-acute withdrawal or “PAWS” is a commonly neglected side effect of opiate addiction. PAWS can last month’s sometimes even years. Medication is made to treat this. Post-acute symptoms include signs of hostility or aggression, anxiety, panic, fear, irritability, mood swings, depression, exhaustion or inability to sleep. Buprenorphine maintenance or a long-term buprenorphine taper greatly reduces the intensity of these symptoms. Along with managing withdrawal symptoms – relapse and cravings are managed. Naloxone is mixed with buprenorphine to block opiates. Meaning if a person were to try to use while on the medication the opiate would have no effect. The likelihood of using while on this medication also drops dramatically. In a similar way to methadone, the thought is that Suboxone will limit withdrawal symptoms and decrease the frequency and intensity of cravings in the person addicted to opiates, making it a safer alternative. Its levels can be monitored and reduced until the person is no longer addicted.
Heroin effects dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain. For the brain, the difference between normal rewards and drug rewards can be described as the difference between someone whispering in your ear and someone shouting into a microphone. Just as we turn down the volume on a radio that is too loud, the brain adjusts to the overwhelming surges in dopamine (and other neurotransmitters) by producing less dopamine or by reducing the number of receptors that can receive signals. As a result, dopamine’s impact on the reward circuit of the brain of someone who abuses drugs can become abnormally low, and that person’s ability to experience any pleasure is reduced. This is why a person who abuses drugs eventually feels flat, lifeless, and depressed, and is unable to enjoy things that were previously pleasurable. Medication-assisted treatment helps the addict stay sober long enough for the brain recover to normal function.
Common Medication Used in Heroin Rehab
Approved for clinical use in October 2002 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), buprenorphine represents the latest advance in medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Medications such as buprenorphine in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of opioid dependency. When taken as prescribed, buprenorphine is safe and effective. The ideal candidates for opioid dependency treatment with buprenorphine: Have been objectively diagnosed with an opioid dependency – Are willing to follow safety precautions for the treatment -Have been cleared of any health conflicts with using buprenorphine – Have reviewed other treatment options before agreeing to buprenorphine. The common medications in MAT programs that have buprenorphine as the main component are Suboxone and Subutex.
Between longer lasting sobriety through the use of medications and the ability to engage in meaningful therapy patients are finding a system that works for them, not against them. Clients, especially those that suffer from chronic relapse have seen an undeniable spike in success rates. Some studies show success rates as high as 75% compared to patients on a placebo. For these reasons and much more medication-assisted treatment can be a much more successful option for those looking for treatment.
For more information on Stepping Sober’s Heroin Rehab treatment options call us: (800) 518-5205.