General

In 2019, more than 75,000 Americans died of drug overdoses. This is an alarming statistic that reveals the magnitude of our national opioid addiction crisis.

Overdoses and death can be prevented by seeking help for addiction. Although there are many options for treatment, Medication Assisted Therapy is the best. If you have a history of opioid addiction, this could be a key part of your treatment.

Medication Assisted Treatment is a method that uses FDA-approved medications to decrease withdrawal and cravings or block the effects of opioids. These medications must only be prescribed and administered to patients by a qualified healthcare professional. Traditional therapy is often combined with MAT to address the root cause of substance abuse.

Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Work?

Evidence has shown that medication-assisted treatment is effective. Study after study has shown that MAT combined with counseling or behavioral therapy produces more results than other forms of addiction treatment. Risky behavior such as using dirty needles for injecting drugs is also reduced by MAT. This has contributed to a reduction in HIV/Hepatitis C infections.

The most benefit of MAT is for those suffering from substance abuse that involves prescription opioids like codeine, morphine, oxycodone, or codeine as well as non-prescription opioids such as heroin. It can also help with alcohol dependence.

Types Of MAT Medicine

Three FDA-approved drugs treat MAT: buprenorphine (methadone), buprenorphine (naltrexone), and buprenorphine (buprenorphine).

Methadone

Methadone can either be administered in an inpatient or outpatient program daily opioid treatment program. Methadone is available in a tablet, wafer, and liquid forms. It is a full-agonist drug. This means that it stimulates the same brain receptors as opioids. Methadone acts by tricking the brain into believing it has been given an opioid dose. This makes it easier for the patient to remain sober.

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine can also be prescribed to patients for home use by a licensed clinician. Buprenorphine can be used as a partial agonist drug. It works the same way as an agonist but has weaker brain effects. You can take it as a tablet daily or as an injectable or implant. It reduces withdrawal symptoms as well as your desire to use drugs.

Naltrexone

Naltrexone is an antagonist. It blocks the brain’s opioid effects. Even if someone had a relapse while on naltrexone they wouldn’t feel the effects of opioids. Naltrexone can be taken as either a daily or monthly pill. Any doctor or clinician can prescribe it.

How Long Does The MAT Last?

The type of medication and individual patient’s needs will determine the duration of MAT. The National Institute on Drug Abuse may recommend that methadone-treated patients undergo therapy for at most one year. After 90 days of methadone treatment, the patient’s dose should be slowly reduced until they are on a maintenance amount. The patient may eventually be able to lower the dose until it is no longer necessary.

Buprenorphine treatment may take several years or a few months. The dose can be decreased to a maintenance setting after the patient has been sober. The patient may taper off the dosage over a period between four and six months until the therapy ends.

To eliminate the use of opioids, the standard treatment time for naltrexone takes about 12 weeks. The doctor must be consulted by patients to decide when they should stop taking naltrexone. Patients should be cautious about using naltrexone as it acts as an antagonist and avoids opioids while on treatment. Overdosing with naltrexone is possible because the opioids’ effects are not felt.

What Does Insurance Cover For MAT?

The insurance company and the state where the patient lives may determine whether or not they cover MAT. Federal law requires that insurance companies offer coverage to provide mental health services and substance abuse programs.

There are many insurance providers and employers that offer different levels of coverage. Individual patients may have different requirements. Some insurance policies may not cover all three FDA-approved opioid addiction treatment options. Other plans that provide coverage may require detailed authorization from the patient or the doctor before medication can be administered.

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