What is Medication Assisted Treatment or MAT?
Medication assisted treatment is treatment for addiction that includes the use of medication along with counseling and other support. Treatment that includes medication is often the best choice for opioid addiction. Medication assisted treatment is evidence based best practice. The most common medications used in treatment of opioid addiction are Methadone, Buprenorphine (Suboxone) and Naltrexone (Vivitrol).
Can I become addicted to these medications?
Since methadone is a controlled substance, there is a possibility for abuse and an addiction to form. When participating in a medication assisted treatment program, you will be monitored by qualified professionals who will ensure that you are taking the medication as prescribed to prevent abuse from occurring.
Suboxone is also an opioid, and all opioids have the potential to cause physical dependence or addiction. Unlike opioid prescription painkillers and heroin, which are "full opioid agonists," Buprenorphine (Suboxone) is a "partial opioid agonist." That means that the Buprenorphine (Suboxone) attaches to the same receptors in the brain that the other opioids attach to, but it produces less euphoria than a full opioid agonist.
Naltrexone (Vivitrol) is an antagonist or blocking medication. Antagonists attach to opioid receptors, but do not cause the release of dopamine. They are non-addictive and do not lead to physical dependence. Antagonists create a barrier that blocks opioid molecules from attaching to opioid receptors. Naltrexone (Vivitrol) blocks opioid receptors in the brain for one month at a time, helping patients to prevent relapse to opioid dependence, following detox, while they focus on counseling. Patients must detox before starting Naltrexone (Vivitrol).
How long will I need to be on methadone, Buprenorphine (Suboxone) or Naltrexone (Vivitrol)?
The length of treatment can vary from patient to patient. The decision to discontinue therapy with these medications after a period of maintenance should be made as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. It is up to you, your doctor, and your therapist or counselor to decide on the appropriate length of treatment.
Does methadone, Buprenorphine (Suboxone) or Naltrexone (Vivitrol) interact with other drugs or medications?
If you are taking any other prescription medications for physical or psychological reasons, make your physician aware prior to starting these medications. It is possible for these medications to negatively interact with other medications; therefore, it is important to discuss the use of other medications to avoid any adverse interactions.
What if I no longer wish to take methadone? Can I stop or switch to a different medication?
Every individual who takes methadone is going to take it for a different length of time. If during your treatment, you wish to no longer take methadone or want to switch to a different medication, your treatment provider can assist you in tapering off methadone or prescribe another medication that can meet your needs. This process is necessary to prevent patients from experiencing adverse effects or withdrawal during this process. To learn more about ceasing the use of methadone or changing prescriptions, it is important to have a conversation with the doctor.
Are groups mandatory?
Spectrum groups are required for all patients, even those working (though some make 12 step groups, outside clinic) Evidence based means that they are proven to work. Just as for another illness, a person would have a behavioral piece to treatment, in addition to medication, (methadone), groups are behavior treatment for addiction.
When do I get take home bottles?
At Spectrum, safety is the top priority. And it is important for a client to be ready, to safely have take home bottle privileges. After 3 months of negative drug screens (for illicit substances) and compliance with other requirements of program, a client becomes eligible for take homes. Keep in mind that this is dependent upon client meeting other program requirements (regular program and group attendance, keeping appointments).
I hear that methadone causes teeth to fall out, bones to weaken
This is a myth about methadone. The lifestyle that is involved in substance abuse is the true cause of some of these negative effects. While using illicit opioids, a person is not taking care of their physical state (visiting the doctor, getting proper nutrition). Often, as a person is successfully stabilized, they will attribute these negative effects to methadone.
My friend tried to get off methadone and said it's impossible
Clients can encounter challenges when they try to come off any medication quickly, including methadone. The saying "slow and steady" has served many clients well when and if the time comes to come off methadone. Clients are encouraged to get fully stable first and have success in treatment. When any process is rushed, it has less chance to be successful. Give it time it deserves.
What is Detoxification?
Detoxification allows your body to go through withdrawal from opiates over a period of time instead of abruptly. SHC offers detoxification programs with the use of Methadone or Buprenorphine (Suboxone).
What is Maintenance?
Maintenance is a comprehensive treatment program that involves the long-term prescribing of Methadone or Buprenorphine (Suboxone) as an alternative to the opioid on which the client was dependent.