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How Do Medication-Assisted Opioid Treatments Work?

Substance use disorders are a common cause of morbidity in the United States. The nationwide opioid crisis is now classified as an epidemic. The National Survey On Drug Use and Health showed that an estimated 10.1 million people aged 12 and above misused opioids in 2018. Additionally, two out of three drug overdose deaths that year involved an opioid.

While the situation seems dire, you may find respite in medication-assisted opioid treatment. Medication-assisted treatments use a combination of medications, counseling, and behavioral therapies to provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of substance abuse disorders. Statistics from the HHS show that over 1.27 million Americans are now receiving MAT treatment from approved programs.

Medications Available For Your Medication-Assisted Opioid Treatment

The Food and Drugs Administration has provided approval for three main drugs in opioid dependence treatment. These drugs reduce withdrawal symptoms and physical cravings that cause chemical changes within the body. These are:

  • Methadone
  • Buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone

There are a variety of FDA-approved products under these three classes that you can access through a drug addiction clinic. All these treatments have been demonstrated to be safe and effective when combined with counseling and psychological support. A drug addiction clinic Tucson trusts will provide you access to the three options, allowing the providers to pick the best treatment best suited to an individual's unique needs.

Methadone is widely regarded as the standard treatment plan for opioid dependence, especially for heroin addiction. A dose of 5mg of parenteral heroin is approximately equivalent to 20 mg of oral methadone. Approved in 1971, the clinic-based opioid agonist prevents cravings and withdrawal systems without the euphoria associated with the opiate. It is dispensed in liquid form through an approved methadone clinic.

Buprenorphine is an office-based opioid agonist or antagonist (meaning it's dispensed mainly through outpatient treatment programs). It blocks other narcotics from the body’s receptors, all while reducing the withdrawal risk. A heroin treatment clinic in Tucson can provide it as a daily dissolving tablet, cheek film, or a six-month implant under the skin. Naltrexone is an office-based opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of other narcotics. You can receive it as a daily pill or monthly injection.

Medication-Assisted Opioid Treatment Efficacy

MAT for opioid abuse continues to prove to be clinically effective while significantly reducing the need for inpatient detoxification services. Medication-assisted opioid treatment programs provide a more comprehensive, individualized plan that addresses the specific needs of each patient. The approach has shown to:

  1. Increase patient retention during treatment
  2. Improve patient survival
  3. Reduce illicit opioid use
  4. Increased birth outcomes to pregnant women with substance use disorders
  5. Reduce risk of contracting diseases such HIV and hepatitis
  6. Improve mental health, quality of life, employability, and family relationships

Counseling and Behavioral Therapies

Federal law points out that individuals under medication-assisted opioid treatment have to attend counseling and behavioral therapies, in addition to receiving pharmacologic treatments. The programs should be under a trained provider in an approved treatment center. This therapy helps to engage the individuals in treatment, change behaviors and treat the mental disorders that may arise from the substance abuse.

Medication-assisted opioid treatment is a crucial intervention in fighting the opioid crisis across the nation. It is a safe and effective approach to help rehabilitate individuals from substance use disorder. For more information about opioid treatment programs, reach out to Desert Palm Clinic in Tucson, AZ.

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