Studies have shown that people recovering from opiate dependence have better success rates when using the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) method. Although the approach has taken a while to gain acceptance from more traditional communities like AA, peer-reviewed studies continue to demonstrate that MAT is a viable option. Although it is primarily associated with treating opioid use disorder, MAT is also available to treat alcoholism.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder
Various addiction doctor-prescribed medications control opiate cravings with reliability and longevity. Many people choose to use medication-assisted treatment for years, as it offers a higher guarantee against relapse. There are several common drugs used to manage opioid dependency.
- Buprenorphine – suppresses and reduces cravings for opioids
- Methadone – reduces opioid cravings and reduces or blocks the effects of opioids
- Naltrexone – blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids
These drugs come in different combinations and forms to serve different purposes. For example, naltrexone is available in daily pill form or as an extended-release monthly injection (the injection is branded under the name Vivitrol). Buprenorphine is available as an extended release injection branded under the name Sublocade, or as an oral pill branded as Subutex. There is also a popular MAT option that combines buprenorphine and naltrexone into a sublingual film branded as Suboxone. Individuals consult with a MAT psychiatrist to choose which option (if any) is best for their specific case. In many cases, individuals may choose not to go the MAT route at all.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder
There are several prescription medications that are useful for treating alcohol use disorder.
- Naltrexone – also used to treat opioid use disorder, this medication reduces cravings for alcohol as well. Although it is an opioid antagonist, it does not block the intoxication effects of alcohol
- Acamprosate – works for people in recovery to prevent people from drinking alcohol. The person should be abstinent for at least five days before using Acamprosate
- Disulfiram – treats chronic alcoholism and most effective for people who have already detoxed. Should not be taken by those who have consumed alcohol within the last 12 hours
- Antabuse – this medication creates an allergic reaction to alcohol. Drinking while on Antabuse will result in severe sickness which is considered to be a deterrent
These medications are not one-size-fits all, and they don’t guarantee that the individual will stop drinking. They are used in conjunction with a substance use disorder treatment program as a supplement.
Detox Doesn’t Guarantee Recovery
Drug detox is not designed to resolve the long-standing psychological, social, and behavioral problems associated with alcohol and drug abuse. Appropriate drug treatment after detox greatly increases long-terms success.
Many recovery facilities offer medically monitored drug and alcohol detox in a home-like environment. Medical teams use the latest evidence-based approaches to make sure this period is safe and as comfortable as possible. During detox, clinicians manage the physical changes that occur in the brain and body after repeated alcohol or drug use while providing the highest level of comfort and support.