Heap of mixed opioid pillsIn some cases, immediately stopping a drug can be too much of a shock to the system, putting your health at risk. Certain substances, including alcohol, opioids like heroin and benzodiazepines, trick the body into thinking it needs them to function correctly. This is known as physical dependence. When you’re dependent on drugs or alcohol, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms that vary in severity from mild to life-threatening.

A medication assisted treatment program minimizes cravings, dulls the effects of illicit opioids and in some cases, eases withdrawal symptoms. Some people worry that with MAT, you’re just swapping one drug for another. However, there’s a substantial body of evidence that suggests replacement and tapering, in conjunction with counseling, is the most effective way to help someone overcome opioid addiction.

How Does Medication Assisted Treatment Work?

The medications approved by the FDA for use in treating opioid addiction are Vivitrol, Suboxone and methadone. They are given to the sufferer to curb cravings, ease withdrawal symptoms and nullify the effects of illicit drugs. The dose of medication is gradually decreased as your mind and body get used to no longer having the substance of abuse in the system.

Vivitrol is particularly effective because it is long-lasting — it stays active in the system for up to a month, reducing cravings and dulling the effects of opioids. Methadone and Suboxone require daily administration, which is more of a challenge for someone with a powerful addiction to maintain.

Is It Safe to Substitute One Drug for Another?

Some people are put off treatment because they mistakenly believe they’re just replacing one drug for another. This is usually the thought process of an addict, who has a strong drive to maintain their current situation. In most cases, opioids obtained on the black market are extremely dangerous. They are often cut with other substances, posing a severe risk to the health of the person using them. With FDA-approved, professionally supervised MAT, you are not at risk. Your physician will taper you off the drug gradually in a way that is safe for you.

Is There Research to Back Up the Effectiveness of Medication Assisted Treatment?

There is a strong body of evidence to suggest that MAT is highly effective in people suffering from opioid use disorder. Studies show it significantly reduces illicit opioid use compared to other methods, especially when applied with counseling. Vivitrol blocks the receptors that cause the feeling of being high, making drug use a significantly less enjoyable experience.

Does Counseling Work Alongside MAT?

Breaking a habit is about more than blocking the physical sensation that goes along with getting high. It’s integral that you also address the underlying issues that have led to you turning to drugs in the first place. Often, substance abuse is a coping mechanism or self-medication for psychological distress. In the long term, drug use only makes these underlying problems worse, while counseling and identifying new coping mechanisms are a long-term solution.

People who have been suffering from opioid addiction often feel there’s no way out, but there is. Counseling and MAT have been proven as highly effective methods of helping individuals overcome addiction and get back on track to living a healthy, happy life. To find out more, call On Demand Recovery for therapy counseling services today at 330-270-8610.