Integrative Healthcare Center

Why Does IHC Offer Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Services?

Doctor preps patient for medication-assisted treatment or MAT services

Integrative Healthcare Center (IHC) offers medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in addition to several behavioral health therapies to combat substance use disorders (SUDs) such as opioid use disorders (OUDs) and much more. MAT aims to allow individuals to continue a self-directed life while seeking recovery. MAT has proven helpful via a treatment approach that:

·        Lowers instances of risky behaviors associated with SUDs

·        Decreases opiate use among patients with SUDs

·        Increases patient’s ability to gain and maintain employment

·        Increases retention in treatment and therapy

·        Improves overall survival rates

MAT is among the most effective prescription pain medication, opioid, and alcohol addiction treatments. Designed for implementation in combination with therapy, MAT reduces withdrawal symptoms and lessens the cravings for alcohol or opioids. According to the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), long-term sobriety is more likely with FDA-approved medication-assisted treatment than therapy alone. Therapies combined with MAT can include counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and other family and community-driven programs.

As the name suggests, medication-assisted therapy introduces various pharmaceuticals as a foundation for long-lasting recovery and results. Each clinically-driven medication provides a different function for the patient, including relieving withdrawal symptoms and blocking the effects of opiates entirely. The treatment plans are also patient-specific, created with input from both the prescriber and the patient for a well-rounded approach.

More prescriptions are under review now for MAT options for benzodiazepine and cocaine use disorders. We encourage you to contact Integrative Healthcare Center if you have any questions regarding MAT solutions.

Common Medications Used in MAT

Methadone, Vivitrol (naltrexone), Suboxone, and Subutex are the most used prescriptions for medication-assisted treatment. Integrative Healthcare Center uses Vivitrol for its higher reliability when treating OUDs. The primary difference in the medications is that some are considered narcotics. Suboxone and Subutex have the potential for abuse and have a narcotics classification. Naltrexone (or Vivitrol) is non-narcotic and safe to use in medically supervised situations such as IHC’s treatment programs.

How is Buprenorphine Used in MAT?

Subutex is the brand name for buprenorphine, and Suboxone combines buprenorphine with naloxone. It’s important to know how Subutex, Suboxone, and other medications (such as Vivitrol) work in the body. Suboxone and Subutex work as partial opioid agonists, which means they stick to the brain’s opioid receptors, making the body “think” it has enough opioids and preventing feelings of withdrawal. These medications also adhere to the receptors longer than abused opiates such as heroin or prescription opioid medications.

While Suboxone contains naloxone and Subutex does not, these prescription drugs can introduce withdrawal symptoms when abused. The misuse of buprenorphine derives from taking more than the prescribed dose or taking them in ways other than sublingually (either by snorting or via injections, for example). When withdrawal symptoms either are absent or not at the severity that requires avoidance, buprenorphine removes any remaining full agonist opioids from the brain receptors and replaces them with itself. While not producing the same euphoric effect as a full agonist, users can still get a “high” from these medications. But being a partial agonist does not satisfy the brain as full agonists do, so naloxone in Suboxone is prescribed primarily to deter people from abusing it.

Vivitrol/Naltrexone: The Maintenance MAT

As a non-narcotic opioid antagonist, naltrexone has no potential for abuse. It can be administered as a daily pill (Vivitrol) or in a once-monthly injection, which a physician can prescribe. To avoid extreme opiate withdrawal, Vivitrol requires someone to have detoxed from all opioids for at least 7-14 days.

While Suboxone and Subutex bind to the opioid receptors as partial agonists, the opioid receptors are still activated. Conversely, Vivitrol, used as an anti-craving medication like Suboxone and Subutex, instead attaches to the opioid receptors and blocks opioids from producing the euphoric effect, ensuring it’s a maintenance medication with no physical dependence. This distinction is why Vivitrol and naltrexone have also helped patients who struggle with alcohol dependence.

Combining Medication-assisted Treatment & Therapy

There have been considerable advancements in various drug therapies associated with MAT; however, research shows that patients receiving psychosocial treatment have better outcomes than those not. Therapy helps patients address the underlying issues of substance use and acts as a barrier against returning to opioid dependence. Behavioral health treatment works in conjunction with MAT, and some common goals of this dual approach include the following:

  • Access to both individual and group counseling
  • Treating any existing disorders from a psychiatric perspective
  • Follow-ups to medication adherence
  • Connection to family support via family therapy
  • Identifying and modifying substance use behaviors
  • Rewarding positive behaviors by way of contingency management
  • Connections to mutual help programs (as needed)
  • Referrals to community-based services (when appropriate)

Without treatment, conditions such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, and more, can all be underlying causes of addiction. Behavioral health treatment addresses the root causes of such conditions, which is significant. Nearly half of all patients struggling with substance abuse have also received a dual diagnosis with some form of co-occurring mental illness. In addition, therapy can open pathways to resources for patients with physical health conditions such as hepatitis, HIV, or AIDS.

Medication-assisted Treatment & Integrative Healthcare Center

We aim at IHC is to provide all the necessary tools for recovery from substance dependency, including behavioral therapies, counseling, and innovative treatments like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation and Biofeedback. As with any serious medical condition, a doctor’s supervision (or similar clinician level) is essential to remain safe.

IHC uses the following medications as part of our MAT programs:

· Vivitrol – a monthly injection that blocks the effects of opioids, typically administered after a patient has completed detox.

· Naltrexone – an oral medication that binds and blocks opioid receptors in the brain to reduce cravings and block intoxicating effects.

· Suboxone – an oral medication combining buprenorphine and naloxone, reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms while blocking any euphoric effects of opioids.

· Sublocade – a monthly injection that slowly releases buprenorphine, helping block the effects of opioids and reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

If you or someone you love has been struggling with substance dependence and is interested in harm reduction methods and MAT, contact us today. You can reach Integrative Healthcare Center at (833) 462-2227. We are here for you. Your addiction has an end.

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