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Author: Shelby Robbins
Date: August 24, 2022

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Contents

Overdose deaths now claim more lives every year than car crashes. More than 100,000 lives were lost to overdoses last year - a 15% increase from the year before. Those overdoses are caused by opioids and the fact that most have not received life-saving recovery medication, which is recommended standard of care.

Research shows that medication + therapy can treat these disorders and for some people struggling with addiction can sustain recovery.

What you need to know about Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

MAT is considered the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other federal agencies.

Rehabs fail 90% of the time when not followed by medication. MAT helps reduce cravings, decreases withdrawal symptoms, and significantly lowers the chance of relapse and overdose. MAT has been shown to be 6x more effective than rehab.

There are several medications commonly prescribed for MAT. Buprenorphine (commonly known as Soboxone), Methadone, Naloxone, and Naltrexone are the most common.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone may be taken daily, twice a day, or every other day. It achieves maximum effects within an hour and lasts up to 24 hours after each dose. This medication comes in tablets or films. Most research shows suboxone works best when you take it for a minimum of 1 to 2 years, if not longer. But everyone is different and you can discuss the length of your treatment plan with your provider.

Like other opioid drugs, buprenorphine attaches to a specific site on the nerve cell (μ-opioid receptors). However, buprenorphine activates these receptors only partially, about half the strength of other opioids (a "partial agonist"), As such, it does not produce a high, even at higher and higher doses (a “ceiling effect”). It is, therefore, safer than medications like oxycontin or methadone. At the same time, it is long-acting, provides stable, low-level stimulation of opioid receptors in the brain prevents withdrawal symptoms, and reduces cravings.

What Is Naloxone?

Naloxone is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that is designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose. It is an opioid antagonist—meaning that it binds to opioid receptors and can reverse and block the effects of other opioids, such as heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. it is administered when a patient is showing signs of opioid overdose, naloxone is a temporary treatment and its effects do not last long. Therefore, it is critical to obtain medical intervention as soon as possible after administering/receiving naloxone. The medication can be given by intranasal spray (into the nose), intramuscular (into the muscle), subcutaneous (under the skin), or intravenous injection.A practitioner should assess the need to prescribe naloxone for patients who are receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT) or otherwise considered a risk for opioid overdose.

What Is Naltrexone?

Intramuscular extended-release Naltrexone is a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat both Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) as a Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) option. Naltrexone can be prescribed and administered by any practitioner licensed to prescribe medications and is available in a pill form for Alcohol Use disorder or as an extended-release intramuscular injectable for Opioid Use disorder. A Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) is required for the long-acting injectable formulation to ensure that the benefits of the drug outweigh its risks.

The pill form can be taken daily for AUD, but the extended-release injectable formulation is approved for the treatment of OUD. The pill form is taken daily and the extended-release injectable is administered every four weeks, or once a month, by a practitioner.

Naltrexone is not a recommended MAT option for anyone younger than 18 years of age, or for patients experiencing other health conditions.

Additional support

Typically, after 1-2 weeks of starting medication, people are at a higher risk for suicide. They are now well enough to make and follow through with a plan. Make sure your teen has access to 1:1 or group therapy in addition to medication, once they have stabilized!

We offer an NA group and social-emotional group that can support teens struggling with addiction.

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