Medication-Assisted Treatment Can Be Effective Part of Your Recovery

Medication-Assisted Treatment Can Be Effective Part of Your Recovery

Medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction can be a controversial topic in the recovery community, as some believe that treatment and recovery should be based on abstinence.

At Olalla Recovery Centers, we embrace medication-assisted treatment (MAT) because we want our patients to focus on building the skill set they need for lifelong recovery. For some individuals, MAT can be highly effective in treating addiction — and we want to be part of that dialogue.

Why Medicated-Assisted Treatment Works

Medication is often prescribed to control an individual’s withdrawal from opioids. For those who quit “cold turkey” and try to control the symptoms on their own — even with counseling — the risk of relapse may be greater, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. The patients often struggle with their cravings and return to using.

There are four primary types of medications:
  • Buprennorphine (Subutex)
  • Buprenorphine/naloxone combined (Suboxone)
  • Methadone
  • Naltraxone injection (Vivitrol)
  • Oral naltraxone

Buprenorphine (partial agonist) and methadone (agonist) activate the same receptors in the brain as opioids but reduce cravings. Naltrexone (antagonist) blocks opioids from acting and providing a high in the event of a relapse.

As a primary, chronic disease, substance addiction is not unlike other diseases — such as diabetes — that require lifelong monitoring, treatment and managing. Just as with diabetes, for some patients, lifestyle changes alone are not enough and maintenance medication is required.

MAT allows individuals to be fully participating in their recovery and life activities and become reengaged in building relationships, gaining employment and maintaining abstinence from intoxication. The medication is effective in helping them weather the ups and downs of their recovery without seeking an external stimulant like opioids.

The National Council for Behavioral Health considers MAT the gold standard for treating opioid-use disorders. MAT works in conjunction with counseling and therapies to provide a holistic approach to treatment.

MAT at Olalla

Olalla Recovery welcomes individuals on any medication-assisted treatment to our outpatient program. All MAT patients, except those taking methadone, are also accepted at our in-patient facility. (We are unable to accept methadone in our in-patient facility because of DEA medication regulations.) We engage the individual’s prescribing clinician to coordinate care and ensure the individual is following the program properly.

We don’t focus on whether or when the patient should taper off MAT. Rather, we ensure there’s dialogue with the prescribing provider, while our program focuses on behavioral changes. Once individuals complete the in-patient program, we also have referrals to local clinicians so they can continue their medication-assisted program.

At Olalla Recovery Centers, we know the stigma and bias related to medication-assisted treatment is still strong. We’re encouraged that the recovery community is making strides toward better understanding the role and effectiveness of MAT.

If you or your loved one is fighting opioid addiction, we encourage you to contact our staff to learn what options you have for treatment. MAT may not be right for all individuals but it’s important for you to get expert help — and we are here for you.