Pros & Cons of Medication Assisted Treatment
Medication assisted treatment (MAT) remains a controversy but is being utilized more than ever. Whichever side you are on, there seem to be more benefits than consequences. It appears the medications used for MAT are safe and significantly reduce the risk of relapse and possible overdose death. MAT is also cost effective, especially given the cost of expensive redundant treatment and detox episodes. It can also be skillfully administered on an outpatient basis.
Most importantly, studies show that the success rate is up to 70% when used in conjunction with behavioral therapy. Essentially, if you people refrain from using, they will not overdose. Pretty simple.
The understandable con is many groups think medication assisted treatment is legal drug addiction. I have even heard people say things like “Suboxone is prescription heroin.” In fact, some 12-step groups shun people who take Suboxone or other MAT medications. They indicate that it is not sober to be taking any mind-altering substances. While this label has been on Methadone for years, Suboxone is not Methadone. Methadone is a full opioid agonist. However, Suboxone is a partial opioid agonist with an opioid blocker. In other words, Methadone is a “pure-play” opioid and Suboxone is a medication to help someone recover from opioid addiction. Since Suboxone is synthetic, it has shown over long periods of use to be quite difficult to taper down from without discomfort of side-effects. This is one of the reasons medication assisted treatment needs to be performed by a skilled Suboxone doctor.
Buprenorphine, the main ingredient in Suboxone, is usually used in long term opioid replacement therapy like methadone. However, it can be taken in several different methods, and is also used “off-label” for chronic pain sufferers. Suboxone, which contains both Buprenorphine and Naloxone, is the most often used maintenance medication in treatment settings currently. It is also difficult to overdose or abuse Suboxone. For example, Sublocade is one of the newer versions that is administered as a monthly injection in a Suboxone doctor’s office. This further curtails any possible misuse.
People coming off opioids can receive this medication through injection, a skin patch, implant under the skin, or dissolving strip under the tongue. There is nominal risk of overdosing while on this medication.
On the other hand, Suboxone cannot be taken until the individual is in the process of withdrawal, which is accompanied by some discomfort. People who have a history of seizures may be at risk of experiencing more seizures while using this medication, and other side effects can include trouble breathing, low blood pressure and allergic reactions.
Naltrexone, which is often called Vivitrol, is used for treatment of alcohol and opioid addiction alike. It works by reducing cravings for both alcohol and opioids. According to recent data, when individuals are given Naltrexone, their cravings for opioids diminish. Studies have shown that the use of Naltrexone does help with abstinence and allows patients to focus on behavioral therapy. The medication can be managed in either pill or injection. One of the main concerns surrounding Naltrexone is liver concern. Prescribing doctors will almost always request a liver function test prior to its administration.
Alternatives for You is a Medication Assisted Treatment clinic located in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Servicing the greater West Palm Beach, Alternatives for You specializes in MAT care with Suboxone on an outpatient basis. Call us today at (561) 337-8880.
About the Author
Matthew Koenig is the principal of Last Call Marketing, which devotes their efforts to Digital Marketing, Content Marketing and SEO, primarily in healthcare and tourism concerns. Mr. Koenig is based out of South Florida. His sober date is June 10, 2013.