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Medication-Assisted Addiction Treatment | What Is It And Does It Work?

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If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you're probably looking for any and all information on how to find a treatment that will work. You may have heard of medication-assisted addiction treatment, but what is it? Here's what you need to know.

What Is Medication-Assisted Addiction Treatment?

Medication-assisted addiction treatment (MAAT) is a type of treatment that uses medication in conjunction with therapy and other counseling services to treat addiction. When used together, patients have better recovery rates and relapse prevention outcomes.

How Does Medication-Assisted Addiction Treatment Work?

MAAT works by addressing the physical, mental, and behavioral aspects of addiction. The physical component is addressed through medication, which can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Unless the physical cravings are removed, the patient cannot work on the other aspects of their recovery.

The mental and behavioral components of addiction are addressed through therapy, which helps patients understand the thoughts and emotions that contribute to their addictive behaviors and helps patients develop healthy coping mechanisms and life skills.

What Medications Are Used in Medication-Assisted Addiction Treatment?

There are three FDA-approved medications that are currently used: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, and each has a number of brand names under which they are available. 

  • Methadone is a prescription that binds to the same receptors in the brain as opioids, like heroin or Oxycontin. Methadone reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings without causing the same level of intoxication as opioids.
  • Buprenorphine also binds to the same receptors in the brain as opioids but has a ceiling effect, meaning that there is a limit to the amount of intoxication it can cause.
  • Naltrexone is another medication that blocks the receptors in the brain as well. Naltrexone does not reduce withdrawal symptoms or cravings but can be effective in preventing relapse by reducing the pleasurable effects of opioids if they are used.

While each of the above medications is FDA-approved, they cannot work alone. Medication-assisted addiction therapy needs the therapy component to be successful. Unless you or your loved one learn coping tools, there is a risk of relapse.  

If you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction, medication-assisted addiction treatment may be an option worth considering. MAAT has been shown to be an effective treatment for addressing the physical, mental, and behavioral aspects of addiction. If you think MAAT may be right for you or your loved one, talk to a doctor or counselor about treatment options today.