One Community Health is committed to helping people live healthier lives through high-quality, comprehensive health services.
Opioid Treatment Services
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opiate Abuse
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Research shows that a combination of medication and therapy can successfully treat these disorders, and for some people struggling with addiction, MAT can help sustain recovery.
MAT is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers that contain opiates. The prescribed medication operates to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative effects of the abused drug.
Medications used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and MAT programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each patient’s needs. Combining medications used in MAT with anxiety treatment medications can be fatal.
Opioid Treatment Programs
Opioid treatment programs (OTPs) provide MAT for individuals diagnosed with an opioid use disorder. OTPs also provide a range of services to reduce, eliminate, or prevent the use of illicit drugs, potential criminal activity, and/or the spread of infectious disease. OTPs focus on improving the quality of life of those receiving treatment.
Counseling and Behavioral Therapies
Behavioral health treatments are ways of helping people with mental illnesses or substance use disorders. For example, counseling and more specialized psychotherapies seek to change behaviors, thoughts, emotions, and how people see and understand situations. Medications for mental and substance use disorders provide significant relief for many people and help manage symptoms to the point where people can use other strategies to pursue recovery.
For many people, the most effective behavioral health approach involves a combination of counseling and medication. No single treatment works best. Treatments must address each person’s needs and symptoms.
MAT has proved to be clinically effective and to significantly reduce the need for inpatient detoxification services. MAT provides a comprehensive, individually tailored program of medication and behavioral therapy. MAT also includes support services that address the needs of most patients.
The ultimate goal of MAT is full recovery, including the ability to live a self-directed life. This treatment approach has been shown to:
- Improve patient survival
- Increase retention in treatment
- Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
- Increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment
- Improve birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant
Research also shows that these medications and therapies can contribute to lowering a person’s risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C by reducing the potential for relapse.
Misconceptions About MAT
A common misconception associated with MAT is that it substitutes one drug for another. Instead, these medications relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. MAT programs provide a safe and controlled level of medication to overcome the use of an abused opioid. And research has shown that when provided at the proper dose, medications used in MAT have no adverse effects on a person’s intelligence, mental capability, physical functioning, or employability.
Opioid Dependency Medications
Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are used to treat opioid dependence and addiction to short-acting opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone. People may safely take medications used in MAT for months, years, several years, or even a lifetime. Plans to stop a medication must always be discussed with a doctor.
Methadone: Methadone tricks the brain into thinking it’s still getting the abused drug. In fact, the person is not getting high from it and feels normal, so withdrawal doesn’t occur. Pregnant or breastfeeding women must inform their treatment provider before taking methadone. It is the only drug used in MAT approved for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Buprenorphine: Like methadone, buprenorphine suppresses and reduces cravings for the abused drug. It can come in a pill form or sublingual tablet that is placed under the tongue.
Naltrexone: Naltrexone works differently than methadone and buprenorphine in the treatment of opioid dependency. If a person using naltrexone relapses and uses the abused drug, naltrexone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of the abused drug and prevents feelings of euphoria.
MAT Medications and Child Safety
It’s important to remember that if medications are to be kept at home, they must be locked in a safe place away from children. Methadone in its liquid form is colored and is sometimes mistaken for a soft drink. Children who take medications used in MAT may overdose and die.
Opioid Treatment at One Community Health
One Community Health has provided MAT for several years and is now in the process of expanding the program given the need in our community. Our Opioid Treatment Program combines both medical and behavioral health services to provide whole person care.