There are a lot of people that are struggling with SUD or Substance Use Disorder. They now have options to help them mitigate and manage their cravings for opioids.
MAT or Medicated Assisted Treatment is now available and comes in a variety of forms. These include naltrexone (Vivitrol), buprenorphine (Suboxone), or methadone. These are considered anti-craving medicines. Combining these as well as a fully comprehensive program of addiction treatment services and a support system has shown to increase success in recovery from addiction. Using these medications greatly reduces all opioid-related symptoms that occur with withdrawal and not to mention the depression that will come with the abrupt stop of opiates. Using this and a long-term therapy approach often are needed to maintain long-term sobriety.
How Does MAT Work?
When someone takes an opiate in any type of form it does a few things. First, the opiates work by crossing over the blood-brain barrier. This causes a firing of neurotransmitters and massive brain activity which produces the “HIGH” feeling that people on opiates describe. The brain dumps dopamine into the receptors at a much higher level than normally experienced creating a sense of euphoria. When this activity is repeated consistently it will create a physiological dependence on the drug. Meaning the body will begin to need the opiates to reach homeostasis or feel normal. Now when this is combined with other factors such as genetic traits and also underlying co-occurring psychological factors can, in turn, change the way the dug is accepted into the person’s life. As a crutch, an escape, even a friend. This is considered the root of the addiction.
Medicated Assisted Treatment or MAT can work in two different ways. The doctor can provide a form of opiates that will fire the same receptors as other more dangerous opiates but over a much longer period of time. Greatly reducing the craving for more opiates. This also will take away the initial rush opiate users describe when abusing opiates intravenously. That can be the beginnings of breaking the psychological attachment to the opiates. There are also medications called opioid antagonists. These are non-opioid drugs that will attach to the same receptors as opiates and opioids but not allow them to be absorbed. This will not allow the person using the drugs to feel high in any way. There is a danger to this. If the person stops taking the blocker and then relapses an overdose is very likely due to the tolerance for opioids and opiates being greatly reduced.