Medication Assisted Therapy

647 words | 3 page(s)

Medication Assisted Therapy is an approach of treatment in which counselling and behavioural therapies are combined to treat drug and substance use disorders and avert opioid overdose. Medications are an important component for treatment particularly when in combination with counselling and further additional of behavioural therapies. These prescribed medications function in normalizing the brain chemistry and body functions while excluding the negative effects of the abused drugs, relieving physiological brains and blocking the ecstatic effects of drugs and alcohol. The prescribed medications and therapies are tailor made for each patient.

This combination program aid the recovering patient to cope with cravings and manage the triggers for relapse on a cognitive level and encourage extended sobriety periods. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), for effective treatment by Medication Assisted Therapy, it entails use of FDA-permitted medications in combination with evidence based therapies. Through this practice the recovery process can be successful (samhsa.gov). Major drugs of addiction comprise opioids and alcohol and the various medications prescribed to treat these addictions and the overdoses (Volkow, N. D. et.al, 2014). This include Buprenorphine, Probuphine, Methadone, Naloxone, Naltrexone, Disulfiram and Acamprosote.

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Methadone is a complete opioid agonist that produces effects to those produced by other opioids but are milder without significant impact to the user’s functioning capabilities. Methadone maintenance involves treatment of patients who their endogenous ligand-receptor have been damaged by prolonged usage of potent narcotic drugs by normalizing their endocrinologic and neurological processes (Dole, 1988). It acts to suppress the painful symptoms of withdrawal, alleviate drug cravings and blocks euphoric effects of the opiate drugs. This medication is administered in treatment centres. Some of the side effects of methadone are loss of appetite, stomach pains and sweating among others. Buprenorphine is a partial agonist for opioid that alleviates unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and decrease cravings. This medication can be prescribed by a physicians and has minimal side effects and dependence as compared to methadone. To reduce potential for abuse, buprenorphine is administered in combination with Naloxone. Probable side effects include nausea, sleeping difficulties and irritability.

Probuphine is an implant made of four rods attached into the upper arm. These rods direct a continuous dose of buprenorphine into the blood vessels for six months. Hence it is a convenient option for other buprenorphine forms. It works by relieving cravings and reducing symptom withdrawals. The advantages of probuphine is that it doesn’t require daily administration and the implant if in place, eliminates chances of abuse. Naltrexone acts as an opioid antagonist that blocks effects of opioids. It is effective in reducing alcohol consumption and the effects of alcohol and its cravings. It comes in the form of injections that are administered monthly. Naltrexone decreases one’s tolerance to opioids and a relapse is dangerous. The side effects include difficulty in sleeping, nervousness and headache. Disulfiram is an aversion therapy that blocks breakdown of alcohol in the liver hence producing nasty effects that discourage the craving for drinking.

Some of the side effects sweating, vertigo, headache and vomiting. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist that blocks effects of opioids at the receptor sites. This medication has potential in reversing or life-threatening overdoses, and as such can be given in a medical emergency to an opioid overdose. Acamprosote acts by regularizing brain activity disrupted by alcohol activity. It helps to reduce alcohol cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Side effects include dizziness, flatulence and nausea (Li-Tzy , Zhu, & Swartz, 2016)

MAT are an important development in treatment of opioid and alcohol abuse. These treatment despite being effective are underutilized. This could be by lack of access to treatment centres, guidance in the best MAT approach and the belief that using these prescriptions substitute one drug for the other. Despite of these obstacles, MAT is accepted as an evidence-based practice and is an effective approach of treatment that is recommended for opioid and alcohol disorders.

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