April is Alcohol Awareness Month, a campaign with the aim of raising awareness about the causes and treatment available for alcohol use disorder (AUD) and to reduce social stigma. AUD is considered a brain disorder that can be mild, moderate, or severe. The good news is, no matter how severe the problem may seem, evidence-based treatment with medications, behavioral therapies, support groups can help people with AUD achieve and maintain recovery.
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.
MAT is an evidence-based treatment approach that helps clients by relieving their withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings. The FDA has approved several medications to treat substance use disorder, such as Suboxone, Sublocade, and Vivitrol. Suboxone decreases the severity of withdrawal symptoms and reduce a patient’s dependence on opioids in the long term. It is taken orally on a daily basis. Sublocade (buprenorphine), is given by injection once a month for adults with moderate to severe opioid use disorder.
Dependence on alcohol or opioids can also be treated with naltrexone, which works by blocking the effect of opioid receptors and decreasing cravings and urges to use alcohol or opioids. Vivitrol, a brand name prescription drug, is naltrexone that is injected intramuscularly once a month. Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are the most common medications used to treat alcohol use disorder. Buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone are commonly used to treat opioid use disorders.
Besides stabilizing people, MAT can help to sustain recovery and is also used to prevent or reduce opioid overdose. This treatment option has been shown to reduce relapse and improve patient survival, increase retention in treatment, increase the individual’s ability to gain and maintain employment, and improve birth outcomes among women who are pregnant and have substance use disorders.
At InterCommunity Health Care, MAT programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each patient’s needs. Call 860-569-5900 to learn more or make an appointment.