Medication Assisted Treatment

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MAT At Northbound Treatment Services

Opioid addiction is a formidable opponent. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 45 percent of people who use an opiate such as heroin, also become addicted to prescription painkillers. More than 90 percent of these heroin users also try or use at least one other drug. 

Communities across the United States and worldwide are still facing an opioid epidemic, as the rate of overdose-related incidences due to prescription opioid drug use has continued to rise. As a result, increased demands for prevention and substance abuse treatment programs, and addiction support resources have increased exponentially. 

Northbound’s Solution for Opioid Addiction

To combat this ongoing opioid epidemic, medical organizations and addiction specialists are utilizing evidence-based treatment methods and therapies, with the hopes of getting closer to finding solutions on how to stop people from easily accessing these potent and addictive opiates. Thus, most importantly, decreasing the number of overdoses, and discovering the main reasonings behind opioid dependence. 

Addiction vs Opioid Dependence


It is important to note, that dependence and addiction are not the same. Addiction is a disease, where a person abuses substances such as drugs and alcohol for a reward, for example, to get high. In the case of opioids, a person addicted to these strong painkillers, take them to feel a high not to necessarily to relieve some type of pain. In other words, addiction encompasses both a mental and physical reliance on a given substance. 

Substance Dependency

Dependency, on the other hand, is when someone has used opioids regularly for an extended period of time, and their body has become used to it. Opioid dependence is a medical term defined as a person’s inability to stop taking opioids, medications used to cure pain, such as heroin, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine, heroin, etc., despite the consequences. 

Prolonged and increasingly higher doses of opiate drugs change the brain so that it functions more or less normally when the drug is present and abnormally when the drug is removed. This is why withdrawal symptoms occur during detoxification

Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)

It is possible for people to become dependent on something such as a drug, but not necessarily become addicted. Although, this is very rare, as substance dependence frequently leads to addiction. become addicted. Substance dependence is a major risk factor and a sign of developing an opioid use disorder (OUD). 

We have to remember that addiction is a disease, not a choice. While it is a choice to drink alcohol or take drugs, becoming addicted is something that no one asks or signs up for. 

How are Opioid Dependence and Addiction Treated?

At Northbound, opioid dependence and addiction are both treated separately as they are two different things. During their time at our facility, patients will undergo detoxification before treatment starts. During detox, our addiction specialists slowly decrease and flush out the addictive opioids out of your system with other anti-craving medications such as methadone. 

As the body is so dependent on these painkillers, uncomfortable physiological withdrawal symptoms such as chills, sweats, vomiting, and diarrhea occur. A less addictive painkiller will replace the opioid to help relieve pain and is less likely to cause dependence. Counseling and therapies may also likely be suggested during the course of the treatment and recovery process. 

The Use of Medication-Assisted Treatment 

To free people from the destructive disease of opioid addiction, Northbound believes in utilizing the best cutting edge research and technology, to give our patients the best outcomes. Therefore, we use Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), an evidence-based practice specifically used to help put an end to the epidemic of opioid dependence and addiction. 

In addition, our comprehensive treatment model for opioid dependence includes evidence-based clinical services for individuals and families, the intentional formation of a durable and supportive peer community, 12-step integration, and medical interventions where indicated.

Watch this brief video for an overview of our approach to Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT):

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

While Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is generally applied to treating opioid dependence, the procedure has been known to be helpful in treating other addictions such as alcoholism. MAT programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each patient’s specific needs. 

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the umbrella term used to describe the integration of a variety of ant-craving prescription medications with counseling and comprehensive psychosocial/behavioral therapy programs to aid clients in ceasing substance abuse. 

During the MAT procedure, the keyword here is “assisted,” as studies show that during detoxification, the anti-craving medications on their own do not provide the level of support and internal transformation needed for sustained recovery or a significantly enhanced quality of life. 

This is why, counseling, therapy, and support groups are combined, so that a patient suffering from substance abuse, has a very high recovery success rate, and a good chance that they will maintain sobriety without the risk of relapsing. 

Anti-craving Medications Used During MAT

There are three most commonly prescribed drugs approved by the FDA, which are used during medicated-assisted treatment, to cease opioid or alcohol dependence. Buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone work to block the euphoric effect that alcohol and opioids have on the brain and body. 

However, the main purpose of utilizing these medications during MAT is to relieve physiological cravings, to normalize brain and body functionality, so that people do not feel the negative effects of the abused drug. Remember, that everyone and their cases of addiction are different, and therefore, treatment methods vary. 

An addiction, especially to opioids, is commonly marked by strong cravings to use even after successful completion of detox and treatment, but, this doesn’t mean that someone is out of the woods just yet. 

For people who are struggling to become sober and stay sober, these cravings are a normal occurrence during withdrawal. However, these cravings are a constant reminder of something that a person was once so dependent on. Therefore, the risk of relapse is always so high. 

Fortunately, there are rehab facilities, such as Northbound, which has proven successfully that the utilization of these special medications to stop these cravings and keep them off with medication-assisted treatment and therapy has helped to promote abstinence, and most importantly, the risk of relapse has decreased dramatically. 

Due to the chronic nature of opioid use disorder, the duration of the MAT procedure depends on a variety of factors. Everyone is different, and so are their needs. There is no minimum or maximum treatment time that is recommended, although periodic re-evaluation is suggested. For some patients, treatment for opioid addiction may continue indefinitely to reduce the common risk of relapse.  

Who is a Good Candidate for Medication-Assisted Treatment? 

At Northbound, clients are educated and empowered in selecting the MAT path that is right for them. The goal is to make long-term recovery possible. In addition to general psychiatric oversight and medication management for mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety, and mood disorders.

Why Has Medication-Assisted Treatment Proven to Be So Successful? 

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has been known to be a controversial procedure in the past, especially surrounding opioid addiction. While there has always been some sort of stigma surrounding mental health and addiction, people thought MAT was a replacement for addiction as opposed to actual treatment and rehabilitation to help reduce the high-risk opioid dependency. Today, the treatment method is not looked down upon so much anymore, due to the evidence demonstrating high success rates in addiction recovery. 

More and more people have turned to MAT to recover from addiction, as the anti-craving medications used, allows a person to gradually transition into recovery the right way, as quick bouts in rehab have shown the opposite effect, resulting in increased relapse rates, overdose, and death. 

Medication-assisted treatment truly has been successful because it has prevented withdrawal, cravings, and even relapse. While there are other drugs that can block the desired effects of opioids, the ones used during MAT are FDA approved, and even if a person unfortunately relapses, the medications work to block the receptors in the brain responsible for producing the high and euphoric effect, which causes addictive tendencies in the first place. Lastly, in conjunction with medication, patients who undergo medication-assisted treatment, receive intensive therapy, both group, and individual, and because they have support, it is proven that these people are more motivated to continue through the entire treatment process. 

The Addiction Specialists of Northbound Treatment Services Are Here to Help 

Our patients suffering from opioid addictions, work in collaboration with our medical and therapeutic staff to select the MAT plan of care that will best fit their needs. 

These decisions are informed by carefully assessing each individual’s personal history and preferences, in concert with clinical recommendations from the interdisciplinary treatment team. The efficacy of the chosen intervention strategy is carefully monitored and adjusted as needed.

For more information and for support through this process please contact us today, by calling Northbound’s admissions team at (866) 511-2458.

For a comprehensive summary of Northbound’s approach to MAT please see our white paper, “Effective and Responsible Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Dependence” (©2017 Northbound Treatment Services).






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