Medication assisted treatment, or MAT, is the practice of using FDA-approved medication as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. MAT has been shown to be most effective for treating alcohol and opioid use disorders. Typical medications include Antabuse, naltrexone, and Campral for alcohol addiction, and methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, often in the monthly, injectable form, Vivitrol, for opioid addiction. MAT and psychotherapy is generally considered the gold standard for treatment of opioid addiction because is significantly reduces cravings and reduces relapse rates while treating the underlying causes of the addiction. Medication has also been shown to improve outcomes for people trying to quit drinking. However, as with all medications, there are risks to consider before starting MAT.
Addiction medications, like all medications, may have side effects. Methadone and buprenorphine are chemically similar to opioids, and so their side effects can be similar too. These may include constipation, drowsiness, and dizziness. Some people may experience more severe side effects. Side effects of naltrexone might include stomach pain, headaches, anxiety, and joint pain. The vivitrol injection may have additional side effects such as pain or itching at the injections site. Antabuse can cause drowsiness, headache, rash, swollen tongue, and impotence. As everyone is different, you may or may not experience side effects from addiction medication. Even if you do, you may decide the tradeoffs are worthwhile. After all, addiction can lead to many negative outcomes, including serious health problems and death. It’s best to be aware of possible side effects so you’re not overly concerned if they arise.
While medication can be a great tool for controlling addiction, it’s only part of the equation. It can reduce cravings or be an extra layer of protection against relapse. For some people, this is enough, but most people struggling with addiction will need a comprehensive strategy for combating their substance use. This should include psychotherapy, positive relationships, and healthy lifestyle changes. Very often, addiction is just a symptom of other issues. If you only rely on medication, you remain at a greater risk of relapse and you aren’t getting as much as you could out of recovery.
For most addiction medications, there is very little risk of overdose. There’s no reason anyone would take too much disulfiram or too much naltrexone. The risk is mainly from methadone. Although methadone is safe when taken as directed, people do try to use it to get high, which can result in an overdose, sometimes a fatal overdose. This is one reason why methadone can legally only be dispensed at clinics. There is a slight risk of overdose from buprenorphine, especially if you drink while using it. However, buprenorphine has a ceiling effect, whereby taking more won’t have any additional effect, making it safer than methadone.
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.