Opioid & Alcohol Detox With Medication-Assisted Treatment
By Midwest Detox Staff
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is just one part of the detoxification process that can help make it easier to wean off of addictive substances. Whether you’re struggling with an addiction to alcohol or opioids, there’s a good chance that MAT detox could be a pivotal step toward sobriety. However, MAT may not be the right solution for everyone. This is why it’s so important to understand the extent of your addiction and pursue the treatment option that best fits your needs.
In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into medication-assisted treatment so that you know what it is, how it works, and what it could do for you.
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment For Detox?
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) refers to various rehabilitation programs that use medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of substance abuse. It’s important to know that, while MAT is often a critical element of detoxification programs, it is just one piece of the puzzle. Most programs use MAT in tandem with more therapeutic and holistic treatment methods.
The main purpose of MAT is the alleviation of withdrawal symptoms caused by opioid or alcohol abuse. Certain medications can even help reduce cravings and make it easier to detox in relative comfort. The drugs used as part of a detox vary depending on the type of substance you’re detoxing from.
How Medication-Assisted Treatment Works When Detoxing
When you enter an inpatient detox clinic, a trained professional will discuss your needs and determine if MAT is necessary as part of your detox program. If you do require MAT, you will take predetermined doses of medications that work to do the following:
- Block any residual effects of opioids or alcohol in the system
- Reduce cravings and make it easier to overcome withdrawal symptoms
- Act in accordance with other treatment methods, such as therapy
Benefits Of Medication-Assisted Treatment When Detoxing
The benefits of medication-assisted treatment can be substantial, but that doesn’t mean that your doctor or detox specialist will recommend MAT to you. For mild cases of addiction, you may be better off with non-medicinal treatments. Nonetheless, MAT can help facilitate the body’s natural processes when dispelling toxic or addictive substances. Here are just a few of the primary advantages of enrolling in a detox program that offers medication-assisted treatment:
- Minimized Cravings - One of the most difficult aspects of any detox is the desire to return to the addictive substance you’re trying to quit. With MAT, cravings can be greatly reduced, making them easier to manage. This can make the entire detox process more comfortable.
- Withdrawal Alleviation - Cravings are not the only side effect to expect during detox. There are many withdrawal symptoms that can vary in nature and intensity based on the severity and underlying cause of the addiction. MAT can treat various withdrawal symptoms, including (but not limited to) headaches, nausea, lethargy, and muscle pain.
- Mental Health Support - Detox is often a very difficult time. While detoxing in a professional inpatient facility can make the entire process much easier, you will still have to contend with issues like anxiety, depression, and even more severe mental health problems like paranoia or hallucinations. These are often the mind’s response to withdrawal symptoms. By alleviating the symptoms, MAT can help keep you in a better state of mind for recovery.
- Mortality Reduction - In instances of severe addiction, withdrawal symptoms may become life-threatening. MAT ensures that doctors can provide you with life-saving medications to prevent or treat conditions like seizures or hypoventilation (dangerously shallow breathing).
- Relapse Prevention - MAT helps the body adjust to being rid of an addictive substance by providing a gradual “come down” supported by medication to reduce the negative effects of withdrawal. This, in turn, greatly reduces the risk of relapse and can help encourage you to continue your treatment after you finish the detox program.
Alcohol Detox With Medication-Assisted Treatment
Anywhere between 4% and 9% of patients with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) are treated with medication-assisted treatment. While these numbers are quite low, there is ample evidence that MAT is an effective treatment method during alcohol detox. To understand exactly how MAT works during alcohol detox, let’s see what each of these medications can do:
Acamprosate works by stabilizing the chemical signals in the brain that are often destabilized by alcohol abuse. Research indicates that acamprosate can increase the rate of abstinence in patients during (and after) detox. Acamprosate can also be used as a form of maintenance treatment, as it can reduce cravings over the long term.
Disulfiram is an MAT drug that can be used during or after alcohol detox. This once-a-day medication deters alcohol consumption on both a physical and psychological level. It works by inhibiting the metabolism of alcohol. If you take disulfiram and then consume alcohol, you will likely experience uncomfortable side effects, including headache and nausea, discouraging future abuse.
Naltrexone can come in two different forms: oral naltrexone and extended-release naltrexone. The former is taken daily by mouth, while the latter is taken via a shot and stays in the system for up to one month. In essence, naltrexone works much like disulfiram, insofar as it makes alcohol consumption less pleasurable, thereby lowering the risk of further abuse.
Opioid Detox With Medication-Assisted Treatment
Medication-assisted treatment is relatively common during opioid detox, as medication can help lower strong cravings and make it easier to get through detox and subsequent addiction treatments. Currently, there are three drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). Let’s take a closer look at each to understand how they work:
Buprenorphine is primarily used to subdue cravings for opioids. This oral medication can also be used to treat temporary or chronic pain. It works as an agonist substitution by displacing opioids from receptors in the brain and then replacing those same opioids. Common types of buprenorphine include Brixadi, Bunavail, Cassipa, Probuphine, Sublocade, and Subutex. Suboxone and Subsolv are two forms of buprenorphine that also use naloxone.
Like buprenorphine, methadone works as a synthetic opioid agonist to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It also blocks the effects of opioids on the brain. Common examples of methadone include Methadose and Dolphine.
Naltrexone, also known as Naltrexone hydrochloride, is a long-lasting opioid antagonist that works by blocking the MU receptor. This receptor signals pain to the body, which means that naltrexone can help alleviate pain and reduce cravings for opioids. Common names for naltrexone include ReVia, Vivitrol, and Depade.
Get Help From A Medical Detox Center Today
Are you in need of inpatient detox for alcohol or opioids in Wisconsin? If so, Midwest Detox is the answer. We can help you achieve your goal of sobriety and take the first steps toward a happier, more fulfilling life.
At Midwest Detox, our trained professionals implement a wide range of treatments, therapies, and holistic healing methods to ensure that you can comfortably detox. Our detox program combines the comfort of a high-end facility with the efficacy of a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan. This way, you can begin your recovery with the skills and confidence you need to stay sober for good.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Reach out to Midwest Detox at 414-409-5200 or send us a message today.