Over the years there has been talk of pills that help the recovery process and relapse prevention, but this have not picked up in spite of the complexity of addiction recovery and treatment.
According to SHAMSHA, Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is useful in helping in both treatment of substance abuses and relapse prevention when used in combination with traditional recovery through counseling and behavior changes.
There is evidence that this medication stop addictions. They are also FDA approved medications for treating both opioids and alcohol addictions.
Most people avoid the MATs because they reason that this will be equivalent to substituting one drug for another. That was my reaction too when I first heard of MAT but I believe that this are worth exploring for anyone who is dealing with addiction and struggles with recovery and relapse.
Medication assisted treatment for opioid addiction
The main drugs used for Opioid addiction including Heroin, morphine, codeine, oxycodone and hydrocodone are Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. These have been used by many people safely for short to lifetime periods. Starting a plan on of these should be under medical direction and plans to stop must be discussed with a medical doctor.
Medication assisted treatment for alcohol
The medication popularly used for alcohol are not a cure for alcohol abuse and addiction. These medications need to be combined with traditional recovery treatment which include counseling and recovery skills development for successfully overcoming alcohol abuse and addiction.
The drugs include Disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone. None of these are a cure for alcoholism but have proven successful in aiding recovery and relapse prevention.
Why are these not being used more
Most people are unwilling to use any drugs for their recovery. There is the belief that they are replacing one drug for another.
Like the fear for recovery, there is the fear for the side effects that these drugs may have. This is a myth as though the side effects of these drugs can, in rare cases be serious, the side effects of relapsing on alcohol are more common and more serious.
Some people see the use of these drugs as a shortcut and they want to use the traditional more popular therapies and support systems like the 12 steps. These drugs are a compliment and not replacement of the support systems, just one more thing that help in the process for recovery.
A few people do not want to use or try these drugs because they still are not ready to give up drinking. If This is the attitude, then the relapse is only around the corner. If one has made a commitment to completely change their lives from addiction, it would be prudent to talk to the doctor about these drugs.
Cost of the drugs
Most of these drugs are covered by most medical plans. Should you be in a country that there is no coverage for the cost, these drugs cost less than the cost of alcohol.
Having struggled with addiction and recovery in my family and knowing the pain of addiction and the effects it has on the user, and the family, its hard to understand why anyone struggles with addiction and is wiling to turn their life around would shy away for MAT.
In spite of its promise, the MAT has been greatly underused. To educate yourself more, read more about the medication assisted treatment in detail on Samhsa site.
Important: This is general information, and is not specific to the needs of a specific person. This material is NOT complete. It does not include all possible precautions, side effects, or interactions. You should always consult your doctor when making decisions about your health. And you should consult your doctor before starting or stopping medication.
I have no financial interest in any of these medications.
If you have any questions or any comment, feel free to leave them below.