The Monster that is accidental opioid addiction can be successfully treated.2 However, there is no single treatment that is right for everyone.13 And for any treatment to be effective, the person living with the Monster must first acknowledge the problem and speak to a specially trained doctor or health care professional.
Medication Assisted Treatment, or MAT, is a treatment for substance-use disorders that helps wean patients off addictive drug use. Research has shown that when treating substance-use disorders, such as opioid addiction, responsible Medication Assisted Treatment in combination with counseling is often the best choice.2
MAT helps a user regain a stable state of mind by reducing the effects of withdrawals and cravings.2 By suppressing the effects, the patient has a chance to focus on making the changes they need to regain a healthy lifestyle.2
Used responsibly, MAT can help patients manage their addiction on the road to recovery. Responsible MAT does not substitute one addiction for another nor does it create a new addiction.2
Types of MAT
There are many different types of medications used in MAT. One type of medication commonly used is buprenorphine. Buprenorphine tricks the brain into believing it is still getting the problem opioids. The goal of taking buprenorphine is to allow patients to feel normal by reducing the symptoms of withdrawals and cravings, without being high.2
Buprenorphine is the only MAT prescribed in a doctor’s office for use at home. By law, only doctors who have been specially trained and certified can prescribe buprenorphine for opioid dependence.10 To find a certified doctor click here.
It’s very important for patients to have the full support of their family and friends during the recovery process.2 Love and encouragement can go a long way in helping a patient avoid or overcome setbacks, like relapse.2
Relapse is a common characteristic of treating chronic diseases, such as opioid addiction.10 It happens when a patient who has stopped abusing opioids starts abusing them again.
Relapse should not be seen as a failure. Everyone has a different experience and many patients relapse before getting better.2 A relapse may simply be a sign a patient isn’t getting the right support or medical treatment they need to recover, and that a change in the treatment plan may be needed.13
A patient can prevent relapse by staying away from triggers including friends still using drugs and former drug-use hangouts.2
Another way is to set realistic recovery expectations.2 Each treatment plan is unique to the patient and there’s no set timetable for successful treatment. Treatment can last anywhere from a couple months, to a year, or even several years.2 It’s important to remember that opioid addiction is a chronic disease requiring long-term care and monitoring.13
Recovery is possible. But it takes work.2