Medication-Assisted Treatment for Addiction
Helping manage opioid withdrawal symptoms.
Suddenly stopping the use of addictive substances such as alcohol and opioids, often known as “going cold turkey,” can sometimes lead to dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including heart attacks, seizures, and strokes in certain cases. That’s why your addiction treatment plan may include medication-assisted treatment and medically supervised detoxification. Your doctor will work with you to decide if these options should be included in your substance-use disorder care plan.
We use medication to treat many forms of substance-use disorder, including alcohol addiction and opioid addiction. Medication-assisted treatment, also known as MAT, can help minimize withdrawal symptoms. We use a medication called buprenorphine as part of many patients’ treatment for opioid addiction.
How does buprenorphine work?
Buprenorphine attaches to the same areas of the brain as addictive substances. Buprenorphine binds to these areas longer than addictive drugs, which means it has a longer effect.
However, buprenorphine doesn’t bind perfectly to these areas of the brain. This imperfect match means you’ll experience milder withdrawal symptoms, because the brain is reacting as though it’s receiving the addictive drug it’s used to. But you won’t experience the euphoria or high from the medication. This lowers buprenorphine’s risk of addiction and makes it a more effective addiction treatment.
How we use medication-assisted treatment
Medication-assisted treatment can be a component of every level of our addiction care, including: