Opioid abuse has reached an all-time high in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), more than 115 people die every day from an opioid overdose, and over 2 million Americans are currently struggling with an opioid addiction. Because opioids affect the brain’s reward system, they can be extremely difficult to get off of. However, Say’s Dr. Charles Noplis medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a form of therapy that can help make withdrawal less painful while allowing patients to safely detoxify from drugs such as heroin or painkillers like OxyContin without relapsing back into addiction. Here’s what you need to know about MAT:
What are opioids?
Opioids are a class of drugs that include legal prescription painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone and morphine. They also include illegal drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.
The term “opioid” comes from opium, which is derived from the poppy plant Papaver somniferum. Opium has been used for thousands of years to treat pain and induce sleep in people who suffer from chronic illness or injury.
The problem with opioid addiction.
Opioid addiction is a chronic disease that affects the brain. It can lead to overdose, which is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose; this translates into over 47,000 people per year.
The problem with opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers is that they work by activating certain receptors in your body called mu-opioid receptors (MORs). When MORs are activated by one of these drugs, they release dopamine–a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward–and block pain signals from reaching your brain’s cortex area. This can create a euphoric feeling similar to what you experience when eating chocolate or having sex: you feel good because your brain has been tricked into thinking there’s something worth celebrating!
How does medication-assisted treatment work?
Medication-assisted treatment is used to help manage the symptoms of opioid addiction and dependence. It can also help prevent overdose by reducing cravings and preventing withdrawal symptoms, which make it harder to stay off drugs.
Medication-assisted treatment has two main components:
- Medications that help control withdrawal symptoms
- Medications that block or reduce cravings for opioids
Types of medication-assist treatment.
There are several types of medication-assisted treatment (MAT), and they can be used together or alone.
- Buprenorphine is an opioid replacement medication that’s prescribed in pill form. It works by binding to the same receptors in your brain as other opioids like heroin, but it does not produce euphoria or intoxication.
- Naltrexone is an opioid blocker that prevents you from feeling any effects from taking an opioid drug–whether it’s prescribed by a doctor or taken by accident or on purpose.
- Methadone is another long-acting opioid replacement medication that helps reduce cravings for other opioids and withdrawal symptoms associated with stopping use abruptly
Medication-assisted treatment is a viable option for those who are struggling with an opioid addiction. It can help you achieve sobriety and maintain it, as well as address other issues that may have contributed to your substance use disorder in the first place.