Medicated Assisted Therapy aka MAT

MAT is used alongside of treatment ( groups and therapy) to help the addicts brain figure out what is going on with the dramatic ups and downs of chemicals in the brain.

There are a few that I have had expierences with in my heroin addiction and some I have not tried. Also, they are coming out with new medications all the time.

First I’m going to start off with the most intense way to get clean, and that is cold turkey. To detox off of heroin cold turkey, it takes about 7 days for the “dope sickness” to subside. Personally for me, when I would attempt this, it would drive me the most insane. Cravings would ultimately take over and by day three I would be relapsing. The dope sickness feels like your bones are crumbling inside of you. You can’t eat and you’re very nauseous. It also includes being on edge, anxiety, sweating, insomnia, and chills. I would compare it to the flu and multiply it by ten. There would be short bits of sobriety if I was monitored by my mom, who would try so hard. It’s overwhelming to quit the drug and lifestyle, especially cold turkey. It is not an impossible method, but for me, I was unsuccessful.

Another type of MAT treatment is called Vivitrol. Vivitrol is an extended release of Naltrexone injection once a month on top of treatment of groups and therapy. I did have some months sober from Vivitrol and it worked fine without side effects. What helped me with Vivitrol was that there was no withdrawal coming off of it and that it really does help with cravings. The downside of Vivitrol is you have to have 5 to 7 days clean time in order to get the shot. It doesnt have to be a downside if you have good supports to get you through those rough days. I just dont think I was ready to be clean at that moment. They do have an Naltrexone pill as well. My experience with the pill was what turned me off from Vivitrol and Naltrexone pill. I woke up one morning and decided that day I was going to get clean. I used the night before but very little, not even two bags. I took half a pill in the morning and within five minutes I was in the worst withdrawal I ever expierenced. It was worse then regular cold turkey. My aunt came over because my mom was out of town to my house and found me naked, sweating, panicking that I couldn’t catch my breath. The ambulance came and picked me up and admitted me into the hospital. They explained to me that i caused myself to go into precipitated withdrawal which makes someone violently ill and is worse then regular withdrawal. Once I was discharged, my aunt took me back to her house to keep an eye on me. I stayed the night and by morning, still dope sick but not as intense manipulated her to let me go home. Within ten minutes of being dropped off, I left to go get more heroin. That’s the insanity part. It is like the devil and angel inside of you battleing every day and most times the addiction (the devil) swallowed me whole.

Suboxone was something I was already familiar with because I would expierment with it in high school when it was still a pill. Suboxone ( Buprenorphine ) is a controlled substance and is a strip of medication that goes under the tounge that acts as a blocker to any opiates that you come into contact with. There are specific doctors that prescribe this which make it a little difficult to get. In my out patient program, theres a suboxone doctor who works with my counsler which I find extremely helpful. The medication helps my brain level itself out as I’m learning how to live life again. The extreme highs and lows are more manageable and with suboxone, the cravings subside, I can be a productive member of society. When the time comes, the doctor will montior a taper to slowly take myself off the medication without any real withdrawal symptoms. Just like Vivitrol, taking suboxone too early will cause preciptated withdrawal. They had me wait 24 hours to do my intake with the suboxone doctor and that’s where they administer your first dose to make sure no side effects or withdrawal happen.

The last MAT medication that we are going to talk about is Methadone. They administer methadone in clinics monitored by doctors and nurses. Methadone is also used for pain management and changes the way your brain and nervous system respond to pain so that you feel relief. It blocks the high you get from opiates which would turn someone off to using if they can’t feel it. I have never had a personal experience with methadone so I have much more learning to go.

Nothing in this post is medical advice and is only to use to inform and educate. Talk to your doctor if you feel you need any of these medications and they can point you in the right direction.

Talk to your healthcare provider immediately and ask for guidance if you think that you have an opioid addiction or call the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

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