Types of Medication Assisted Treatment

Types of Medication Assisted Treatment

types of medication assisted treatment

When you are addicted, you are physically dependent on a drug or on alcohol. One of the first steps in treating your addiction is to address that physical dependence. Some addiction treatment programs start with detox, to eliminate the drugs and alcohol from your system. There are several types of medication assisted treatment, though, that offer a more comprehensive approach and reduce the need for inpatient detox.

What is Medication Assisted Treatment

Medication assisted treatment is a combination of FDA-approved medications and therapeutic methods that are used to treat drug and alcohol addiction. The different types of medication assisted treatment vary depending on your type of addiction and your specific needs. The approach is designed to address your issues of cravings and withdrawal and enable you to get your life back on track.

Medication assisted treatment does not simply substitute one drug for another. The medications that are used for the different types of medication assisted treatment work to relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that you experience as you recover from your addiction. These programs provide a safe and controlled level of medication that helps you overcome your addiction. There have been no proven adverse effects from the medications on the recovering addict’s intelligence, mental capability, physical functioning, or employability.


When medication is combined with behavioral counseling, it becomes part of a holistic, whole-patient approach to addiction treatment. Research has proven that addicts receiving medication assisted treatment are:

  • At a reduced risk of death
  • Half as likely to become infected with HIV
  • Better able to comply with other medical therapies
  • Less involved in crime.

Recovering addicts who are treated with one of the various types of medication assisted treatment are able to enjoy an enhanced quality of life, with positive cognitive, emotional, and social functioning. The goals of this treatment are:

  • Reduction in substance use
  • Overdose prevention
  • Withdrawal from dependence
  • Relapse prevention

For Drug Addiction Treatment

The various types of medication assisted treatment are designed primarily to address the specific type of addiction. Medications used to treat addiction to opioids, including short-acting opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone include:

  • Methadone – tricks the brain into thinking it’s still getting the drug to which you have been addicted. With methadone use, withdrawal symptoms typically do not occur.
  • Buprenorphine – suppresses and reduces cravings for the abused drug.
  • Naltrexone – blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of the abused drug.

For Alcohol Abuse

The types of medication assisted treatment options differ somewhat when you are seeking treatment for alcohol abuse and addiction. These medications are not a cure but are typically used to treat alcohol disorder:

  • Disulfiram – used to treat chronic alcoholism. Disulfiram is most effective if you have already been through detoxification or if you are in the initial stage of abstinence.
  • Acamprosate – used if you are in recovery, have stopped drinking, and want to avoid drinking. While this medication does work to prevent you from drinking alcohol, it does not prevent withdrawal symptoms.
  • Naltrexone – blocks the euphoric effects and feelings of intoxication. This medication helps you reduce your drinking so you can stay motivated to remain in addiction treatment, avoid relapses, and continue taking your medication.

Combined with Behavioral Therapy

Medication assisted treatment is effective when these medications are used in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. Treatment can continue for the longer term. In fact, there has been research conducted that shows that patients on one of these types of medication assisted treatment for at least 1-2 years have the greatest rates of long-term success.

Behavioral therapy combined with medication can include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Group treatment is also often used to reinforce the addiction treatment. Support groups such as 12-Step program and other recovery groups will further help you gain insight and accountability as you progress through a successful recovery from drug or alcohol addiction.

Medication Assisted Treatment in Southern California

At Calming Goat, our approach is to heal the whole person. We start by addressing your physical dependence on drugs or alcohol and then work with you to heal your mind, body, and spirit. Our team of board-certified physicians is uniquely equipped to help you find recovery. We provide the types of medication assisted treatment you need, through a blend of medications and therapies, so you can experience true healing. Call (424) 376-3444 or contact us online to schedule your appointment today.

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