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What Is MAT For Alcohol Addiction?

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) uses medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to implement a “whole-patient” approach to treating substance use disorders, including alcoholism.  It is also essential to address other health conditions during treatment.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved numerous medications to treat alcohol and opioid use disorders.  MAT for alcohol addiction alleviates the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body.  Medications used for MAT are evidence-based treatment options and do not just substitute one drug for another.  [1]

The majority of adults in the United States drink alcohol at least once in their lives.  However, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH)  [2]  reports that nearly 16 million adults and adolescents develop a dependence or addiction to alcohol.  In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes excessive drinking as:

  • Binge drinking/consuming 4 or 5 servings of alcohol in two hours or less
  • Heavy drinking/consuming 1-2 servings of alcohol per day or between 7-14 servings of alcohol per week
  • Alcohol use disorder is signified by periods of binge and heavy drinking and physical dependence on alcohol, cravings, drinking more to achieve the desired effect, and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you do not consume alcohol

Binge or heavy drinking often leads to physical dependence.  In addition, it is an early indication that alcohol use disorder has developed.  Many people who suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD) often demand individualized behavioral and medical approaches to keep sobriety.  However, alcohol withdrawal can trigger severe and probably fatal symptoms, so MAT is a healthy and secure alternative to traditional treatment methods for alcohol addiction.

 When the use of alcohol ends, the addiction withdrawals begin. MAT for alcohol addiction is crucial in ensuring the withdrawal is manageable and reaches completion as well as that it does not become dangerous and life-threatening.
When the use of alcohol ends, the addiction withdrawals begin. MAT for alcohol addiction is crucial in ensuring the withdrawal is manageable and reaches completion as well as that it does not become dangerous and life-threatening.
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MAT For Alcohol Addiction & Medications Options

Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are the most common drugs used to treat alcoholism.  They do not grant a cure for the condition but are most helpful in participating in a MAT program.

  • Acamprosate is for people in recovery who no longer drink alcohol and want to avoid drinking.  It deters people from drinking alcohol, but it does not prevent withdrawal symptoms after people drink alcohol.  It has not been shown to work in people who remain drinking alcohol, consumes illicit drugs, and/or engage in prescription drug misuse and abuse.  Acamprosate typically starts on the fifth day of abstinence, reaching full effectiveness in five to eight days.  It is offered in tablet form and taken three times a day, preferably at the same time every day.  The medication’s side effects may include diarrhea, upset stomach, appetite loss, anxiety, dizziness, and difficulty sleeping.
  • Disulfiram treats chronic alcoholism and is most efficient in people who have already undergone detoxification or are in the initial stage of abstinence.  Offered in a tablet form and taken once a day, disulfiram should never be taken while intoxicated, and it should not be taken for at least 12 hours after drinking alcohol.  Unpleasant side effects (nausea, headache, vomiting, chest pains, difficulty breathing) can happen as soon as ten minutes after drinking even a small amount of alcohol.  They can persist for an hour or more.
  • Naltrexone obstructs the euphoric effects and feelings of intoxication.  It allows people with alcohol use disorders to diminish alcohol use and to remain motivated to continue to take the medication, stay in treatment, and avoid relapses.

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Counseling & Behavioral Therapies With MAT For Alcohol Addiction

Psychological Treatment for Alcohol Addiction: When your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, you’re considered legally impaired in the U.S. While you are certain to be arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) when your BAC is at or over 0.08%, you can still be charged if your BAC is at any level above 0.00%.

The coexistence of alcoholism and a mental illness, known as a co-occurring disorder, is common among people in MAT.  In addition, individuals may have other health-related conditions such as hepatitis, HIV, and AIDS.

Given that, regardless of what setting MAT is provided in, it is more effective when counseling and other behavioral health therapies are incorporated to provide individuals with a whole-person approach.

Counseling and aftercare support approach helps many of our mental and emotional challenges.  Then, the medications used for addiction treatment or substance abuse can support breaking the chains of physical dependence, helping to ease the difficult withdrawal periods, and managing any other medical or mental health issues that may have been left untreated.

MAT For Alcohol Addiction Effectiveness

In 2018, approximately 2 million people had an opioid use disorder, including prescription pain medication containing opiates and heroin.

MAT has proved to be clinically competent and significantly decreased the need for inpatient detoxification services for these individuals.  In addition, MAT for alcohol addiction provides a more comprehensive, individually tailored medication and behavioral therapy program that addresses the needs of most individuals with alcoholism.

The ultimate goal of MAT is full recovery, including the ability to live a self-directed life.  This treatment approach has been attested to:

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Lessen illegal opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increase patients’ ability to secure and maintain employment
  • Improve birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant

Research also shows that these medications and therapies can lower a person’s risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C by reducing the potential for relapse.

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Managing Withdrawal Symptoms & Treating Dual Diagnosis With MAT For Alcohol Addiction

MAT for alcohol addiction may address the co-occurring disorders and alleviate their symptoms in the process of getting into lifelong recovery.
MAT for alcohol addiction may address the co-occurring disorders and alleviate their symptoms in the process of getting into lifelong recovery.

Here at We Level Up NJ, our comprehensive team prescribing medications can alleviate your withdrawal pains while monitoring your health 24 hours during detox and MAT for alcohol addiction.  Thus, we are assuring both your safety and comfort.  Once detox is complete, you will be in our residential level of care.  Our residential care program slowly and effectively introduces the individual to an atmosphere of therapeutic growth.  Marked by master’s level therapists, clinicians, group counselors, psychiatrists, and a community of like-minded individuals with the same aim: to attain sobriety and live a great life.

Taking MAT for alcohol addiction is like taking medication to treat any other medical condition. It is not substituting one drug for another.  Properly used medication does not create a new obsession.
Taking MAT for alcohol addiction is like taking medication to treat any other medical condition. It is not substituting one drug for another.  Properly used medication does not create a new obsession.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol disorder works in combination with counseling and behavior therapies; it uses medication to treat alcohol use disorder and sustain recovery.  [3] Medication can help to:

  • Regain a stable state of mind, free from alcohol-induced highs and lows
  • Provide freedom from thinking about alcohol all the time
  • Reduce problems of craving
  • Focus on lifestyle changes that lead back to healthy living

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Breaking an addiction is vital to achieving a healthier life and a stronger mind.  We have seen this breaking of said addiction being the essential part of anyone’s recovery.  Although not everyone who detoxes from drugs will encounter dangerous withdrawal symptoms, it is never an easy process.  For instance, alcohol and benzo withdrawal are the most severe, particularly in combination.  Therefore, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in our time-honored and effective setting will reduce the pressure and anxiety that comes with the first few days of the process and heavily increase the possibility of avoiding relapse.

Our compassionate team proactively manages clients in ways to stay focused on their goals for sobriety and recovery.  Our approach at We Level Up NJ Treatment is holistic because we provide a comprehensive experience.  This life-changing experience addresses clients’ physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional health & wellbeing.  If needed, we provide over-the-counter medication, as well as short-term prescriptions for substances including Suboxone, Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram.  These medications can manage the more drastic side effects, symptoms, and cravings that present during detox.  But, above all, this is all a part of our team’s role in relapse prevention.

Call us at We Level Up NJ today if you want to take the first step toward sobriety with MAT for alcohol addiction.

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[1] MAT Medications, Counseling, and Related Conditions – National Institute On Drug Abuse

[2] Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder – National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

[3] We Level Up – Treatment » Medication Assisted Treatment for Alcohol