Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-Assisted Treatment

For people struggling with substance use disorder (SUD), Valley Health Partners (VHP) can offer help and hope.

SUD can affect anyone. It occurs with long-term use of alcohol or other addictive substances (drugs) and can cause social, academic and employment issues. It also can affect mental and physical health. A total of 23.5 million people in the United States are in long-term recovery from SUD.

A successful recovery involves medical, behavioral and recovery support from qualified clinicians. To treat SUD, VHP offers counseling and medication for addiction treatment to help in the recovery process.

Medication for addiction treatment (MAT) is a well-tested combination of medications and counseling for SUD treatment. First, learn more about SUD.

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Medication-Assisted Treatment

FAQs About SUD

What is substance use disorder?

Substance use disorder (SUD) affects a person’s brain and behavior. It can lead to uncontrolled use of legal or illegal substances. 

How can SUD affect someone’s daily life?

Over time, someone struggling with SUD will spend more effort and money on addictive substances. This can severely disrupt daily life. Because of the changes in the brain, a person with SUD will keep using even though bad things happen as a result.

How can SUD affect others?

When someone is struggling with SUD, even people close to them can view them negatively. It can be hard to be around someone who can’t control their use. This makes the struggle with SUD much worse and can prevent them from getting treatment.

What We Can Do to Help

We believe strong social support helps with a successful recovery. We promote self-worth and self-respect, in addition to connecting those struggling with SUD to a supportive community.

We use positive language. All patients are treated with respect and dignity. At all times, healing from the pain of substance use disorders is our focus.

We use a holistic approach to recovery. VHP respects each patient’s goals. Getting help through counseling for SUD and/or taking medication for addiction treatment can assist in recovery. Our staff works together to encourage health, wellness and purpose.

You can read more about VHP’s medications for addiction treatment below.

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Valley Health Partners pregnancy and well woman care

Medication for Addiction Treatment

Medication for addiction treatment (MAT) is the combination of medication and counseling or peer support. Some individuals take these medications long-term, while others take them for about a year. There are medications that can help with opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder.

Why take prescribed medications to treat SUD?

Medications help take the focus off cravings and withdrawal so that people in recovery can work on rebuilding their lives without drugs. People who take medications are less likely to go back to using drugs.

Who prescribes the medications?

Educated clinicians, focused on providing “whole-patient care,” prescribe medication. They are trained to pay attention to the medical conditions, psychiatric conditions and any substance use concerns a patient may have.

How long does MAT last?

People can take medication as long as they believe it is helping their recovery. Clinicians work with patients to make an appropriate plan when patients are ready to stop taking the medication.

Can a pregnant woman use medication for SUD?

MAT is safe for pregnant women and helps prevent serious problems related to drug use like infections or overdose that can threaten the life of mom and baby. We have specialized providers and an outreach team dedicated to the care of women who use drugs or struggle with SUD during pregnancy.

Medications for Opioid Use Disorder at VHP

Those interested in entering a MAT program should see one of our providers who is trained to prescribe this medication. While patients are receiving MAT in one of our practices, our team will help ensure they are connected to counseling and peer support. 

Descriptions of some of these medications are below.

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine acts at the opioid receptor. Putting it another way, it works at the same place in the brain where opioids attach. Buprenorphine occupies the place of the opioid receptor with one difference – it does not provide a high. Instead, withdrawal and cravings are lessened.

What is the process to start taking buprenorphine?

It is important that the person starting buprenorphine has not recently used an opioid or must be in opioid withdrawal, which feels like having the flu. The prescribing provider will guide a person through this process. Once the person starts taking buprenorphine, these symptoms improve. Sometimes, medicines that help marginalize the flu-like opioid withdrawal symptoms will be prescribed.

What if I have a painful surgery when I am taking buprenorphine?

We recommend a person continue taking buprenorphine before, during and after surgery. If required, opioids can be given for pain along with buprenorphine.

Naltrexone

Naltrexone acts at the opioid receptor. It works in the place where opioids work – like a key into a lock. When an opioid acts at the receptor, the person feels the effects of that opioid, such as pain relief or a “high.” Naltrexone fits into that same lock but does not provide a “high.” Instead, it blocks the receptor, so if the person takes an opioid, it will not have an effect.

Are there requirements before someone starts naltrexone treatment?

Given that naltrexone blocks the opioid receptor, it is important the individual starting the treatment has abstained from opioid use for at least seven days. Medication that assists with the flu-like symptoms of opioid withdrawal will sometimes be prescribed to help a person abstain from using opioids for seven days before starting the naltrexone.

Does naltrexone help treat other disorders beside opioid use?

Yes, naltrexone can be used to treat alcohol use disorder. That’s because a separate effect of the medicine is reducing the pleasurable “high” of drinking alcohol. Unlike using naltrexone for opioid use disorder, when the drug is prescribed for alcohol use disorder, it is safe to begin the naltrexone treatment while the person is still consuming alcohol. That’s because naltrexone can help the person diminish alcohol use.

How does someone take naltrexone?

Naltrexone can be taken once daily as a swallowed pill, or once monthly as an injection in the buttocks area.

What if I have a surgery or procedure scheduled while taking naltrexone?

If someone is scheduled for a painful procedure such as a surgery, when possible, naltrexone usage is ceased before surgery to allow opioids to be given, if needed.

Is it dangerous to increase opioid use to overcome naltrexone’s effect?

Yes. Some people attempt to consume extra opioids to overcome the blocking effect of naltrexone. This could be very dangerous and has resulted in overdose death.

Methadone

Some people need methadone. We will help anyone interested in methadone treatment get care at a licensed methadone program.

Locations for MAT

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Women's Health icon

VHP-Center for Women's Medicine

1627 Chew Street
1st Floor
Allentown, PA 18102-3648

Phone:
610-402-1600
After Hours Phone:
610-402-1600

Fax:

610-969-2197
Location Hours
Day Time slot Comment
Monday: 7:30 am-5:30 pm
Tuesday: 7:30 am-6:30 pm
Wednesday: 7:30 am-5:30 pm
Thursday: 7:30 am-6:30 pm
Friday: 7:30 am-5:00 pm
Saturday - Sunday: Closed
Comprehensive health care for women and adolescent girls, including specialists who help with high-risk pregnancies, depression and more.
Valley Health Partners
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Family Medicine icon

VHP-Family Health Center

400 N 17th St
Ste 300
Allentown, PA 18104-5052

Phone:
610-969-3500
After Hours Phone:
610-969-3500

Fax:

610-969-3605
Location Hours
Day Time slot Comment
Monday - Wednesday: 8:00 am-5:00 pm
Thursday: 8:00 am-7:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am-5:00 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am-12:00 pm
Sunday: Closed
Community-based family medicine with an emphasis on improving and maintaining health for patients who are well, as well as those with chronic diseases.
Valley Health Partners