Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-Assisted Treatment

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

SUD can ensnare anyone and is all but certain to diminish a person’s life quality. SUD occurs when long-term exposure to substances such as alcohol or other potentially addictive substances (drugs) leads to social, academic or occupational impairment, and compromises your mental and physical health. A total of 23.5 million people across the United States are in long-term recovery from SUD.

That recovery manifests through a multidisciplined approach. It involves medical, behavioral and recovery support from qualified health care professionals. To treat these disorders, VHP offers counseling and/or medication for addiction treatment to help in the recovery process.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications in combination with evidence-based counseling and behavioral therapies for SUD treatment. First, learn more about SUDs.

Collectively, this approach promotes recovery from substance use disorder. Some individuals take these medications on a long-term basis, while others take them for a few months.

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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 subsequently his/her behavior. Ultimately it can lead to a person who is unable to control the use of substances such as legal or illegal drugs.

How does SUD lead to addiction?

The use of addictive substances alters your brain’s reward system. As a result of addictive substances, a person will be less inclined to feel pleasure from anything besides a drug or alcohol.

What impact can this have on me?

A person then spends more and more time, effort and money to acquire more of the addictive substance your brain now craves and requires. As a result, this can drastically disrupt a person’s daily activities.

Can this condition cause others to stigmatize me?

Yes. When you struggle with SUD, even people you know well can view you differently. Often, this view is negative. This further adds to the person suffering from SUD’s torment. Being stigmatized as an alcoholic or addict can prevent a person from seeking treatment.

What We Can Do to Help

What principles are hallmarks of VHP’s recovery efforts?

We believe social support and social inclusion are factors to a successful recovery from addiction. We encourage and promote self-worth and self-respect, in addition to helping someone struggling with SUD to feel part of a community.

How do you help change a patient’s negative mindset?

We immediately work to reduce stigma within you by utilizing positive, person-first language. All patients are treated with respect and dignity. At all times, your recovery is our primary focus.

How does VHP utilize a holistic approach to my recovery?

Our organization will work with you by respecting your goals and agendas. Our staff works collectively to ensure a life of health, wellness and purpose.

What are other aspects of my recovery process?

Getting help through counseling for SUD and/or taking medication for addiction treatment can assist your recovery. Read more about VHP’s medication-assisted treatment below.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the combination of medication and counseling or peer support. Collectively, this approach promotes recovery from substance use disorder.

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MAT FAQs

Why would I take prescribed medications to treat SUD?

Prescribed by a medical expert, medications can benefit a person in recovery. These medications can prevent withdrawal, reduce cravings for substances, and help in avoiding the harmful cycle of substance use.

Who prescribes the medications?

Educated health care providers, focused on providing “whole-patient care,” prescribe medication. Their training includes attention to any medical conditions, psychiatric conditions and substance use concerns an individual may have.

For what duration would I receive the medication?

Should MAT become an aspect of the recovery process, those with a substance disorder will take the medication as long as they believe it is helping. Providers work with patients to make an appropriate plan when patients are ready for discontinuation.

Can a pregnant woman use medication for SUD?

MAT should be utilized by pregnant women with SUD, as the risks of illicit drugs are much riskier to mom and baby than the risk of MAT alone. We have specialized providers and an outreach team dedicated to the care of these women.

Medications

Medications can positively impact some individuals’ recovery efforts. Instead of using harmful substances, a person in recovery can take a medication to prevent withdrawal, reduce cravings for substances, and to avoid the harmful cycle of substance abuse.

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

A description of some of these medications is 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.

Locations for MAT

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Women's Health icon

VHP-Center for Women's Medicine

1627 Chew Street
Ste Cwm
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