Substance Dependence/ Medication-Assisted Treatment in Billerica and Lowell
We offer medication-assisted treatment for our patients with substance dependence issues. In addition, we have a network of local mental health providers who can provide supplementary therapy and medication management, adjunct to treatment by primary care providers.
What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is an approach to treating individuals with substance abuse struggles using a combination of behavioral therapy and prescription medications. At Joshi Medical Services, our providers often refer to the MAT guidelines set forth by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to help our patients overcome their opioid addictions.
The Food and Drug Administration also has many guidelines in place on how individuals with an opioid addiction should be treated. Since this type of addiction frequently involves the abuse of prescribed medications, it is important for the FDA to closely monitor what types of medications can and cannot be prescribed by treatment specialists like Dr. Joshi.
Buprenorphine is widely used by physicians and practitioners around the country as a treatment for opioid dependency. This particular medication is also part of several different SAMHSA-certified treatment programs, and is also utilized within various other addiction treatment products, such as:
Each of these unique compounds is designed to mimic the euphoric effects that individuals can receive after taking opioids. The effect from buprenorphine products is much more minimal, and so its weaker dosage helps to wean patients off of their dependence on opioids. This medication also helps to lessen the impact of withdrawal that patients will experience when they stop taking opioids, which can reduce fear and anxiety that individuals can have regarding this specific hurdle in their journey of recovery.
Naloxone is another drug that opioid abusers are often familiar with. Naloxone is also commonly referred to by brand names NARCAN and EVIZO. This medication is used specifically during an opioid overdose, as it can rapidly reverse this process and immediately block the effects of the opioids in order to save the person’s life. Naloxone injections or nasal sprays can also be used to reverse an overdose of heroin.
The buprenorphine product Suboxone that has already mentioned also contains naloxone. This particular medication was created to discourage patients from abusing buprenorphine medications for their euphoric effects, and to thus help improve the safety of using these drugs to treat individuals who are addicted to opioids.
Similar to buprenorphine, methadone is another type of opioid antagonist that can be prescribed as part of a patient’s MAT program. Each patient is uniquely different, and so their methadone dosage will need to be tailored specifically to them in order to best meet their needs. Methadone is extremely safe and effective when taken as prescribed, though it is possible to overdose on this medication, which is why patients are required to take methadone under direct supervision of their provider until they reach a state of stability with their dosage.
Combining MAT with Counseling
Several studies have shown that utilizing medications along with regular therapy appointments can help patients achieve long lasting success in their recovery from opioids. This portion of the treatment process is mandated under federal law for patients that are involved in a MAT program due to the substantial role that these support services play in the patient’s recovery.
When implemented as part of the MAT approach, counseling and behavioral therapy has proven to:
- Increase retention in the program
- Improve the patient’s odds of survival
- Decrease relapses of opiate use and other illicit substances
- Improve the person’s odds of maintaining gainful employment
- Increase a pregnant patient’s chances of completing a healthy birth
Schedule a Medication-Assisted Treatment Consultation
If you or someone that you love is struggling with substance dependence, we encourage you to schedule an appointment today! Dr. Ashok Joshi has over 25 years of experience in private practice providing care for patients with substance-dependance issues as a primary care physician. Call our Billerica primary care clinic at (978) 670-1300 or our Lowell clinic at (978) 454-9703. You can also request an appointment online through our secure form.