How does Buprenorphine work?
Like its predecessor methadone, buprenorphine can arrest the painful physical, mental and emotional symptoms withdrawal from opiates that make getting clean seem so impossible. But instead of proceeding to detox the new patient completely off of opiates, leaving him or her vulnerable to relapse, a good MAT program allows the patient to remain on buprenorphine while requiring that they participate in a formal program of education, therapy, health and fellowship.
How does Naltrexone work?
Naltrexone is an effective opiate blocker that makes using pointless and therefore totally unattractive. Naltrexone, especially when used in the form of a once a month injection (Vivitrol), is a great choice for the patient coming off of buprenorphine or who has chosen not to use buprenorphine or methadone at all. Naltrexone is also one of the only medications shown to help with alcohol addiction.
Common Questions about Buprenorphine
The experience of being on buprenorphine as a prescribed and carefully monitored medication is radically different using illegal drugs. It is true that, just like any opiate, a patient who uses buprenorphine for any length of time will become physically dependent and will suffer withdrawal symptoms that can be even more difficult than that caused by regular opiate dependence if suddenly stopped. But we use both the stabilizing effect of the medicine and the desire to avoid withdrawal as a way to motivate our patients to engage in the healthy and ultimately rewarding activities of recovery that can strengthen, inspire, and free the suffering addict.
Although the concepts behind methadone treatment and buprenorphine MAT are much the same, buprenorphine is generally safer, less likely to be abused and more conducive to outpatient therapy than methadone.
Not if we can help it. Buprenorphine and naltrexone are meant to be temporary supports that help stabilize and protect our patients from sinking deeper into addiction and all the destruction that comes with it. Our approach is to use the time and extra support that the medication gives to build in our patient’s the kind of recovery that will soon allow them to slowly, carefully, and with medical help, let go of it. We don’t rush and we don’t delay.
Interested in MAT?
Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is a physician lead approach to addiction treatment that utilizes specially categorized medication to make getting clean, staying clean easier.