Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder Can Be Highly Effective

By John V. Chisholm III, MD
Department of Family Practice
Board-certified in Addiction Medicine

The United States has been in the midst of an opioid epidemic for a number of years. People from all walks of life have been affected by addiction to opioids (known as opioid use disorder). Doctors and other medical professionals now recognize opioid use disorder as a chronic disease with long-lasting effects. One of the best ways to treat opioid use disorder is with medication-assisted treatment in combination with counseling and behavioral therapy. Reliant Medical Group is committed to helping people overcome opioid use disorder and providing the latest and most comprehensive treatment options. Reliant’s expertise with medication-assisted treatment has helped many patients turn the corner and be successful in recovering from their addiction.

Addiction can happen easily and is difficult to stop.

Even temporary opioid use (such as from a prescription) can change the brain in ways that can lead to addiction. A person who is addicted develops an overpowering urge, or craving, for opioids. Even when that person knows the drug use is harmful, they cannot control their urges. Without professional help, most people who are addicted to opioids will not be able to stop their addiction.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is often essential to recovery.

There are currently three medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid dependence: buprenorphine, naltrexone and methadone. All three of these medications have been demonstrated to be safe and effective in combination with counseling and other support. Buprenorphine (e.g. Suboxone), and methadone, primarily relieve the withdrawal symptoms (how the body reacts when opioid use is stopped) and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. Naltrexone primarily blocks the effects of opioids, and is a convenient once monthly injection. Patients tend to do best in recovery when they combine medications for opioid use disorder with behavioral interventions. These medications are safe to use for months and even years. Some patients may require them for a lifetime.

When taken under a doctor’s instruction and supervision, medication to treat opioid addiction is similar to taking medication to treat any other chronic disease, such as diabetes or asthma. MAT has been the key to help many people overcome their addiction to opioids, and has worked when other treatments have failed.

If you have developed a problem with opioids or other addictive substances, I strongly encourage you to talk to your primary care provider about your problem. We have more tools than ever before to help people overcome their struggle with addiction. Proper treatment can change lives, not just for the person addicted, but those they love and care about too.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder Can Be Highly Effective

About John V. Chisholm III, MD

Although he started his career in environmental consulting and industrial hygiene, Dr. John V. Chisholm III decided going to medical school and becoming a family medicine physician would suit him best. “I remember answering people’s questions about their long-term health and that really sparked an interest for me in pursuing a career in family medicine and preventative medicine,” he explains.

At Reliant Dr. Chisholm sees adults...

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