Medication-Assisted Treatment

Overcoming alcohol or drug addiction can be terrifying. Once a person becomes dependent upon alcohol or a drug of choice, stopping such substances will cause withdrawal symptoms.  Drugs and substances will have different symptoms and timelines, depending on their particular interactions with the brain and body.

When going through treatment for co-occurring disorders involving substance abuse, you will first go through detox. Detoxing from alcohol or drug use can be difficult. If you are coupling it with overcoming a mental health disorder, it can make it a complicated process.  The symptoms of withdrawal are dependent upon whether the substance abuse involves alcohol or a drug. It also depends on the length of addiction.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms That Can be Eased with Medication Assisted Treatment

  • Heroin and prescription pain killers can cause flu-like withdrawal symptoms that can last an average of five days.
  • Detoxing from benzodiazepinesdrugs primarily used to treat anxietycan cause anxiety or seizures that can last weeks and in some extreme cases, months.
  • Cocaine withdrawal symptoms can cause depression and restlessness lasting seven to ten days.
  • Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol include tremors or seizures lasting three days to several weeks.

Going through withdrawal symptoms can be hard, and depending on the addiction and level of severity, your doctor or healthcare provider may suggest medication assisted treatment.  Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is when medications are used in conjunction with counseling and behavioral therapies. This method is useful in the treatment of opioid use disorders and can assist people with sustaining recovery.  The FDA has approved three drugs for opioid dependence:

  • Buprenorphine – used for the management of pain that is severe enough to require an opioid analgesic and when other treatments aren’t working.
  • Methadone – an opioid medication that reduces withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to narcotics without the “high” that is associated with drug addiction.
  • Naltrexone– an opioid antagonist that is a synthetic congener of oxymorphone without opioid agonist properties.  Naltrexone hydrochloride completely blocks, reversibly, the subjective effects of opioids that are intravenously administered.

All of these treatments have shown to be safe and effective when combined with counseling and psychosocial support.  If you are suffering from a mental health condition and a substance abuse disorder like an opioid, this called a dual-diagnosis or a co-occurring disorder.  When seeking treatment for co-occurring disorders, medications may be used in conjunction with therapy and other methods. At Sana Lake Recovery Center, our healthcare professionals have the resources to treat your mental health condition and substance addiction.

Two types of approved medications that can be used to treat co-occurring disorders are:

  • Vivitrol
  • Suboxone


Vivitrol intramuscular is a naltrexone product that is an extended-release injectable suspension.  To take Vivitrol, you must be free of opioid use for at least 7 to 14 days. This avoids the risk of a sudden opioid withdrawal.  When using Vivitrol as a part of a treatment plan combined with counseling, it can prevent relapse opioid dependence after opioid detox.

Some things to know about Vivitrol are:

  • It’s an opioid antagonist
  • It is HCP-administered
  • Injected once a month
  • To be used in combination with counseling
  • It’s non-addictive
  • Not a narcotic
  • Requires opioid detox

Common side effects of Vivitrol are:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Muscle or joint aches
  • Weakness
  • Insomnia
  • A decrease in sex drive
  • Impotence
  • Difficulty having an orgasm


Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) is a buprenorphine product that comes in the form of sublingual film for sublingual or buccal use, or as a sublingual tablet.  Buprenorphine is an ingredient in suboxone film. It is also known as a partial agonist. It attaches to the same receptors as other opioids and decreases their effects by blocking them from the same receptors.

Naloxone also blocks receptors that are activated by opioids.  If a patient is dependent on a full opioid agonist and attempts to inject suboxone film, the ingredient, naloxone, can cause withdrawal signs and symptoms.

Common side effects of suboxone are:

  • Mouth Numbness
  • Mouth Redness
  • Mouth Pain
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness or Tingling
  • Drowsiness
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach Pain
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Drunken Feeling
  • Inability to Concentrate


Using drugs or alcohol as an effort to alleviate symptoms of a mental health disorder can make symptoms worse and is the beginning of a vicious cycle of battling your mental health and addiction.

When in recovery for co-occurring disorders, involving a mental health disorder and substance abuse, you should be given a full range of options.  Treating both your mental health condition and alcohol or substance abuse disorder should be done at the same time and not independently. Your doctor or healthcare provider will approve all medication that is prescribed during your recovery, as well as provide supervision.  This allows for a safe environment while going through withdrawal symptoms and possible relapses.

Your first step in recovery when treating a co-occurring disorder involving alcohol or drug addiction is to detox.  When using a drug like Vivitrol, opioid detox is required before the drug can be administered. You should see this as starting on a clean slate, so as not to interfere with treatment for a mental health condition.

If you or your loved one would like to seek treatment for a mental health condition and substance abuse, take the first step today by contacting us here.

Read more about our treatment options for co-occurring disorders and learn about our rehabilitation center by checking out our website.

Our facility has multiple options and therapy methods for your path to recovery.  We can put you on a customized plan that can include medication assisted treatment that will lead to a more fulfilling life.

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