What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
When we use opiates, like heroin or oxycodone, for a long period of time, especially at levels in which we develop cravings and addictive behavior, our brains lose the ability to make enough dopamine to sustain normal function. That is why you’ve probably tried to stop, and had the best of intentions, but found it too difficult because the withdrawal was too painful and all you could think about was ending these symptoms with another dose of opiates. This is why heroin addiction is SO powerful.
Dopamine is a reward pathway in the brain. We get a dopamine surge from food or sex, for example. These are things we and our species need to survive, so that reward is a good thing. With long-term opiate abuse, however, our brains become dependent on the opiates we’re taking in order to give us just normal levels of dopamine.
Medication-assisted treatment involves using a drug, like Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone, or "Subs"), to stabilize the dopamine production. That allows our clients to begin feeling normal, and normal is something they have not felt in a long, long time.
But, since buprenorphine is an opiate, isn’t that just trading one drug for another? Well, yes and no. You see, the reason addiction is so devastating is because of the addictive behavior. It’s the constant need to lie about drugs, get drugs, crave drugs, needing more and higher doses of drugs, and stealing for drugs (you get the picture) that causes huge losses for the addict and his or her family and friends. Anyone who has seen the heroin epidemic has witnessed this. When clients are taking a single dose of buprenorphine once a day, and their dopamine levels are not elevated or depressed, the drug seeking and drug craving comes to an end.
Buprenorphine is what is called a partial agonist, meaning it binds to opiate receptors in the brain but it does not fully engage them. In fact, it blocks them from being tied up by other opiates like heroin and oycodone. With buprenorphine there is a ceiling effect to any respiratory depression or sedation, meaning taking more of the drug does not cause sedation and breathing problems.
The success of buprenoprhine in treating opiate addiction is well-documented. We believe that once the cycle of use, shame, quitting, and relapse comes to an end, our clients can begin to address those things in their lives that lead to the path of addiction to begin with.
We are conveniently located just south of Indianapolis in Greenwood, Indiana:
Appointments are available days, evenings and weekends. Give us a call at 317.300.4091, email us at , or schedule an appoinment online.