How Effective Is Medication-Assisted Treatment with Suboxone?


Created On: Monday, 21, October 2019
Modified On: Friday, 15, November 2019

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 2.5 million Americans suffered from an opioid use disorder in 2014. This contributed to well over 28,000 overdose death in that same year. In 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO) described methadone and buprenorphine as necessary medicines to treat opioid addiction. According to a study done by NIDA, medications such as these should be combined with effective counseling and therapy. Medication-assisted treatment should be part of a whole treatment approach. Per the National Institute on Drug Abuse, MAT started to decrease opioid use, opioid-related overdose deaths, and criminal activity. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration approved a once-monthly buprenorphine injection for moderate to severe opioid use disorders. The Journal of Addiction Medicine published an article in 2011 talking about the use of medication-assisted treatment. It reported that less than one-half of the private drug rehab centers offered MAT, and around one-third of the patients with opioid addiction received it. In 2002, 35% of opioid addicts going to treatment received medication, and in 2012, this dropped to 28%. The American Public Health Association (AJPH) reported in 2015 that most states do not have the treatment capacity to offer medication-assisted treatment to every patient.

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As of 2019, there has been an increase in opioid treatment programs in an effort to combat the opioid epidemic. Some opioid addicts have success through medication-assisted treatment, whereas others do not and struggle with a dependency on the medication they are taking. It can be frustrating for some families who see this as substituting one drug for another drug. Opioid addiction is one of the more difficult drug problems to treat. In 2014, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that nearly 80 of opioid addicts do not receive treatment. The purpose of the medication is to reduce opioid cravings, yet it is still important to end up drug-free when treatment is complete. For many inpatient drug rehab centers who use MAT, they will often detox the patient off the drug when they finish treatment. Outpatient drug rehab centers would have to taper the patient off the drug, which may have to be managed by a detox during the final push to get off it. Ultimately, drug addiction benefits from counseling, and therapy that a patient can apply to his or her life. Medications prolong help opioid addicts manage withdrawal symptoms, but it should not be considered a long-term solution.