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Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic, relapsing brain disease affecting millions worldwide. It can significantly impact physical and mental health, relationships, and overall quality of life. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a comprehensive approach to treating AUD that combines medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to address the physical, emotional, and social aspects of the disease.
This article will discuss the different aspects of MAT for AUD, including evaluation and assessment, choosing the right medication, dosage, and administration, potential side effects, monitoring progress, combining medications with other forms of treatment, and adjusting medication.
Evaluation and Assessment
When it comes to treating alcohol use disorder, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a comprehensive approach that has been shown to be highly effective. MAT for alcohol use disorder involves the use of medications, combined with counseling and behavioral therapies, to help individuals overcome alcohol addiction.
The first step in MAT is evaluation and assessment. A healthcare professional will conduct a thorough evaluation to determine the severity of the individual’s alcohol use disorder and assess their physical and mental health. This evaluation includes a comprehensive medical history, a physical examination, and a review of any medications or supplements the individual is currently taking.
In addition to medical evaluation, a psychological evaluation is also conducted to identify any underlying mental health conditions that may be contributing to alcohol addiction. This can include depression, anxiety, or trauma-related disorders.
Once the evaluation is complete, the healthcare professional will work with the individual to create a treatment plan tailored to their specific needs.
Choosing the Right Medication
The next step in MAT for alcohol use disorder is choosing the right medication. The medication chosen depends on the individual’s specific needs, including the severity of their alcohol addiction, their physical health, and any underlying mental health conditions.
The most commonly used medications in MAT for alcohol use disorder are acamprosate, naltrexone, and disulfiram. Each medication works differently and has its own set of benefits and potential side effects.
Acamprosate helps reduce cravings for alcohol and ease symptoms of withdrawal. Naltrexone blocks the effects of alcohol, reducing the pleasurable effects of drinking and helping to prevent relapse. Disulfiram works by making the individual sick if they consume alcohol, helping to create a negative association with alcohol.
Dosage and Administration
The dosage and administration of MAT for AUD depend on the medication used and the patient’s individual needs. Naltrexone is typically administered orally, with a starting dose of 25 mg per day, which can be increased to 50 mg per day. Acamprosate is also administered orally, with a recommended dosage of two tablets thrice daily. Disulfiram is usually administered as a tablet, with a starting dose of 250 mg daily, which can be increased to 500 mg daily.
Potential Side Effects of Medications Used in MAT
Like any medication used in MAT for alcohol use disorder can have potential side effects. The side effects vary depending on the medication used and the individual’s unique physiology.
Common side effects of acamprosate include diarrhea, nausea, and itching. Naltrexone can cause headaches, nausea, and fatigue. Disulfiram can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.
It is important to discuss potential side effects with a healthcare professional before starting any medication and to report any side effects experienced during treatment.
Regular monitoring is essential to ensure that the medications used in MAT for AUD are working effectively and that any side effects are being managed appropriately. Patients should be monitored for signs of relapse, such as cravings or increased alcohol consumption, and provided with ongoing counseling and support. In some cases, additional medication adjustments may be necessary to achieve the desired treatment outcomes.
Combining Medications with Other Forms of Treatment
MAT is most effective when combined with counseling and behavioral therapies. This combination approach addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of alcohol addiction.
Counseling and behavioral therapies can include individual therapy, group therapy, and family therapy. These therapies help individuals learn coping skills and strategies to overcome triggers and prevent relapse.
As the individual progresses through treatment, the healthcare professional may adjust the medication dosage or administration schedule to better meet their needs. It is important to continue regular check-ins with a healthcare professional to ensure the treatment remains effective and make any necessary adjustments.
MAT is a comprehensive approach to treating alcohol use disorder that has been shown to be highly effective. It involves the use of medications, combined with counseling and behavioral therapies, to help individuals overcome alcohol addiction.
The first step in MAT is evaluation and assessment, followed by choosing the right medication, determining the appropriate dosage and administration schedule, monitoring progress, and adjusting medication as necessary. By following this approach, individuals can achieve successful outcomes in their recovery from alcohol addiction.
If you are looking for a trusted and reliable provider, Confidant Health is here. Confidant Health is an app for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for alcohol use disorder. They offer confidential and discreet access to expert help 24/7. You are guaranteed to receive a safe, secure way to get the support you need to overcome alcohol addiction.