Five people die from opioid overdose in Arizona every day according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. Almost twice as many experience non-fatal drug overdoses. Sadly, the nationwide opioid crisis claims 136 lives per day; accounting for more than 70% of all drug abuse related deaths.
With 1.27 million Americans now receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT), this method has the potential to change the course of the opioid crisis. Over the past few years, community health centers, like NOAH, have seen an increase of almost 150% in patients receiving MAT for opioid use disorders, but death rates continue to rise. Help us spread the word; talk about it with your friends and family. You never know whose life you might save.
In recognition of National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week, Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Connie Tucker answers the most common questions about NOAH’s MAT option to treat opioid use disorders.
Q: What is MAT?
A: Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medication, in combination with behavioral therapy like counseling to treat substance abuse disorders. NOAH uses MAT specifically for the treatment of the use of opioids including heroin, morphine, codeine, fentanyl, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.
Q: What are the symptoms of opioid use disorder?
A: Symptoms of opioid use disorder include:
- Withdrawal (excessive sweating, shaking, feeling nervous)
- Weight loss
- Using medication that is not prescribed to you
- Using medication outside of the directions given on the prescription
- Buying street drugs to stop the cravings
Q: What type of medication does NOAH prescribe for MAT therapy?
A: Suboxone, which is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone.
Q: How does it work?
A: Suboxone stops the opioid cravings and prevents the side effects of withdrawal.
Q: How long does treatment take?
A: Most patients feel better less than one week after beginning the medication. There are many factors that affect the length of treatment; some people may complete treatment in a few months where others may take a year or longer.
Q: Can I get addicted to Suboxone?
A: Addiction to Suboxone is highly unlikely. It is important that anyone on a MAT program use it as directed by your medical provider.
Q: Will Suboxone make me feel sick?
A: Not if you use it as directed by your medical provider.
Q: Do I have to see a behavioral health provider?
A: It is not necessary. You can see either a medical or behavioral health provider who has been trained to prescribe Suboxone. NOAH recommends scheduling regular appointments with a behavioral health provider in conjunction with taking Suboxone for the best long-term results.
Q: How much does it cost?
A: Suboxone is typically covered by insurance and you would just be responsible for the regular co-pay. It comes in a brand name and generic (buprenorphine and naloxone) option which is very affordable on a cash-pay plan as well.
Q: How successful is MAT and Suboxone?
A: It is very successful. Most patients feel better in one week and do not have any cravings after one month.
Q: Why does NOAH offer this treatment option to patients?
A: At NOAH, we believe that an important part of whole person care involves offering all methods of treatment to help patients with a substance use disorder in an unbiased way. MAT also provides an option for treatment for patients who are unable to commit to other formal rehab programs.
Q: How do I know if MAT is right for me?
A: Ask a medical or behavioral health provider if MAT is right for you. Most patients feel it is time to make a change when their opioid use is taking over a lot of what they are thinking about or doing everyday.
To make an appointment to discuss substance abuse disorder questions, or to see if MAT is right for you or a loved one, request an appointment online or by calling 480-882-4545.