Lifeline Connections

Medication Assisted Recovery is Gaining Traction

Medication assisted recovery (MAR) is a method used to help those suffering from substance use disorders by combining the usage of FDA-approved medications and therapies, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This method of treatment has been shown to improve overall treatment prognosis and reduces the incidence of relapses and cravings. With the opioid crisis, medication assisted recovery has been discussed more frequently by the public. Since relapses are a common occurrence when struggling with substance use disorders, medication assisted recovery is important in curbing these potential relapses and decreasing their incidences. Medication assisted treatments are not only relevant for the opioid crisis, which is often talked about, but also with other substance use disorders such as tobacco and alcohol. What is medication assisted recovery?

Opioid Use Disorder
Recently, the use of medication assisted recovery and treatment has been considered for the opioid crisis. When looking at different methods for medication assisted recovery for substance use disorders, it is important to consider how different substances interact with the brain. For example, opioids work by interacting with our reward system. This means that they enter directly into our brains and interact with opioid receptors by taking the place of natural chemicals and neurotransmitters. This elicits the immediate feeling of euphoria and highs that is often associated with various opioids. However, doctors can safely prescribe drugs to people in treatment that are similar to opiates, like buprenorphine , because they are absorbed by the body at a much slower rate and allow a severing of the link between the usage of opioids and highs.

These drugs also have the ability to stave off withdrawal symptoms, which helps in preventing relapses. Another option for medicated assisted recovery are drugs known as opioid antagonists, which blocks the opioid receptors in the brain, reducing the effects of the opioids.

Tobacco Use Disorder
There are several forms of medication assisted therapy that have been developed for tobacco over the years, including sprays, gums, patches, and lozenges that help people with cessation. These are all components of nicotine replacement therapy that deliver nicotine into an individual’s system, decreasing withdrawals and cravings; patches eventually deliver smaller batches of nicotine helping someone decrease their doses of nicotine and quit. This is one example of how successful that medication assisted recovery can be. For people with tobacco use disorder, nicotine replacement therapy helped increase quit rates to 50-70% and helped decrease withdrawal symptoms.

Alcohol Use Disorder
Various kinds of medications are also used to help people suffering from alcohol use disorder. Similar to the mechanism of opioid abuse, naltrexone is one of the antagonists that are prescribed to help those struggling with alcohol dependence. While medications are helpful with cravings and withdrawal symptoms, key factors that can influence relapse, there is a lot of work that people with substance use disorders have to put into battling their substance use disorder. This usually includes some kind of behavioral therapy to supplement the medication assisted recovery.

Medication assisted recovery allows people to take back control of their life. It allows people to go back to work and start living their lives normally again. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, please feel free to contact the professional team at Lifeline Connections for help!

Getting yourself help, whether it is through self-help or by reaching out to professionals is an important part of recognizing that you are struggling and is a good step forward to get the help that you need. You can visit or call 360.397.8246 for more information.

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