Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

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Medication Assisted Treatment
Making Withdrawal Comfortable

Are you considering a medication assisted treatment (MAT) to detox or stay off drugs or alcohol?

At Guardian Recovery, we understand how agonizing withdrawal can be. We know the cycle: You desperately want to quit using or drinking. You try with every ounce of your willpower to not use or drink — even for just one day. You try with all your might. But then, about six to 12 hours after your last drink or drug, things start to get uncomfortable. You experience anxiety, depression or overwhelming cravings. Your body starts to cry out for your substance of choice. You may start to experience tremors or hot flashes or body aches or nausea. Suddenly, in spite of all the determination you had to quit only hours earlier, you can’t bear the pain. Your body drives you back to the drink or the drug as if its been hijacked by some force stronger than you. You drink and use again even when you don’t want to. This is the powerlessness we experience in addiction. And this cycle is repeated over and over again until our self esteem is crushed and our sense of hope obliterated. Why can’t we just stop? 

Or, you may be the friend or family member of an addict or alcoholic witnessing this cycle and asking the same question: Why can’t my loved one just say no? 

Withdrawal is often the first barrier an individual must cross to find sobriety. This is why a medically-assisted detox program is essential. It is the first vital step toward recovery. At Guardian Recovery we help ease the pain of withdrawal by offering individuals medication assisted treatment (MAT) in a comfortable, homestyle setting with expert medical and clinical staff. Then, to help combat cravings in later stages of recovery, we also offer medication assisted treatment to help individuals maintain ongoing recovery.

What is Medication Assisted Treatment?

Medication Assisted Treatment — MAT for short — is simply the method of using medication to ease the symptoms of withdrawal, lessen continued cravings or decrease the chances of relapse. If a person abusing drugs or alcohol can have some guarantees that they can go through the withdrawal process with little to no discomfort or pain, the likelihood of that person agreeing to get sober vastly increases. Likewise, if medication can continually help with cravings and prevent relapse, it can be an effective tool in an individual’s recovery journey. At Guardian Recovery we use a variety of medications to assist our clients with long-term sobriety.

In general, we use the following medications:

For Opioid Dependence — For opioid dependencies, which includes prescription opioids  (such as OxyContin, Oxycodone and Percocet, among others) and illicit opiates (such as heroin), Guardian Recovery utilizes Suboxone and/or Subutex. Both Suboxone and Subutex contain buprenorphine. Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist, which means that it satisfies the brain’s craving for an opioid and allows a person to avoid severe opioid withdrawal symptoms, but does not produce a high. Suboxone is beuprenorphine combined with naloxone. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which means that it blocks the effects of opioids at the receptor sites, making it difficult to abuse. Both Suboxone and Subutex have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat opioid use disorder (OUD). Guardian Recovery clients are slowly weaned off of the medication over the course of several days, which makes the withdrawal process relatively painless. Non-narcotic pain relievers, sleep medications, anti-anxiety medications and holistic treatment methods may also be employed to aid an individual in their opioid withdrawal. Following detox, we may also employ medications to combat cravings, such as Vivitrol (Naltrexone).

For Alcohol Dependence – Alcohol withdrawal is one of the only types of withdrawal (in addition to benzodiazepine withdrawal) that can be life-threatening. This is because the central nervous system goes into shock when alcohol use is suddenly stopped. Alcohol withdrawal can produce tremors, hallucinations (both auditory and visual) and grand Mal seizures. At Guardian Recovery we treat alcohol withdrawal with a mild benzodiazepine such as Librium. Librium allows us to calm the central nervous system and slowly wean the body off of alcohol. For liver compromised patients, we use a medication called Serax, which has the same effect but is milder on the liver. To combat continued cravings and prevent relapse, we sometimes prescribe Antabuse (Disulfiram).

For Benzodiazepine Dependence – For benzodiazepine dependence Guardian Recovery uses a taper method. This means we use a mild benzodiazepine such as Librium to slowly ween an individual off benzodiazepines. 

For Stimulant Dependence – While there is no designated medication used to treat symptoms associated with stimulant withdrawal, we combine over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and ibuprofen with non-narcotic sleep aids, anti-anxiety medications, and in some cases antipsychotic medications to make the detox process as comfortable as possible.

For Anxiety  – A common symptom of any kind of withdrawal is anxiety and occasionally panic attacks. At CuraSouth we first utilize a non-addictive option such as Vistaril or Clonodine to ease anxiety. For more acute cases, we occasionally use Ativan. All of these medications are used on a temporary basis to make the withdrawal process easier for our clients.

If you have any questions regarding medication assisted treatment, please contact us. We are happy to answer any questions you might have.

What Happens After Detox?

It is important to recognize that detox is only the first step. Medication assisted detox cannot be an individual’s only plan. It is critical that detox is followed by a continuum of care that supports individuals to continue in recovery. 

While in detox, we introduce our clients to the 12 steps, begin individual, group and family therapy, and teach holistic coping mechanisms such as meditation and yoga. Our case managers work hard to help each client craft a detailed plan for continuing their recovery after detox. For most individuals, following detox we encourage a stay at an inpatient residential facility, followed by an intensive outpatient program. For some individuals, it is appropriate to go directly into an outpatient program following detox. However, when it comes to recovery, the more treatment a person can, and is willing, to receive, the better. 

Guardian Recovery has meaningful relationships with many treatment providers across the county. The Guardian Recovery also operates its own network of clinically sophisticated facilities in multiple states, including ColoradoFloridaMaineNew Hampshire and New Jersey. Whether a client continues their recovery journey at one of our facilities or at another provider’s, it is our mission to help smooth the transition from physical detox, into active recovery. To learn more about our network of drug and alcohol treatment programs contact us today.

The Admissions Process

If you or your loved one is interested in learning more about our medication assisted detox programs, or any of our addiction treatment options, contact us. Our admissions team members are compassionate, non-judgemental individuals who have all either been in recovery themselves, or helped someone they love enter recovery. They know how devastating addiction can be. They understand the pain, anger and sadness you might be going through, and they can help you navigate the sometimes confusing addiction treatment and insurance world. They are a patient resource ready and waiting to help you.

During our initial phone call we complete a brief pre-assessment geared towards determining what will be the most effective treatment for each individual case. Next we determine which coverage option is most viable. In addition to working closely with most major regional and national health insurance providers, we offer self-pay and private pay options. If you’d like to check our coverage options before calling, we offer a free, no obligation insurance benefit check. Finally we set a date and a time for intake and help arrange plans for reliable transportation to one of our centers. We understand how devastating addiction can be, and our main priority is making the admissions process as straightforward and uncomplicated as possible. To begin your own personal recovery journey — or to help someone you love — contact us today.

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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