Medication Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment is used for opiate addiction and alcohol dependence.  It can include the use: naltrexone, Vivitrol, campral, antabuse and suboxone.  Medication assisted treatment is to complement the education, counseling and other support measures that focus on the behavioral aspects of opiate addiction or alcohol dependence. These medications can allow one to regain a normal state of mind – free of withdrawal, cravings and the drug or alcohol-induced highs and lows. Medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction and alcohol dependence is much like using medication to treat other chronic illnesses such as heart disease, asthma or diabetes. Taking medication for opiate dependence or alcohol dependence is not the same as substituting one addictive drug for another.

The use of medication assisted treatment can be short or long. The purpose of medication assisted treatment is to allow the person to learn coping skills that  they didn’t learn because of using, drinking or dysfunctional relationships.


  • Naltrexone is a pill that is taken daily.
  • It is used for opiate dependence and alcohol dependence.
  • You cannot take any kind of opiate within 10-14 days or you will go into withdrawal!
  • That means: heroin, methadone, suboxone, and any kind of pain pill.
  •  Naltrexone reduces the cravings that one feels for both opiates and alcohol. So that you can concentrate on learning skills to stay sober.
  • Side effects that are temporary: sleepiness, nausea, headaches. If any of these last longer than 2 weeks contact your doctor.
  • Naltrexone must be used in conjunction with counseling and treatment groups.
  • If you fail at taking a pill every day there is Vivitrol.


 About Vivitrol (naltrexone for extended-release injectable  suspension):

  • Once-monthly injection
  • Non-addictive– VIVITROL doesn’t lead to physical dependence

Vivitrol is used:

  • To help prevent relapse to opiate dependence after detox
  • To treat alcohol dependence. You should stop drinking before starting VIVITROL
  • Before starting VIVITROL, you must be opiate free for a minimum of 10-14 days to avoid sudden  withdrawal
  • Do not take VIVITROL if you have any symptoms of opiate withdrawal
  • VIVITROL must be used with other drug or alcohol recovery programs such as counseling.
  • There is a special application for this through Touchpoint Support Services. The Touchpoint SS helps the client to get the insurance approval and the specialty pharmacy that the insurance uses.
  • Contact Avalon-center if you are interested and we can help set this up for you.

Campral (Acamprosate)

  • Used for Alcohol dependence
  • Works on GABA system to help up regulate it and bring more GABA in to oppose glutamate which goes up with drinking. The glutamate increase causes irritability, anxiety, anger, agitation and rage. The increase is caused by drinking alcohol. The decrease of GABA is caused by drinking Alcohol.
  • 333 mg tablet taken 3X a day.
  • It has an apparent ability to help people refrain from drinking and there is some evidence that it is neuroprotective (protects neurons from damage and death caused by the effects of alcohol withdrawal.
  • Side effects: most common is diarrhea, headache, nausea and gas (flatulence)


  • Antabuse works in that it makes you sick if you drink alcohol.
  • It is AVERSION therapy. How sick you get is dependent on how much alcohol you drink.
  • Symptoms are: nausea, flushing, increased B/P, racing pulse, possibly diarrhea… It is to make you uncomfortable as possible.
  • Warning even the littlest amount such as : after shave, mouthwash, vinegar, cold medicine can make you sick.
  • This has been around a long time. It can be used in conjunction with other medications such as naltrexone.
  • You must have a baseline EKG done in the first week preferably before you start it. It is just to compare to in case you have a reaction to it.