What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of FDA-approved medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.
The San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group uses two main medications, Suboxone and Vivitrol.
Suboxone is used to help the client through the withdrawal process and break the psychological link between taking a drug and immediately feeling high.
Vivitrol is a monthly injection that blocks opioids from reaching the brain and stopping an individual from feeling “high.” Vivitrol also reduces cravings for opioid drugs and alcohol, letting the client focus on their counseling and recovery. Clients must be opioid-free before starting Vivitrol, using opioids while on Vivitrol can increase the risk of overdose.
How does counseling help with addiction?
Addictive substances such as opioid drugs and alcohol, change the way the brain experiences pain and pleasure. The brain likes feeling pleasure, and the hormones used to create a feeling of pleasure are very addictive.
The use of opioids and alcohol causes the body to overproduce these hormones. The brain quickly develops a tolerance to the increased levels of “happy hormones” and needs an increasing amount to feel happy/pleasure.
If the brain does not receive an ever-increasing amount of these hormones, the individual begins to experience pain and withdrawal symptoms. Many individuals quickly fall into a downward spiral of using substances to stop the pain.
One-on-one counseling and group therapy use techniques to help reverse the substance’s adverse effects on the brain. However, using these substances for an extended amount of time, the effects may not be reversible. Counseling then focuses on how to cope with these changes by establishing game plans to avoid relapsing and, most importantly, how to feel pleasure again without the use of substances.
Del Norte, CO
South Fork, CO
La Jara, CO
San Luis, CO
Is MAT just trading one addiction/drug for another?
No, Suboxone is a tool to break the addiction cycle and helps minimize the risk of relapse. Vivitrol is a non-addictive medication with no street value. It decreases cravings for opioid drugs and alcohol, allowing the individual to focus on their counseling and recovery.
Can Suboxone be misused to get high?
Suboxone is heavily regulated and has a few safeties build-in to prevent misuse. When used correctly, it blocks withdrawal symptoms. However, if crushed and injected, it will promote withdrawal symptoms.
More about the Mobile Unit program
The Colorado Department of Human Services, Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) received federal grants from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to help increase access to treatment for opioid use disorder. OBH partnered with Managed Service Organizations (MSO) Signal Behavioral Health Network and West Slope Casa to manage the mobile health unit project regionally, and work closely with the providers who will own and operate each unit.
The mobile health units will resemble a large recreational vehicle on the outside and a typical health clinic on the inside. Each unit will have three dedicated staff members: a licensed practical nurse, a licensed or certified addictions counselor, and a peer recovery coach. Support services offered on the mobile health units include peer support, brief intervention, a prescription for medication-assisted treatment if needed, and linkage to wraparound services. Each of the six units will cover a different geographic area, and each unit has a set list of communities that will be visited each week, every week to provide these services.
The mobile health units are staffed and operated by four different providers. Front Range Clinic will be operating units in Northeast and Southeast Colorado and the Central Mountains. Jefferson Center will be operating a unit in rural Jefferson, Gilpin, and Clear Creek Counties. San Luis Valley Behavioral Health Group will be operating a unit in the San Luis Valley. Mountain Medical will be operating a unit in Northwest Colorado.
The counties that are expected to have mobile health units (although, are subject to change based on community needs) are:
- Clear Creek
- Kit Carson
- Las Animas
- Rio Grande