Doctor's office
Enter your doctor's name to get office information.
Find labs in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find labs in your network.
Find urgent care centers in your network
Enter your primary care doctor's name to find urgent care centers in your network.
FollowMyHealth®
Driving Directions
Cart
Update Information
Forgot Password

Please enter your e-mail address.

Sharp Health News

Effective treatment for opioid and alcohol addiction

June 21, 2019

Effective treatment for opioid and alcohol addiction

On the surface, medication-assisted treatment may seem like a paradox. How can substituting one opioid for another lead to lasting recovery for those struggling with addiction?

The research, however, is clear. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) — which involves the ongoing use of prescribed medications such as methadone, buprenorphine or acamprosate, combined with counseling and therapy — saves lives.

"Opioids and alcohol are powerful drugs, and people who are addicted to them often benefit from ongoing medication assistance after they've gone through initial treatment," says Dr. Kristin Steele, PsyD, manager of Sharp McDonald Center, an addiction recovery hospital in San Diego. "These medications reduce the risk of relapse and help patients successfully meet their recovery goals."

Sharp McDonald Center now offers San Diego's largest medication-assisted treatment program for drug and alcohol addiction. Participants in the program — offered in an outpatient setting — are prescribed MAT medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Along with close monitoring by a doctor, patients receive individual and group therapy, and meet with board-certified addictionologists, psychologists and drug rehabilitation counselors. They also have free lifetime access to aftercare programs offered through Sharp McDonald Center.

"When overcoming a condition as complex as addiction, it's often not successful to 'quit cold turkey,'" Dr. Steele says. "Medication-assisted treatment helps relieve withdrawal symptoms and cravings so that patients can focus on the education, counseling and support needed to sustain their recovery and return to their lives."

The idea of medication-assisted treatment isn't new, but the nation's opioid epidemic is leading to a wider embrace of this effective treatment, Dr. Steele says. Patients who take medication-assisted treatment as part of their recovery for 90 days or more have greater sobriety rates than those who are not on medication.

The treatment is now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institute of Drug Abuse, and the World Health Organization. Most private health insurers cover the treatment for as long as a patient needs it.

An estimated 72,000 people in the U.S. died from drug overdoses in 2017, according to the CDC, and some forecasts estimate that as many as 650,000 people will die from overdoses in the next decade. People in recovery from addiction are most at risk. During initial treatment, they may develop less tolerance to their drug of choice. If they relapse, the chances of overdosing or dying greatly increases.

This is where medication-assisted treatment can make a big difference, Dr. Steele says. A study of heroin overdose deaths in Baltimore between 1995 and 2009, for example, found that increasing availability of medications like methadone and buprenorphine (commonly known as Suboxone®) reduced the number of fatal overdoses by nearly half.

"Taking medication for opioid and alcohol addiction is not the same as substituting one addictive drug for another," Dr. Steele says. "Like any kind of chronic illness, these medications can help those in recovery stay in recovery. It absolutely saves lives."

Learn more about the connection between opioid addiction and mental health at an upcoming free seminar presented by Sharp HealthCare, the official health and wellness partner of the City of San Diego.

  • Wednesday, July 10, Noon to 1 pm at the Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch Library

To learn more or to request an assessment for Sharp McDonald Center's medication-assisted treatment program, please call 858-637-6920.

You might also like:

Choose the doctor who's right for you.

At Sharp, we make it easy to find an exceptional doctor — right where you live and work.

All Categories
Contact Sharp HealthCare
Call us

1-800-827-4277

If this is a life- or limb-threatening emergency, please call 911 immediately.


Email us

Please do not use this form to convey personal or medical information.

How would you like to be contacted?
Date of birth
Optional


Find other numbers

View our phone directory

What's This?

These important numbers are located on your billing statement.

Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

Find your Sharp Rees-Stealy account number

Find your Sharp hospital account number

Find your Sharp hospital account number

Find your SharpCare account number

Find your SharpCare account number
What's GDPR?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) governs the processing of personal information gathered from individuals while they are in the European Union (EU) and parts of the EEA (European Economic Area, which currently includes Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway).

We are sorry, but we are unable to process hospital price estimates if you live or are travelling within the EU or affiliated nations.

To learn more, call us at 858-499-5901.

What's This?

Many surgery and procedure names sound similar. If possible, please provide the current procedure terminology (CPT) code, which can be found on the order from your doctor.

If you cannot provide the CPT code, please contact your doctor's office for the CPT or a detailed description of services.