Treatment facilities for drugs and alcohol around the United States are utilizing medication-assisted therapy (MAT) to help clients in the recovery process. When used in combination with other forms of treatment such as behavioral therapies, counseling, and alternative therapies, this can prove extremely beneficial for healing. Recovery can be sustained for the long term by using this treatment, which is “clinically driven and tailored to meet each patient’s needs.” MAT has proven to be successful in treating substance abuse disorders, so facilities such as Everlast Recovery Centers use it.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is when medications are used in conjunction with various counseling and behavioral therapies to treat the “whole” patient. Only FDA approved medications are used in MAT, and it was created to help individuals struggling with opioid addiction.
The Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment
There are numerous benefits that MAT has to offer for clients that undergo it for addiction treatment and recovery. According to SMART Recovery, MAT can:
- Increase patient retention in rehab and overall treatment
- Boost survival instincts in recovery
- Help individuals find and keep a job
- Aid in births for women that currently have a substance abuse disorder
- Decrease illegal opiate use
- Lower criminal activity in the population that has substance abuse disorders
What Medications Are Used in MAT?
The plan for one individual’s MAT will be different than another person’s, meaning that various medications may be prescribed depending on the circumstances. All medications used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure individuals’ safety undergoing the treatment. Generally, medicines such as naltrexone, methadone, naloxone, and buprenorphine are prescribed due to their helpfulness in managing opiate addictions such as codeine, heroin, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine.
How Long Does MAT Last?
One person’s treatment plan will be different from the next’s; therefore, the treatment length will also vary from case to case. Some people only need MAT for a couple of months, while others may use the medications for years or even their entire life. MAT should always be discussed with your doctor, and you should never stop taking the medication without consulting with your doctor first.
When is MAT Necessary?
While recovery is different for everyone, some criteria are considered when deciding if someone should be put on MAT. Generally, people struggling with opioid, alcohol, or benzodiazepine addictions will be placed on MAT to help with withdrawal symptoms. Those struggling with co-occurring disorders should also consider MAT because it can help reduce the chances of relapse. If a medical professional recommends MAT for you, it is most likely for a good reason. This is especially true if you have attempted recovery multiple times without success.
The Risks of MAT
While the number of benefits that MAT has to offer is vast, there are risks to consider when deciding if it is right for you. Knowing every possible pro and con will help you make the most informed decision regarding treatment and your path to recovery. Weigh your options and always make yourself and your healing your priority.
Potential Side Effects
It is important to remember that even though medications can help you feel better, they may come with side effects that are either inconvenient or unwanted. For example, the medications commonly used in MAT include methadone and buprenorphine, which cause drowsiness, dizziness, and constipation. More severely, you could experience effects to the tune of headaches, stomach pain, joint pain, and anxiety. If you experience side effects and become worried, always contact your medical professional to see what the next step should be.
Falling into the belief that medication is your end all be all cure for addiction is relatively easy when the medication is working in your recovery. You may believe that you don’t need the other therapies and treatments to get better, causing you to become overreliant on the medications you’ve been given. This can be dangerous for those that have previously suffered from addiction because you may fall into the same habits with a new substance. The chance of relapse may increase, so be aware and continue treatment with the other approaches.
All of the medications used in MAT are FDA approved, meaning most of them have little risk involved. However, methadone does have a potential overdose risk because of its addictive nature. If someone becomes dependent on methadone, it is possible to take too big of a dose in an attempt to get high and then overdose. This can cause severe health complications and possible death. It is essential to consider this when you are thinking about trying MAT.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is being utilized across the United States, especially for individuals struggling with opioid addictions. When practiced, MAT uses FDA approved medications such as naltrexone, methadone, naloxone, and buprenorphine combined with other behavioral therapies and counseling. The practice benefits include helping clients retain more of what they are learning while in treatment, living a happy and responsible life post-treatment, and other benefits specific to individuals. There is no particular timeline for MAT because its use is tailored to the individual receiving it. The treatment can last anywhere from a few months at a time to a lifetime. When considering MAT, it is crucial to consider the potential risks to make an informed and educated decision regarding your addiction treatment. Some medications, such as methadone, have addictive tendencies and can cause overdose and death. For more information regarding MAT, call Everlast Recovery Centers at 866-DETOX-25. Your healing journey begins with us.