Medications can be powerful tools that can be used to help an individual get through even the toughest parts of their recovery journey. However, even properly prescribed medications are not a quick fix when it comes to overcoming addiction or coping with mental health disorders.
Rather, medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is a precise treatment process that may not apply to everyone, depending on their unique symptoms or goals. Understanding the purpose behind MAT and how to approach the topic in a safe and informed manner can help a person determine if such a route is appropriate for them. It can also better direct them to their own, effective recovery strategies.
What Is Medication-Assisted Therapy?
Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is a therapeutic approach that uses various medications to help an individual better manage symptoms of addiction or mental health recovery. However, the medications used can have a myriad of different intended effects. It is important to discuss with professionals openly and honestly about one’s physical and emotional needs to identify the best medication for one’s diagnosis.
MAT is not a “miracle cure” for addiction or mental health disorders. It is intended to be used in conjunction with psychotherapy (“talk therapy”) and other therapies. MAT is an option for those who may need help in balancing their emotions, managing withdrawal symptoms, or coping with various mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and more.
However, this approach may not be the right path for each person, and it is up to the individual and professionals to decide if MAT is the best route to recovery. Some may greatly benefit from this type of therapy. Others may be adversely affected by it or it may be unnecessary as one continues to develop effective coping strategies and embraces effective cognitive-behavioral therapies.
There are a number of different factors to consider before pursuing MAT to ensure that an individual is approaching this form of treatment with reasonable expectations. MAT is not intended to be a replacement for therapy. One’s use of medication to help quell whatever symptoms ail them is not intended to be the sole permanent fix to any single aspect of one’s recovery.
Overcoming addiction requires a great deal of work using multiple approaches. One’s recovery may still include residential treatment, sober living programs, and outpatient group or individual therapy to maintain this sober mindset and develop coping strategies.
Likewise, one’s bouts with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and more will still require cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and various other approaches in order to fully develop into an effective coping strategy. The use of medication is in no way intended to be a shortcut or replacement for these other therapeutic approaches. Considering MAT as a way to supplant these other therapies or as a “shortcut” to recovery can lead to a plethora of detrimental outcomes.
Get Together With Supports
Starting MAT can be intimidating. While it can greatly improve a person’s treatment outcomes, it is possible that certain medications can affect an individual in unexpected ways or cause side effects that need to be monitored. Getting together with mental health professionals to discuss the potential side effects and any other information surrounding its use can help to prevent unintended or dangerous side effects from MAT.
Having an outside perspective on how medication has affected a person can also be beneficial for monitoring the effects of MAT. For example, a friend or sober peer may notice if a medication is causing the person to be more depressed or if they are exhibiting unusual behaviors. This outside perspective can help determine if the medication is appropriate for that person or if adjustments need to be made.
Try setting goals with one’s supports and professionals, journaling one’s feelings after beginning a prescription, and discussing the overall effects, both positive and negative. Doing so can all help to ensure that one’s engagement with MAT produces a positive outcome.
Setting Goals for MAT
Not all who engage in MAT will necessarily be using it for the rest of their lives. For some, MAT may be used to ease withdrawal symptoms during detox. Others may be looking for a way to help quell the compulsive thoughts and actions that come with an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Being able to address one’s mental health issues through MAT can open the door for a person to be more receptive to other therapies. These can include group therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.
Using medication as a bridge to better engage with one’s recovery goals can be a healthy way to approach MAT. Medication-assisted therapy is not meant to serve as a crutch or replacement for therapy in one’s recovery journey, but it can help get a person on track for a successful and lasting recovery.
Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is just one treatment option available at Everlast Recovery Centers, and we are prepared to help you understand and approach MAT in an educated and informed manner. Your time with us can be personalized to fit your needs. Our caring professionals are ready to guide you through each stage of your recovery, from detox and residential care, to preparing you for life outside the recovery sphere as an alum. Several therapies are available, such as art, yoga, cognitive-behavioral therapy, EMDR, mindfulness practices, and much more, all of which can be backed with education and medication, as needed. Our home-like atmosphere is curated to ensure that you feel comfortable and able to focus on your own healing, all while surrounded by like-minded peers and professionals helping you navigate your weaknesses and bolster your strengths. For more information on how we can help you or a loved one, call (866) 388-6925 to speak to a caring staff member today.