Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is one of the safest and most effective methods for helping people recover from opioid addiction. Standard addiction treatment programs mainly consist of counseling and behavioral therapy programs. Medicated Assisted Treatment goes a bit further. MAT utilizes FDA approved anti-craving medication, comprehensive therapy, and behavioral counseling to provide an integrated approach to treating addiction disorders. By using this holistic approach to treat substance addiction, patients no longer have to worry about withdrawal symptoms and relapsing, but only focus on their journey to sobriety.
America is facing an opioid epidemic. In 2018, approximately 48,320 people died from opioid-related overdoses. The need for affordable and accessible addiction treatment for individuals and communities struggling with opioid and pain killer addiction has never been more urgent.
Opioids are a group of drugs known to have a high risk of addiction and dependence. These include prescription pain killers such as Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Codeine, and illegal drugs such as heroin. Individuals addicted to these drugs feel sick when their body runs low on opioids.
Other than the withdrawal symptoms, addicts also experience intense cravings, which makes a recovery harder. Medications used in the MAT program help to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms; therefore, they help patients to focus on returning to their healthy lives.
The medication used in treatment works in one of two ways. The first technique involves doctors using opiates that take longer to get absorbed into the bloodstream, thus staving off withdrawal symptoms. The second involves the use of non-opioid drugs (opioid antagonists) to block opioid receptors in the brain so patients don't get high if they relapse.
Only FDA approved medications, prescribed and distributed by an addiction recovery nurse, are used in MAT programs. Currently, there are only three medications used for MAT treatments.
Here is a list of medications used by doctors in Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioids:
What works for one patient may not work for another. Therefore, doctors create a personalized recovery plan for every patient. Doctors will consider the risk and benefits of each medication before prescribing it. Patients with a higher risk of overdosing are put under Suboxone since they can't overdose on this. Patients who need surgery are also put under buprenorphine since its easier to wean down the dose. However, for pregnant women, methadone is often the best option. The choice of the best medication depends on the physician's interaction with the patient.
Despite the controversy, research proves that medication-assisted therapy is the most effective method for treating addiction.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration explains that the MAT approach results in:
A ten-year study conducted in Baltimore found that the use of Buprenorphine in MAT programs resulted in a significant drop in heroin and narcotic painkiller overdose. A 2014 study concluded that Methadone use resulted in improved outcomes in patients with opioid addiction disorders.
Counseling and therapy also play a crucial role in the effectiveness of MAT programs. The 12-step meetings, individual and group counseling, and community resources help to ensure patients are supported continuously through their recovery journey. And if that's not enough, MAT also facilitates family and community counseling to ensure patients have a healthy support system of their family, friends, and peers.
Like opioids, alcohol dependence can lead to life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. MAT can help to alleviate alcohol withdrawal symptoms and ease cravings to ensure a patient focuses on his/her recovery.
Here is a list of medications used by doctors in Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcoholism:
Medication-Assisted Therapy is not a quick fix. MAT is a lifelong recovery and rehabilitation process that entails the collaboration of medical staff and a willing patient. Patients can safely take MAT medications for several years or even a lifetime as long as they follow the physician's plan. However, there should be continuous discussions on developing a medication withdrawal plan. The success of a MAT program mainly depends on the patient's willingness to continue with their sobriety journey.
Federal law requires that all MAT patients receive counseling, education, and medical assessments as part of the treatment program. MAT patients have to undergo several one-on-sone therapy sessions with a counselor. Patients also undergo group counseling, which involves creating a comfortable environment to work out emotional issues. Group counseling also provides positive peer pressure to abstain from substance use. The other pillar of the MAT program is community education. Currently, the opioid epidemic affects every group of people in the United States. Community education is meant to increase public awareness of the nature of opioid addictions and treatment options available.
Most insurance plans will cover this type of addiction treatment. The effectiveness of the MAT program has allowed many health care providers to cover this type of treatment service. Currently, over 16 insurance providers have committed to supporting patients going through MAT programs.
Many addiction treatment centers within our Rehab Directory offer Medially Assisted Treatment. If you're looking to participate in a MAT program, there are many options within our directory. You can browse participating rehab centers by clicking here.
A common myth about MAT is that doctors are substituting one drug for another, creating an alternate addiction. To the untrained eye, MAT is merely substituting one opiate for another. But that's not the case. In the MAT program, Doctors replace dangerous drugs that will likely kill you, with non-dangerous medications that allow you to get back to a healthy lifestyle. Although methadone can be easily abused, research shows that when used correctly, MAT medications have little adverse and long-term effects on patient's employability, intelligence, or physical functioning.