Individuals who develop a substance use disorder (SUD) are often reliant on the substance both physically and psychologically. While counseling, behavioral therapy, and holistic treatments can be incredibly effective at treating the psychological effects of addiction, they cannot treat the physical dependence or uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that often cause people to relapse before they have the chance to really begin their recovery journey. That’s where Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) comes in.
How Does Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Help?
The main substances that require medication assisted treatment are opioids. Because they can create such a strong physical dependency, quitting can cause extreme withdrawal symptoms, including:
- High blood pressure
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
Stopping opiate abuse “cold turkey” can be incredibly dangerous, especially for people who have a high tolerance for opioids. Medical oversight helps ensure that individuals do not immediately relapse or experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms that can lead to medical emergencies.
The medications used for MAT can begin relieving cravings and normalizing brain chemistry, making it easier to wean off of opioids safely and to stay off of them longer. However, it is critical to pair other behavioral therapies with MAT for long-term recovery.
Medications Used for MAT
There are a few different medications used for MAT purposes.
- Opioid overdose – Naloxone (Narcan), can reverse an opioid overdose if administered soon after the overdose. This drug is not meant for long-term use but can be lifesaving.
- Opioid addiction – The most common drugs used for opioid addiction MAT are methadone, buprenorphine (Subutex), clonidine, and naltrexone.
- Alcohol addiction – Alcohol is another substance that can result in severe withdrawal complications and relapse. Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone can all help curb alcohol cravings.
Many of these drugs can be used long-term in conjunction with continued counseling and support groups to prevent relapse.
MAT as Part of a Whole-Person Treatment Plan
MAT has been proven to improve survival rates, reduce instances of relapse, and provide a better quality of life for people who struggle with addiction. When considering addiction, it is important to remember that it almost always affects the person as a whole: mind, body, and spirit.
It is critical to treat addiction from all angles in order to live a life of continued recovery. Just as cognitive behavioral therapy can begin creating new pathways in the mind and yoga can help people reconnect to their spirituality, medication can give the body the much-needed break it needs to start healing.
It is also important to note that MAT does not simply substitute one addiction for another. This is a fairly common misconception. The medications that doctors prescribe for MAT simply relieve withdrawal symptoms and help to curb psychological cravings with nearly zero adverse effects on mental capacity or physical functioning.
At RAIN Recovery, we believe in treating every facet of addiction in order to help people shift their perspectives and find their own paths to healing. If you or a loved one is living with drug or alcohol addiction, help is available. Give RAIN Recovery a call today at (818) 208-9446 or contact us online to speak with an admission counselor.
MAT could save your life. Don’t hesitate to reach out.