Medication assisted treatment programs offer hope to those struggling with certain types of substance use. It may seem like an odd concept to treat a person struggling with drug addiction with other drugs but these programs have been proven to be beneficial.
What Is a Medication Assisted Treatment Program?
A medication assisted treatment program (MAT) is an evidence-based approach that employs a combination of three elements of treatment to treat the whole person. A MAT program uses United States Food and Drug Administration approved medications alongside behavioral therapies and counseling in the treatment of substance use disorders. Drugs such as Suboxone (which is a mix of naloxone and buprenorphine) or methadone have been proven to save lives for patients battling addiction to opioids while acamprosate, naltrexone and disulfiram are used to treat alcohol use disorder.
The primary purpose of the medications in this trifecta of a treatment regimen is to reduce cravings for addictive substances that have taken control over the lives of patients.
Drugs used in medication assisted treatment programs also help reduce the effects of withdrawal, ranging from physical pain to emotional and mental struggles. Navigating through symptoms of withdrawal can be difficult even for clients who are serious about receiving treatment and finding healing. These medications can help patients during the transition process from addiction to recovery with more success and less difficulty.
Many people who struggle with addiction have underlying reasons for why they use. Sometimes they don’t have the necessary coping skills to deal with the struggles they face in life while in other cases, there could be issues that are underlying, possibly related to abuse, trauma or co-occurring conditions that need to be addressed in order to find healing and recovery.
Is There Controversy Surrounding Medication Assisted Treatment in Addiction?
The use of medications to treat drug addiction has long been a topic of controversy. Many people still don’t understand fully how medication assisted treatment programs work, with much bias and discrimination remaining in place regarding this treatment option and substance use disorders. Some people believe that the only way to attain true recovery is via the path of abstinence. There is a stigma connected with the use of medication assisted treatment. Some believe that many patients who enter rehabilitation programs or the hospital for substance use disorders and are treated with MAT are merely substituting one drug for another. This stigma often causes patients to feel like they cannot talk about their recovery, which is another problem and can adversely impact their recovery.
When a person feels he or she cannot talk about the use of medication for his treatment, the inability to be honest can become an issue. Honesty is a major part of the recovery process. Sometimes recovery takes more time for some people but those using MAT may be told that they aren’t recovering because they simply swapped one drug for another.
The truth is, however, that medication assisted treatment programs work. These programs have enabled patients to live a self-directed life. This treatment approach has been proven to:
- Increase patient survival
- Increase treatment outcomes
- Increase the ability for patients to gain and maintain employment
- Decrease substance use and other criminal activities associated with substance use disorders
- Improve birth outcomes among pregnant women battling substance use disorders
- Reduce the potential for relapse
Who Would Benefit From Going To a Medication Assisted Treatment Program?
Patients who have struggled with opioid addiction or alcohol use disorders have found success with medication assisted treatment programs. As an evidence-based program with benefits that are proven to help patients turn around and recover from addiction, it remains a viable treatment option for individuals burdened by the disease of substance use.
If you or someone you love are batting substance use or addiction, My Recovery Source can help guide you to lasting recovery. Regardless of where you live, what you are struggling with or your personal situation, My Recovery Source is your top destination for finding help with drug and alcohol abuse. Reach out to us today for a free personalized recommendation.