Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Actually Work?

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Addiction treatment is hard, and here at New Perspectives, we understand that better than anyone. Many people who do not have experience in dealing with substance use and substance abuse disorders view addiction as a choice. While it is true that some addictions stem from psychological factors and may not be physically addictive, addiction is by no means a choice. Struggling with addiction can be difficult and, as a result, addiction treatment can be equally as difficult.

Fortunately, just because addiction can be difficult doesn’t mean it has to be. As illicit substances become more potent, complex, and numerous, treatment centers have to adapt their methods of treatment. A common practice in drug treatment consists of medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, FDA approved medications used with therapy is among the most effective ways to go about treating substance use disorder and addiction. Most commonly used in opioid or alcohol addiction treatment, MAT is among the most useful tools that treatment centers have to combat addiction.

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Addiction and addiction treatment are both associated with intense withdrawals and cravings, even after detox is completed. While these cravings are normal in treatment, it is never okay to give in to your withdrawals. Medication-assisted treatment makes enduring withdrawal symptoms much easier, and some specific medications can work wonders to fend off cravings and promote long-term sobriety.

The medications used in MAT are effective in not only fending off cravings but also in normalizing brain functionality and chemistry and blocking the effects of the substance that the patient is addicted to. Each medication in MAT is carefully and expertly administered to each individual patient depending on their addiction/severity of addiction.

Medications Used In Opioid Addiction

With the current ongoing opioid crisis causing addiction and overdose rates to skyrocket, it is no surprise that MAT is essential in treating opioid addiction. The medications used in opioid addiction are extremely helpful in ensuring a successful recovery and should be taken until a doctor says otherwise.

Medications used in MAT for opioid addiction are as follows:

● Buprenorphine
● Probuphine
● Methadone
● Naloxone
● Naltrexone
● Acamprosate
● Disulfiram

Medications Used in Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism, is among the most dangerous addictions that someone can be faced with. Alcohol is the sole cause of 88,000 deaths per year, which solidifies its title as the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, closely following tobacco and poor dieting. Alcohol, while it may be legal, still poses a threat to a user’s health, and alcohol addiction can bring the most life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures and Delirium tremens. For this reason, MAT for alcohol addiction is crucial in the fight against addiction, and common medications may include:

● Disulfiram
● Acamprosate
● Naltrexone
● Methadone
● Suboxone

It is extremely important to remember that, without professional medical supervision, these medications can be dangerous and addictive. Do not ever take these medications without your doctor’s approval, as doing so has many serious side effects. For example, if someone requires detox to treat their addiction, but neglects seeking professional help, they will often try to obtain a drug listed as one used in MAT to treat themselves. Treatment should always start with detox, and addicts that try to use these medications without detoxing can cause the two substances to interact with each other, resulting in significantly worse symptoms.

Pros and Cons of Medication-Assisted Treatment

As is true with almost anything else, there are always at least two sides to every situation, and use of MAT is no exception. When it comes to determining whether or not to engage in MAT, it is essential to weigh out the pros and cons. Helping you is our number one priority, and by providing you the proper information you need, New Perspectives is more than happy to get you started down the path to sobriety.

It is important to know about the potential dangers of MAT:

  • Medications are not for everyone. Those that are irresponsible and cannot safely control their intake of the medication or the substance that they are addicted to should take caution in MAT.
  • Medications can produce side effects. Uncomfortable symptoms such as fever, agitation, nausea, fatigue, and irregularities in sleep pattern may occur but, usually, don’t due to the medical expertise of your doctors.
  • MAT, in general, can give the patient a false sense of security. Simply assuming that you’re risk-free just because you are a member of a MAT program can lead to overconfidence, one of the main reasons people relapse.
  • MAT is generally more costly than other forms of treatment. Unfortunately, medication-assisted treatment has a higher price than regular treatment, as the costs for treatment cover all medications used in treatment.

While these downsides may be detrimental to an addict seeking professional treatment through MAT, the many positive qualities of MAT greatly outweigh the negatives.

  • Medications can make treatment much easier on the patient. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications can help treat psychological withdrawal symptoms, and anticonvulsants and sedatives can help treat the physical withdrawal symptoms.
  • MAT is directly linked to higher success rates. By engaging in MAT, a patient can easily give their doctor the permission and resources needed for the doctor to make sure that relapse rates stay low, and success rates stay high.
  • MAT is a strong tool in fighting infectious disease during treatment. Studies and research shows that a person engaging in treatment has a slightly higher risk of developing an infectious disease, such as HIV. MAT almost completely terminates that risk factor.
  • MAT is effective in preventing overdoses. Although there are medications to treat withdrawal and withdrawal symptoms to make it easier for the patient, medication-assisted treatment also offers medications to help prevent overdose. For example, buprenorphine is a medication commonly used in MAT. It acts as a sort of substitute to opioids, binding to opioid receptors and still giving off the effects of an opioid, though not as strong.

Seeking Medication-Assisted Treatment

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction, New Perspectives is more than happy to help. You should consider medication-assisted treatment if you:

● Are officially diagnosed with alcohol or opioid addiction
● Are responsible enough to take follow prescription instructions without fail
● Do not have any physical health issues that may complicate MAT
● Have motivation and actually want to treat your addiction
● Have explored other options for treatment

Call us today at 855-463-0793 or contact us online and let one of our specialists provide you with 24/7 support. Our mission is to make sure you take back your right to a sober life, and we will provide every resource we can to help.

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