Medication Assisted Treatment

If you or your loved one is dealing with substance addiction, seeking help is the first step.

In the midst of an ever-expanding opioid epidemic, communities across the country are demanding prevention and substance abuse treatment options. According to the CDC, heroin use has more than doubled in the last decade, and prescription opioid overdoses have tripled over the last few years. To combat this crisis, behavioral health organizations are increasingly utilizing evidence-based practices such as medication assisted treatment (MAT) to help addicts cope and relearn how to live addiction free.

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

Medication-assisted treatment combines behavioral therapy techniques and medication to treat substance use disorder. Treatment for individuals with opioid (and other) addictions can include FDA-approved medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use addiction. MAT is one of the most proven and effective approaches to helping addicts curb cravings and adopt a more sustainable lifestyle.

How Does MAT Work?

MAT bridges the biological and behavioral components of addiction by uniting guided medication and counseling services. Research indicates that a combination of medication and behavioral therapies can successfully treat substance use disorders and help foster sustainable recovery. MAT has been shown to assist patients in recovery by improving quality of life, level of functioning, and the ability to handle the high levels of stress involved in this process. Most importantly, though, MAT helps to reduce mortality and relapse while patients begin the recovery process.

MAT medications include methadone, buprenorphine, and injectable naltrexone. These medications block the euphoric effects of opioids, relieve cravings, and help normalize bodily functions that can be thrown off during this process. They are used to manage dependence and addiction to short-acting opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.

Benefits of Medical-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment is the go-to option for many people who are struggling to overcome their addictive tendencies. MAT has been shown to help dramatically reduce the number of people that relapse or end up overdosing after detoxification (which can dramatically raise the chance of overdose due to sensitivity).

Some of the main benefits of MAT include:

  • MAT has the best outcomes in terms of success and relapse rate compared to other methods.
  • MAT allows for more freedom while still gaining crucial access to counseling and medication.
  • It reduces the risk of overdose deaths after detoxification
  • MAT can bridge the gap between addiction treatment and real life adaptation.

Signs that MAT May Be Required

An assessment by a Licenced professional is a great start. Ultimately, a plan is created for dosing and a physician will be writing a prescription. Most people are aware of withdrawal, which comprises all the painful symptoms that come with cutting off the brain’s supply of alcohol or drugs that it is accustomed to. Typical symptoms of withdrawal from drugs or alcohol include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Tremors
  • Anxiety
  • Confusion or agitation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Cravings
  • Hallucinations

The harsh nature of withdrawal symptoms is almost always enough to cause immediate relapse if the person attempts to withdraw on their own. In some cases, particularly with alcohol, withdrawal can be life-threatening if not met with medically-guided assistance.
MAT is evidence-based and is the recommended course of treatment for opioid addiction by a majority of addiction care thought leaders. The American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, American Medical Association, The National Institute on Drug Abuse, and many other agencies all emphasize MAT as the recommended first line of treatment. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance, reach out to Heartland House today and inquire about our MAT options.

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