While it has proven itself to be one of the most effective forms of treating addiction, especially opioid dependency, there are still stigmas around MAT (medication-assisted treatment) programs. The vast majority of these stigmas spring from misinformation, bias, and lack of education about how medication-assisted treatment works. Fortunately, individuals in the medical and recovery community, as well as policymakers, are coming around as MAT has shown itself to be exceptional at helping individuals heal and overcome addiction. Learn the benefits of MAT programs.
The Benefits of MAT
When compared with alternative approaches to addiction treatment that do not use medication, medication-assisted therapy is vastly more effective at keeping patients in treatment and reducing their use of opioids. Also, MAT has drastically reduced the number of fatal heroin overdoses thanks to emergency medications like naloxone. But MAT can be effective in address alcohol use disorder as well. A Vivitrol treatment program helps individuals struggling with alcohol abuse reduce their dependency. Yet the stigmas around MAT persist because most individuals and many medical professionals don’t understand how the medications work.
For example, MAT tends to use medications called opioid agonist and partial opioid agonists. These medications activate opioid receptors in the brain, yet block the euphoria substances like heroin or prescription opioids usually produce. By doing so, opioid agonists like methadone and partial opioid agonists like buprenorphine ease withdrawal symptoms and virtually eliminate cravings. This gives individuals the ability to function normally, allowing them to focus on the therapeutic side of the MAT program.
Medication-assisted treatment programs aren’t just about substituting one drug for another. It involves traditional therapeutic services, as well. Patients, freed from withdrawal symptoms and the compulsion to seek out drugs so to maintain their everyday function, discover in therapy, whether individual or group, the tools, and techniques needed to recover. This involves being able to identify triggers that led them to use, methods of coping with emotional and mental urges and pressures, and resources as well as support to heal and overcome their dependency.
The Stigmas Around MAT
Often, patients in medication-assisted treatment programs believe they aren’t in recovery because they are using medications. This belief comes from both the medical community that hasn’t done the necessary research into how MAT works or how effective it is and others in the recovery community. Many believe recovery is a black or white issue, either/or. This all-or-nothing mentality that believes abstinence and willpower is the only way to overcome addiction fundamentally misunderstands how addiction works. As a disease, addiction requires medical treatment for the body to overcome its dependency. Addiction is complex because it also involves emotional and mental components. These must be addressed through mental health therapies.
It ought to be clear from the routine relapse involved with 12 step programs that are abstinence-only, there need to be other ways to approach healing from addiction. Sunlight Medical Services understands this, which is why we embrace MAT and its track record of success. But there will always be some people who can’t accept the idea of using drugs to get off drugs. No matter that recovery medicine is the backbone of the entire medical industry and every MAT strictly administers and monitors patients to adjust as needed. However, through understanding just how medication-assisted treatments work, the negative connotations surrounding the program is greatly diminishing.