Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs provide medicine to help treat addiction and its effects.
Some drugs—like opioids—cause a person to have physical and mental cravings even after detox. This makes it challenging to focus on recovery and often leads people to relapse.
MAT uses medication that targets the same areas of the brain as the drug of abuse. Some medications block the effects of these drugs altogether, while others produce a mild effect that takes the edge off cravings.
Medication alone does not heal addiction. MAT programs offer therapy and counseling alongside medication to help the individual overcome substance abuse and live a healthier life.
Medication-assisted treatment may include therapies like:
- cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- wellness programs
- recovery support groups
- art therapy
- wilderness therapy
- spiritual support
Behavioral therapy is a vital component of addiction treatment that produces positive behavior by altering negative thought patterns.
Wellness programs encourage nutrition and physical activity to heal the body from the devastating effects of addiction.
Other treatment methods teach coping techniques and life skills that help individuals resist relapse and find fulfillment. Nurturing the mind, body, and spirit during addiction treatment increases the chances of long-term recovery.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) For Opioid Addiction
Medication-assisted treatment is often used to treat opioid addiction. Because opioids are highly addictive, it can be nearly impossible for someone to stop taking them on their own.
Medically supervised detox programs help people safely rid their body of drugs. However, a few days in detox may be too short a time for someone to stop taking opioids altogether.
They may be given a medication to taper off opioids during detox that they continue to take during addiction treatment.
Opioids act on receptors in the brain to produce a sense of euphoria. Suboxone—a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone—is often used in medication-assisted treatment to reduce cravings for this euphoric feeling.
Buprenorphine is an opioid that targets opioid receptors to produce a mild effect, dampening the intensity of cravings. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist, which blocks the effect of opioids in the brain to prevent buprenorphine from causing euphoria and being abused.
The goal of medication-assisted treatment is to help people abstain from potent opioids that damage their health and life. They may reduce their use of medication over time until they can live substance-free.
This gradual process brings recovery for many individuals who would otherwise relapse.
Is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Effective?
The National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can be very effective. Studies show that people are more likely to stay in treatment with the aid of medication, which increases the chances of successful completion.
MAT also decreases the chances of drug-overdose death. Some people who stop using opioids during treatment relapse and take the drugs at the same dose as before. Not realizing that their body can’t handle the same amount anymore, they overdose.
A person who remains in a rehab program is less likely to overdose and has immediate access to medical attention to prevent overdose death.
Medication-assisted treatment is also helpful for pregnant women and their babies. NIDA reports fewer instances of issues related to substance abuse (neonatal abstinence syndrome, or NAS) in newborns whose mothers were in a MAT program.
Some individuals are concerned that medication-assisted treatment replaces one drug with another. However, the medications used are milder than most abused substances, and many people successfully wean off all drugs through MAT.
Other Medications In Medication-Assisted Treatment
Besides helping people overcome abuse of a specific substance, medication-assisted treatment may provide medicine to treat other issues.
Withdrawal symptoms often linger after detox and can cause discomfort and pain. Over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) can be used as pain-relief during an MAT program.
Medications to prevent diarrhea, vomiting, or other digestive troubles may also be offered.
Individuals who struggle with co-occurring disorders may receive medication for mental health issues when appropriate. Clinical staff members closely monitor prescriptions and all other medications.
Medication-Assisted Treatment Programs At Vertava Health Texas
Our medication-assisted treatment programs at Vertava Health Texas take an individualized and holistic approach.
We offer many evidence-based and experiential therapies, such as trauma therapy and yoga, to encourage whole-person healing.
When appropriate, we provide Suboxone for opioid addiction. Though we offer outpatient rehab programs, medication-assisted treatment is often most effective in an inpatient program.
Our residential care provides 24-hour monitoring, so our clinical staff can ensure each person’s safety and adjust medications over the course of treatment.
For more information on medication-assisted treatment programs at Vertava Health Texas, contact one of our addiction specialists today.