Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) has gained a lot of popularity in recent times as it is widely accepted as one of the most effective ways to treat substance use disorders.
These centers are using MAT for two main reasons: Firstly, it helps improve patient outcomes and makes them ways more likely to remain sober long-term, so if you or someone you care about is struggling with an addiction, these programs can help.
Secondly, because some treatment plans don’t work for everyone. More than 20% of people with a drug use disorder don’t respond to either behavioral or pharmacological interventions hence the need for medical intervention. As such, centers that offer this type of treatment are becoming more and more common and accessible.
Here’s everything you need to know about MAT:
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Medication-assisted treatment refers to the use of one or more medications as part of a treatment plan for those who have an addiction.
The goal of medication-assisted treatment is to address the biological, psychological, and social aspects of addiction. It helps to reduce opioid cravings, prevent withdrawal symptoms, and replace the euphoric effects of opioids with a more manageable “high.”
In many cases, medication-assisted treatment is used in conjunction with psychological interventions like individual therapy and group therapy sessions.
How Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Help People Recover From Addiction?
Medication-assisted treatment may be used in two different circumstances: When the patient has not received a positive response from behavioral interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or when a person has failed a course of CBT.
Medication-assisted treatment is effective because it addresses the biological, psychological, and social components of addiction. It also helps to prevent opioid cravings, manage opioid withdrawal symptoms, and relieve psychological distress related to drug use.
Because each person is different, each person’s treatment plan will be different as well.
Patients receiving medication-assisted treatment for short-term abstinence may receive an opioid blocker such as naltrexone in combination with psychosocial interventions such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). To achieve long-term sobriety, patients receiving medication-assisted treatment may receive either partial agonist therapy, agonist therapy, or opioid blocker therapy.
Here are some of the drugs used during medically assisted treatment:
Vivitrol is an opioid blocker that can be used in medication-assisted treatment to treat opioid addiction. It works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, but it does not produce a high.
Vivitrol is not associated with any cravings and does not reduce pain. However, some vivitrol side effects include nausea, dizziness, and headaches.
Buprenorphine is a synthetic opioid medication used in medication-assisted treatment. It is a partial opioid agonist, meaning that it activates opioid receptors in the brain while still being less potent than other opioids.
Buprenorphine is used to treat opioid addiction by reducing cravings and preventing withdrawal symptoms. It is also used to manage chronic pain in certain cases.
The Bottom Line
The stigma against medication-assisted treatment has decreased in recent years, especially as more research emerges showing the benefits of these medications. The advent of new medications and an increased awareness about the synergy between psychotherapy and medication has led to better outcomes for patients dealing with opioid addiction.
As a result, many treatment centers are now adopting medication-assisted treatment as part of their standard of care.