Medication-assisted treatment gets a bad reputation. Many people have this conception that it’s just replacing one addiction for another. You may hear critics say that it’s just shifting a dependency.
These and other rumors float around in conversations and may discourage people struggling with substance abuse from getting the help they need. Combatting those rumors and educating yourself on the facts about medication-assisted treatment can propel you to get the services you need.
Although medication-assisted treatment does incorporate the use of drugs to assist those struggling with substance use disorder, it’s an effective, safe and legal treatment option that is much preferred to the painful abstinence approach.
What is medication-assisted treatment, exactly? Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, utilizes medication to provide someone struggling with addiction a relief from withdrawal symptoms. A safer and legal drug is substituted for the addictive drug for a limited period of time to help the individual manage unpleasant sensations during detox. The aim of MAT is sustained recovery.
Combining treatments can sometimes be looked down on, and in this article we’ll discuss some of the most common myths about medication-assisted treatment and why they’re untrue.
Myth #1: Medication-assisted therapy creates a dependence on a new drug.
For some substances, physical detox and withdrawal symptoms can linger for months or even years. The mental habits of drug addiction are even deeper ingrained; it may take years to significantly rewire the brain’s chemical pathways made by the drugs.
When a person is following proper treatment protocols, the substitute drug can slowly be tapered off. When potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms and cravings subside, the substitute drug can be removed from the treatment plan, leaving a person substance-free.
Because medications are safe and legal, offered in controlled doses, they are much less likely to result in adverse outcomes than illicit drugs.
Myth #2: Medication-assisted treatment doesn’t address underlying issues.
Medication for drug addiction is combined with therapy in the medication-assisted treatment model. This treatment is a layered and holistic approach that addresses more than a person’s physical symptoms. Treatment involves a team of both medical professionals and counselors to heal the whole person.
Medication-assisted treatment will help to address physical symptoms, pain management, substance use triggers and habits, support systems, employment, housing, financial management, childcare if necessary, legal issues and so much more. Any underlying issues that contribute to substance use will also be faced in treatment.
Myth #3: Medication-assisted treatment is only for drug abuse.
Medication for alcohol addiction is also available and effective. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism released a manual on the effectiveness of medication for alcohol addiction that can be downloaded for free here. To find out about which medications are approved for alcohol detox and how screenings and treatment work, read through the manual or consult an addiction specialist.
Myth #4: Medication-assisted treatment isn’t effective.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has identified three drugs proven to reduce dependence on illegal substances. These approved and effective substances are buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) points to the effectiveness of MAT for those struggling with substance abuse disorder. Not only is treatment proven to help sustain recovery and prevent overdose, but it has been shown to limit the need for individuals to participate in inpatient detox programs.
Need more proof? SAMHSA also states that medication-assisted treatment increases survival rates, results in longer duration of treatment retention, decreases opiate use and criminal activity, increases employment, reduces the likelihood of contracting HIV and Hepatitis C and decreases rates of relapse.
Myth #5: There are no benefits to medication-assisted therapy.
Medication-assisted therapy is evidenced-based treatment, endorsed by the FDA and other medical health authorities. The taking of substitute drugs through MAT is legal and less harmful than illicit drugs like opiates. The detox process is much more manageable and less dangerous, as medications can soothe withdrawal sensations and hazardous symptoms.
Medication for substance use can restore quality of life, and offer those struggling with addiction an alternate treatment option as they work towards long-term recovery. It incorporates multiple professionals that can collaborate with you towards sobriety, offering more support than traditional counseling models.
Medication-assisted treatment isn’t what some rumors make it out to be. It takes advantage of modern medicine to offer you the best chances of life-long recovery. Medication for drug addiction is a healthy and successful path that you can take advantage of now.
Silvermist Recovery can help you in your journey to sobriety through their multiple treatment options. Take advantage of medication assisted treatment on a beautiful campus in Western Pennsylvania. Call (724) 268-4858 to get started treating the whole you.