What is MAT?
As you may have guessed from the title, MAT stands for Medication-Assisted Treatment. MAT is a treatment used for substance abuse problems, specifically for addiction to drugs like heroin and opiates, as well as alcohol and nicotine. Medication-Assisted Treatment involves taking pharmacological medications to curb the withdrawal process. Typically, MAT takes place as a specialized treatment to monitor patients and aid recovery. However, it is also common for MAT to be used in primary care practices, meaning it doesn’t have to be done at a specialty facility. An American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) study discovered that Medication-Assisted Treatment is widely underutilized, perhaps because of misconceptions about how the treatment works, its benefits, and how to get started.
Some argue that the addition of a new drug, even when used to treat the abuse of another drug, is simply replacing one addiction with a new one. This, however, is entirely inaccurate. Drugs used during MAT are drastically less addictive than substances like fentanyl or oxycontin. The FDA has approved 4 drugs for opioid addiction recovery, 3 drugs for tobacco addiction, and 3 drugs for alcohol addiction. With that being said, some MAT drugs can become addictive over time, so it’s important to have a trained professional to monitor and advise you during treatment.
5 Benefits Of Medication-Assisted Treatment
1. Minimizes Cravings
Anyone who’s ever tried to quit a substance or bad habit likely knows how strong cravings for said addiction can truly be. The medication used to assist detox treatments is effective at minimizing these cravings. These drugs act to block opioid receptors, which in turn, tricks the brain into thinking it has already received the drug of choice. As you could imagine, this drastically reduces the experience of cravings during the detox treatment process.
2. Minimizes Withdrawal Symptoms
The primary goal of substance abuse treatment medications is to minimize withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawing from a substance can take a toll on your mind and body, which prevents many people from getting the help they need. MAT effectively combats this aspect of detoxing by changing the brain's relationship to pain. Simply, it makes withdrawal symptoms significantly more manageable.
3. Increases Treatment Retention Rate
The success rate of MAT is tremendous, and therefore, it leads to fewer relapses. Because withdrawals and cravings are less intense, people are more likely to stick with treatments. Studies show a high treatment retention rate for patients partaking in medication-assisted treatment.
4. Customisable Treatment Plans
Medication-assisted treatment is the use of medications, combined with counseling and therapy, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to substance abuse disorders. Therefore, no one treatment plan is exactly the same, meaning they are customizable to what a patient needs. Just like with therapy, one can take the lead in their recovery with MAT, which helps solidify their healing.
5. Extended medical support
As mentioned, MAT takes place with trained professionals to make sure you get the right plan for you to beat your addictions. Withdrawal from opiates, as well as from heavy alcohol use, can have dire unexpected consequences for your body. Withdrawing from a substance without proper care and support can cause serious bodily harm and even fatality. With MAT, patients will receive the medical support they need to deal with inevitable discomfort and potential complications.
If you or someone you know is dealing with substance abuse disorder, it is crucial that you reach out to professional resources to get the help you deserve. However, it can be difficult finding a physician licensed to prescribe drugs involved in MAT. If you would like to locate a practitioner available in your area, click here.