For the last several decades, substance abuse and addiction have stood among the largest public health crises in the nation. Substance abuse is a mental health disorder characterized by consistent and excessive use of substances like drugs (prescription and illicit) and alcohol, and anyone can fall victim to addiction. Like other diseases, addiction can be treated in a variety of ways, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?
Although medication alone cannot cure substance abuse, it can make a significant difference in the road to recovery for people with addiction. MAT does not involve the use of medications alone. Instead, it combines medication with other forms of therapy during their detox and recovery. Medication-assisted treatment is usually used during the early stages of recovery to prevent relapse; then, the patient can continue focusing on developing coping skills to achieve complete sobriety.
Some treatment facilities, like Lexington Addiction Center, offer outpatient MAT with medications administered by injection on a monthly basis.
Medications Used in MAT
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved medications for alcohol and opioids specifically. Vivitrol, which can be used to treat both alcohol and opioid addiction, blocks receptors in the brain to prevent the effects of drugs like heroin, oxycodone, or fentanyl if a person relapses. On the other hand, Subcolade is a medication for opioid treatment only. Subcolade actually binds to opioid receptors in the brain, but to a lesser extent than actual opioids. This effect is not intended to get the patient “high,” but to manage and prevent cravings they may have experienced otherwise.
Withdrawal symptoms for those addicted to alcohol or opioids can be life-threatening. Additionally, a person going through withdrawal tends to be at a higher risk of overdosing if they relapse. Certain medications can help manage these symptoms and reduce cravings, which in turn can help a person in recovery focus on staying sober. Other advantages of an MAT program include:
- Facilitating a safer detox process
- Limiting the likelihood of illegal drug use or binge drinking
- Ensuring patients stick with their treatment program
Addiction can present in many ways, and it can cause issues that medication alone cannot treat. However, MAT for people struggling with drug addiction can help them focus on dealing with other problems, such as relationship issues or a co-occurring mental illness.
In the face of the ongoing substance abuse crisis, approaches to addiction treatment have evolved significantly over the years. Rehab centers across the nation now offer innovative programs and addiction recovery strategies ranging from holistic therapy to medication-assisted treatment to combat substance abuse. It’s important to remember that medication alone can’t cure addiction. Nevertheless, its multifaceted ability to manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms can make a massive difference in keeping a person in recovery and on the road to sobriety.