Medication-assisted therapy or MAT is the use of medications in conjunction with counseling and various behavioral therapies when treating addiction. The Food and Drug Administration approves this “whole person” addiction treatment approach. MAT programs are uniquely designed to meet individual patient needs throughout their addiction treatment process.
Why Is Medication-Assisted Therapy Used to Treat Addiction?
Many addictive substances manipulate how the brain perceives pleasure and reward. Long-term addiction often changes pleasure and reward functions in your brain so much that it becomes difficult to feel pleasure or satisfaction without using substances. Medications can help both during the early stages of detox and as a means for ensuring relapse prevention.
Medications can help reduce the impact of withdrawal symptoms during detox. Detox itself is not a treatment, but only the first step in the addiction treatment process. Unfortunately, the detox process is usually the most unpleasant and challenging part of addiction treatment. During detox, withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, chills, heart rate changes, and a host of others, frequently occur. Medications can help to reduce the severity of these symptoms making the detox process more manageable.
During recovery, you can also use medications to help re-establish normal brain function and decrease cravings. This can be extremely beneficial during the early stages of rehab when relapse is quite common, and you are still practicing utilizing coping mechanisms that you learned during treatment.
Who Would Benefit from Medication-Assisted Therapy?
Medication-assisted treatment, also known as MAT or MAT medicine, has proven to be the most successful for those with opioid addictions. The medications work by resembling the addictive substance’s effects in some ways, but they are safer and easier to control. Although most commonly used in opioid addiction treatment, MAT can be used if you struggle with alcohol, tobacco, or other substance addictions as well.
If you struggle with opioid addiction, medication-assisted therapy can help in various ways, including:
Helping to control cravings
When you struggle with substance addiction and either reduce or stop using, you will likely experience intense cravings. This is because your body is used to having a certain amount of the substance in your body, and when it looks for it and finds that it’s not there, the body does not know how to react. These cravings can make it difficult for you to quit, even if you slowly “taper off” by gradually using less of the drug.
Easing withdrawal symptoms
As previously mentioned, drugs used during medication-assisted therapy can help to ease withdrawal symptoms associated with detox. When you are addicted to opioids and stop using them, it can result in withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be life-threatening. The symptoms occur because your body has adjusted to the drug and now does not know how to cope without it. MAT can help to reduce these symptoms, so they are easier to manage.
When combined with behavioral therapy, MAT therapy can significantly increase the odds that you will successfully overcome your opioid (or other substance addiction) and achieve long-term sobriety.
How Does MAT Differ from Other Addiction Treatment?
Medication-assisted therapy has proven to be a clinically effective addiction treatment. Also, when utilized as a part of a comprehensive treatment program, MAT can significantly reduce the need for extensive detox services, which are generally the first step in any addiction treatment program. While traditional addiction treatment models have proven their success many times over, MAT provides a more comprehensive, uniquely tailored approach to addiction treatment through selective medication use combined with behavioral therapy.
If you or a loved one struggles with substance addiction are ready to seek treatment in California, contact Rise in Malibu today.