Visibly shaking, shivering with goosebumps and dripping sweat, a young man wraps himself in his arms while bent over the toilet. Meanwhile, in Woodland Hills, California, another young man also detoxing from narcotics sleeps well, eats well and regains his strength more comfortably. Two young men suffering from the same disease of addiction undertake their recovery journeys in two very different ways. What differentiates their experiences? Medication assisted therapy.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) describes an addiction treatment plan that combines behavioral therapy with medication therapy. An evidence-backed treatment, MAT offers the best and most comfortable detox available today while setting up a positive induction to addiction recovery.
People struggling with opioid addiction have better outcomes and are more likely to stay in treatment when they endure fewer or lighter withdrawal symptoms.
Behavioral Therapy for Addiction Treatment
Behavioral therapy used as a treatment for drug and alcohol abuse can encompass several types of therapies:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Individual and group therapy
- Holistic treatment
- Addiction counseling
- Art or music therapy
Any combination of the above-mentioned therapies or the inclusion of other cognitive behavioral strategies can be considered part of a program’s behavioral therapy.
When a person struggles with addiction, the ability at which the individual learns to change their behaviors and rehabilitate their lives can be a predictor of their level of achievement in 1) leading a recovery lifestyle and 2) avoiding relapse.
Medication Therapy for Addiction Treatment
Medication assisted therapy, also known as pharmacotherapy, has been studied for its efficacy in treating opioid addiction with medication. And the results? Put simply, MAT works.
More and more opioid treatment facilities are utilizing this form of treatment and standardizing MAT as the opioid treatment in the U.S. In fact, it has already become the universal standard in Canada.
The reason MAT is becoming the preferred method of treatment stems from its harm-reduction potential. Studies have shown that people are less likely to harm themselves (intentionally or unintentionally) when using a medication taper, particularly in a heroin addiction treatment program.
When individuals have time and help to adjust physically and psychologically to get off their drug of choice, they are significantly less likely to:
- Use illicit street drugs
- Contract HIV
- Continually relapse
- Overdose or die from drug use
Medication Assisted Therapy for Treating Drug Addiction
Currently, there are only three drugs approved by the FDA for treating opioid addiction with medication. The types of medications used in MAT are:
Health care providers must be SAMHSA certified to provide Medication assisted therapy for addiction. Harmony Place employs certified and licensed providers, enabling us to offer the option of MAT during the detox and, even, inpatient stages of treatment.
Methadone is an opioid analgesic (pain reliever). It works much in the same way as other opioids do to control pain. However, it’s most common purpose is to ease withdrawal symptoms from other opioids.
Buprenorphine, also known as Subutex or Suboxone, is a partial opioid antagonist. It activates the opioid receptors in the brain while blocking the effects of other opioids.
Naltrexone, an opioid antagonist (opposer or inhibitor), works differently than buprenorphine and methadone by binding to and blocking the opioid receptors in the brain.
MAT Is Controversial
Although heroin detox using Medication assisted therapy can be a controversial subject for some, it is a common misconception that MAT is simply substituting one drug for another. Some also object to the specific medications that are involved in this form of treatment.
In actuality, these medications relieve withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that would otherwise cause physical discomfort and chemical imbalances in the body.
It is a fact that methadone and buprenorphine carry the risk potential for addiction. These medications stimulate controversy because, when given as a long-term maintenance drug, especially by questionable clinics, methadone, Suboxone and Subutex can cause a physical dependency that can be just as difficult as heroin to stop taking.
However, when using the doctor-prescribed medication in lieu of a dirty, illicit needle filled with heroin, a patient can be monitored and have access to further medical care if necessary. MAT is a safe and effective way to ease the patient into a sustainable recovery. All doses are supervised by a physician and regulated by the government. MAT makes it possible for people in recovery to go to work and have a manageable life — unlike those abusing heroin and other narcotics.
Safe Opioid Detox in California
Both safe and effective, MAT may save the life of your loved one. Families looking for a way to help a loved one addicted to heroin, opioids or prescription painkillers should consider the MAT program at Harmony Place. It can help your family member find a reasonable way to make sobriety work for them.
It is important to keep in mind that MAT is only one slice of the pie when it comes to addiction treatment. Medication-involved treatment is only deployed in conjunction with a complete regimen of services to aid in the client’s whole recovery — mind, body and soul.
Remember that Medication assisted therapy for addiction treatment has a much higher success rate than other forms of treatment. It is backed by strong evidence and has shown lessen the risks of self-harm and relapse.