Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
In some cases, the best way to address substance abuse is with other drugs. This can sound strange and dangerous if not handled properly, but it is becoming an established practice known as Medication Assisted Treatment or MAT. Of course, the drugs being used are medications and not hard drugs like those we are trying to recover from at treatment facilities.
The process of detoxification and recovery from substance abuse involves drastic effects on the body. Through the use of alcohol and drugs, the body’s physiology, including your brain and other aspects of your neurological system, have been disrupted or changed. This means there are two main options available: continue with the substance abuse, which will lead to continued and worsening dysfunction within the body, or remove the substance. Unfortunately, because these changes have already begun through substance abuse, removing the substance can also cause problems. The body is not functioning the way it used to anymore because the substances have changed you. Over time, your body will begin to recover and adapt, returning to normal functionality. This does not happen immediately, though.
Medication-assisted treatment seeks to address the gap between the addictive substance being removed and the body’s return to normal functioning. Wherever it is possible, we would prefer to do this without medications, as these can sometimes introduce the possibility of other issues or addictive problems. However, in some cases, the withdrawal and dependency are too great to overcome without medication. In these cases, we seek to be as careful as possible to ensure there are no additional issues.
The Use of Medication-assisted Treatment
In general, medication-assisted treatment is just one part of a program or treatment plan combined with counseling and behavioral therapies. Medication-assisted treatment may be used to address addiction to opioids (heroin and prescription pain relievers) as well as alcohol addiction. Some of the main goals of the prescribed medication include the following:
- Normalize brain chemistry
- Block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids
- Relieve physiological cravings
- Normalize body functions without the negative and euphoric effects of the substance previously abused
By utilizing appropriate medications, the above goals can be met to help patients overcome, or at least reduce the intensity of, some of the most significant elements of the detoxification process. Some of the drugs which may be used in the process include the following:
- Suboxone, Subutex, and Sublocade (brand names for buprenorphine)
- Vivitrol and ReVia (brand names for naltrexone)
Here at Cycles of Change Recovery, we are cautious about using medications for medication-assisted treatment. Our goal is to be recovered and have all dangerous substances removed from the body, as one can imagine. It is much preferred for us to start the process of recovery and sobriety without the need for medication-assisted treatment. If the cravings or withdrawal symptoms are too severe, however, we employ the following methodology when using MAT medications:
- Careful evaluation for medication-assisted treatment
- Thorough education about the medication and its side effects
- Required residence in a monitored and supportive (abstinent) environment during medication usage
These methods help us ensure that only those who need medications for this process get them and ensure that the medications are appropriately used. Just like other drugs, these medications can be abused, so it is imperative that they are used carefully and tapered off of as soon as possible. Their function is only to help patients get from a state of dependency to a state of recovery. When the body’s functions have begun normalizing, these medications are no longer needed to assist treatment.
Effectiveness of Medication-assisted Treatment
In recent years, increased studies have been done indicating Medication-assisted Treatment results, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved medications like those listed above for use in this process. Some of the results of Medication-assisted Treatment include the following:
- Improvement of patient survival
- Increase of retention in treatment
- Decrease of illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
- Increase in patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment
- Improvement in birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant
Deciding which medication should be used, in what amount, and for what duration can be a difficult process, which is why our team at Cycles of Change Recovery is prepared to help individuals in this process. Since every situation can be different subtly, we work with each patient to determine the best way to recover.
Tapering of Medication-Assisted Treatment Medications
Removing the abused substance, introducing a new medication, and then decreasing it appropriately is also complicated and requires professional support and attention to be carried out effectively. At our drug treatment program in the Antelope Valley, you will receive caring and intensive one-on-one counseling, as well as participate in group therapy, support groups, and other therapeutic activities each day. Many of our patients do not end up participating in medication-assisted treatment. For those that do, we schedule the timeframe for tapering off the medication after the detox.
Our program can help to bring the structure back into your life. The professional team here at Cycles of Change Recovery will be a guiding hand to lead individuals on the path of recovery. We know how intimidating and sometimes frightening drug and alcohol addiction can be, so we endeavor to set up an environment that eliminates as many of these fears as possible. It is common for our clients and patients to begin relaxing even after the first day as they realize that there is an end in sight to their addiction.
Cycles of Change Recovery Services
Addiction is a serious and complicated issue. Difficulties with the possibility of overdose, withdrawal, or co-occurring mental disorders serve only to compound the difficult nature of substance abuse. The last thing that any of us wants is to miss an opportunity to get the needed help.
Because of the dangers involved in addiction and substance abuse, it is of great importance that helps in the form of treatment is sought out as soon as possible. At Cycles of Change Recovery Services, we want to come alongside those struggling with addiction and withdrawal symptoms to transition into recovery. We offer 24/7 on-site medical help and supervision, counseling, and consistent care to facilitate the process of healing. Please review our various programs to see what meets the situation or need. It is also recommended to review our accreditation, staff, and facility, so that you can be confident Cycles of Change Recovery is the right path for you or your loved one.
-  SAMHSA, “Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment, Accessed 3/28/21.
-  Ibid.
-  Ibid.
-  https://cyclesofchangerecovery.com/programs/
-  https://cyclesofchangerecovery.com/about/accreditation/
-  https://cyclesofchangerecovery.com/about/staff/
-  https://cyclesofchangerecovery.com/about/palmdale/