5 Reasons To Consider Medication-Assisted Treatment
18 August, 2021
There is a lot of unnecessary fear and misinformation around medication-assisted treatment (MAT). The truth is, medications like buprenorphine, methadone, naltrexone, etc. are incredibly effective, safe, and essential components of many people’s long-term addiction recovery. There is a reason that medication-assisted treatment is referred to as the “gold-standard” of addiction treatment. The Edge Treatment Center is a MAT-friendly addiction treatment center because evidence-based treatment is a valuable asset in the fight against addiction.
Here are some reasons medication-assisted treatment may be right for you.
Medication-Assisted Treatment Reduces Relapse
One study found that regular maintenance users of buprenorphine were 10x less likely to relapse. (Tkacz et al., 2011, p. 60) That essentially reduces your risk of overdose death by 10x. Relapse and overdose are more life-threatening now than ever, with powerful drugs like fentanyl available.
Relapse can be incredibly dangerous, particularly after detox from drugs. Once we detox we become “opiate-naïve” (or “substance-naive”), meaning we can no longer handle the dosage we once could. At this point, relapse is much more likely to result in overdose, especially if our drug of choice is opiates.
It is of course important to have dialectical behavioral therapy and build other techniques into our relapse prevention plan. However, medication-assisted treatment suppresses cravings on a physical level. Many have found success in utilizing Sublocade, Subutex, methadone, etc. in breaking their relapse cycle and maintaining long-term addiction recovery. Any edge we can give ourselves to overcome addiction is something we should strongly consider.
There is no shame in giving yourself the tools necessary to combat the very real risks of relapse.
Medical Detox is Much Safer
You may already know this: medical detox is much safer and much less painful than quitting “cold-turkey”.
Any detox should be supervised by medical personnel, because of the significant risks involved. Medications help ease many symptoms of detoxification and decrease our risk of major medical concerns such as seizures and delirium tremens. In many cases, medical detox is how we prepare our bodies for recovery.
Medications that ease symptoms of detox and curb cravings are the same used in medication-assisted treatment: buprenorphine, methadone, or naltrexone.
For many, it makes sense to continue the use of these medications to supplement inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs. There is a high risk of relapse after detoxification, and there is no shame in continuing to utilize medication to curb cravings. Those who utilize medication for recovery maintenance report that they do not feel a “high,”, but rather a cessation of cravings.
So, if you are considering medical detox, you may also want to continue medication as a form of maintenance in early recovery.
Dual Diagnosis Benefits
If you, like 30% of those with substance use disorder, have a co-occurring disorder alongside substance use disorder, medication-assisted treatment may be a good choice. One study found that those who took prescribed medication for psychiatric disorders in addition to medication-assisted treatment had a 5% likelihood of a positive drug screening at the six-month mark. (Saunders et al., 2015, p. 730)
Put another way, you are 95% likely to remain in recovery, without use, for six months with proper medications for substance use disorder and mood disorders. That is a metric of success that we don’t often see in addiction treatment and is highly encouraging for our dual diagnosis populations.
This is an incredibly hopeful sign that we are improving the efficacy of addiction treatment overall. The combination of behavioral therapies, treatments for psychiatric disorders, and medication-assisted treatments have success rates that are unparalleled thus far.
If you suffer from a dual diagnosis, this may be the sign you need to give medication-assisted treatment a try, particularly if other options have not worked well for you.
Increased Rates of Long-term Addiction Treatment
You may have seen claims that recovery is possible with 30, 60, or 90-day addiction treatment programs. As we’ve said before, long-term treatment more often leads to long-term addiction recovery.
Essentially, long-term outpatient addiction treatment gives us the opportunity to work on ourselves in a safe space with a community focused on recovery. It offers us the opportunity to focus on behavioral therapies and on rebuilding our goals, our relationships, and our stability.
The best addiction treatment programs help you to build a foundation for a life in recovery that you’re excited about. They give you the time and the space to find your passions and find your sense of fun again.
So how do we engage with treatment programs for longer and give ourselves the best chance of success and happiness?
Medication-assisted treatment has been shown to significantly increase “treatment retention”. This means that certain medications decrease physical symptoms enough that we can do the emotional and social work of addiction recovery.
If you have tried multiple forms of abstinence-based treatments before, medication-assisted treatment is likely a good choice for you.
One more time, why is medication-assisted treatment right for many?
Medication-assisted treatment has been proven successful for many because it prevents relapse in the long term. It cannot be overstated that relapse represents one of the highest risks for overdose deaths. Medication-assisted treatment is already used by many for medical detox, leads to longer stays with treatment programs, and has been proven very effective for dual-diagnosis.
If you have tried other forms of addiction treatment without success, medication-assisted treatment may well be right for you.
If you need help finding the best addiction treatment for you, we are always here. Give us a message or a call below:
Saunders, E. C., McGovern, M. P., Lambert-Harris, C., Meier, A., McLeman, B., & Xie, H. (2015). The impact of addiction medications on treatment outcomes for persons with co-occurring PTSD and opioid use disorders. The American Journal on Addictions, 24(8), 722–731. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajad.12292
Tkacz, J., Severt, J., Cacciola, J., & Ruetsch, C. (2011). Compliance with Buprenorphine Medication-Assisted Treatment and Relapse to Opioid Use. The American Journal on Addictions, 21(1), 55–62. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1521-0391.2011.00186.x