Medication Assisted Treatment
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), medication assisted treatment “combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders.” Most often, medication assisted treatment, or MAT, involves the use of medications like buprenorphine, suboxone or methadone. Depending on the doctor, the patient, and the using history, courses of treatment can last anywhere from a few days, to a few weeks, to years.
What Does Medication Assisted Treatment Include?
As SAMHSA explains, medication assisted treatment is the combination of behavioral therapy and medication to treat addiction. Essentially, medication assisted treatment is any program that allows for the use of evidence-based medication management processes or experimental new drugs in addition to the behavioral and therapeutic parts of a program. For example, in conjunction with lectures on the neuroscience of addiction, communication skills, and understanding 12 Step philosophy, a client at a treatment center would also be taking medications to support their sobriety. If this doesn’t sound controversial, it is because “medication” sounds assuming. Why wouldn’t a challenging treatment process be supported by helpful medications?
The Controversy of Medication Assisted Treatment
As a whole, the treatment industry for drug and alcohol addiction is young. It was only about 80 plus years ago that Bill Wilson founded the globally-renowned 12 Step program Alcoholics Anonymous. At the time, the AA program was the only solution seeming to work for alcoholism. Over the years there has been struggle and controversy to prove the legitimacy of the program. However, since its foundation and the growth of the treatment industry, over 90 percent of facilities claim to base their model on AA which usually requires total abstinence.
Treatment for drug and alcohol addiction has truly evolved, introducing new methods for addiction treatment along the way, including medications. Well-known medications for recovery support like suboxone or methadone are controversial because they still contain traces of opioids in them. A small amount of opioid helps patients to wean off of their drugs of choice, from heroin to meth to painkillers. Opioid withdrawal is one of the hardest to withstand and has a high rate of relapse. Many view MAT as successful because it prevents patients from relapsing or picking up harmful opioid abuse habits again.
Conservative proabstinence people believe that taking such medications isn’t true recovery or sobriety because a patient still has mind-altering narcotic substances in their body. Patients can become chemically dependent upon medications like suboxone, essentially creating a new addiction. Without the presence of the drug, patients report feeling afraid of using heroin or other drugs. As soon as their prescription runs out or if they are caught without the medication, patients suffer symptoms of withdrawal.
Considering the deep and cruel hold drug addiction takes on a person, it is easy to see how many might not regard such a lifestyle as freedom. Sobriety and recovery is about freedom for the control of substances. Though medication assisted treatment is beneficial in the short term, it can be problematic and even damaging in the future.
What Sound Recovery Solutions Thinks About Medication Assisted Treatment
For detox purposes, Sound Recovery Solutions supports medication assisted treatment. Each client that comes to us is treated as a unique individual with special and specific needs for their treatment. We only ask that our clients be open minded to doing recovery without medication assisted treatment. We strongly encourage clients to believe in their abilities to withstand withdrawal and learn to live through the intensity of life without opioid support. However we do support the needs of our clients who feel that medication assisted treatment is right for them.
Sound Recovery Solutions provides MAT maintenance for clients who qualify and struggle with chronic relapse. Though MAT can cause dependency, in cases of a chronic relapse case, MAT can help ensure an ability to recover and grow by keeping someone away from the drug that brought them to us. Relapse after periods of sobriety can cause overdose, which is often fatal. For those who demonstrate a willingness and ability to participate in all areas of our program, Sound Recovery Solutions is prepared to oblige in supporting their medication assisted treatment.