Is MAT Right for Me? 5 Key Considerations When Choosing Treatment

Who can participate in MAT?

Seeking help for substance use disorder is a brave step towards recovery. Facing the growing problem of opioid consumption in the United States, medical and scientific advances have led to the development of unconventional treatments for those who have not succeeded with traditional approaches. One treatment option gaining popularity is Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT). MAT involves the use of FDA-approved medications, designed by physicians and clinical pharmacologists, to address substance dependence, minimize withdrawal symptoms, which often play a significant role in relapses, promote safe detoxing, and help your recovery be as smooth as possible. If this treatment resonates with you or a loved one struggling with substance use, you might be asking: Who can participate in MAT? In this blog by MAT Care Clinics, we will provide a guide on what medication-assisted treatment entails and highlight five key considerations to remember when choosing a substance use disorder treatment.

MAT Overview

Medication-assisted treatment is an approach in which licensed physicians create a treatment plan utilizing medications such as buprenorphine, naltrexone, and methadone to assist individuals with issues related to alcohol and opioids. Each medication helps alleviate withdrawal symptoms, improve psychological cravings, and even stabilize brain chemicals. To determine the type of medication to prescribe, a doctor must assess the patient’s background, the severity of addiction, and the substances to which they are dependent, among other factors, ensuring effective recovery.

Physicians personalize treatment plans to meet the unique needs of each patient, whether addressing substance abuse, facilitating the detoxification process, aiding in maintaining sobriety, or preventing overdoses.

For those with drug dependence, medications used in MAT reduce the euphoric effects of opioids, making them less desirable and preventing severe withdrawal symptoms that impact the patient’s health and well-being while supporting the detoxification process.

For those with alcohol dependence, the treatment works to alleviate initial cravings after cessation and the discomfort that comes with recovery. Addressing withdrawal symptoms and the physical effects of substance cessation helps prevent relapses and promotes treatment retention.

Higher Success Rates

The path to substance use disorder recovery is long and complex, necessitating the proper support for success. Addressing withdrawal symptoms allows individuals to focus on their goals and recovery. According to the South Dakota Department of Social Services, up to 90% of MAT patients maintain sobriety at the two-year mark. Likewise, to guarantee the success of the program, it is essential that the patient rigorously follows the recommendations, doses, and frequency that the doctor in charge of the treatment suggests.

However, it is crucial that before embarking on the path to recovery, individuals evaluate the different treatment options according to their needs. Here, we will guide you through a comprehensive list of considerations and needs that you and your medical provider should consider to understand if medication-assisted treatment is the ideal option.

Assessing Treatment Needs

  1. Type of Substance Use Disorder:

Experts typically recommend MAT to treat individuals with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), and, in some cases, nicotine dependence. A certified medical provider must evaluate and determine if a patient meets the characteristics and diagnostic criteria to receive an official diagnosis of these disorders. Those meeting the mentioned disorders’ diagnostic criteria may consider MAT a suitable option.

According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, principal signs and symptoms of opioid use disorder encompass substance-seeking behaviors, legal or social ramifications due to opioid use, multiple opioid prescriptions from different doctors, medical complications from opioid use, cravings, escalating consumption over time, and withdrawal symptoms upon cessation.

  1. Medical History:

Your medical history, including any existing physical or mental conditions, plays a critical role, as it can affect the efficacy and safety of medication-assisted treatment. It is essential to consider other medications you’re taking and concurrent health issues when treating substance use disorders (SUD) with MAT. The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare notes a higher prevalence of SUD among individuals with anxiety and mood disorders.

Comprehensive assessment of a patient’s medication and addressing co-existing conditions through therapy is vital to ensure treatment success, targeting not only physical symptoms but also emotional and psychological aspects.

  1. Severity of Addiction:

It’s crucial to consider the severity of addiction to determine the most effective treatment approach. Professionals specializing in substance use disorders often recommend MAT for individuals with moderate to severe substance abuse disorders. Moreover, if you have attempted other forms of treatment and have repeatedly experienced relapses or struggled with cravings, MAT can be a valuable addition to your treatment plan.

  1. Previous Treatment Attempts:

Combating substance dependence with medication can be a practical approach for patients who have tried another form of treatment unsuccessfully. MAT offers a comprehensive strategy when combined with counseling, addressing both the physical and psychological aspects of substance dependence. When contemplating treatment for achieving sobriety, reflect on your past experiences with detoxification, rehabilitation, or counseling to determine if the medication-assisted methodology aligns with your needs.

  1. Personal Preferences:

MAT is an approach that requires time; depending on each patient’s needs and context, completing a treatment program could take months, years, or even a lifetime. Additionally, MAT is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Some individuals may prefer a medication-free approach, while others may find support and efficacy with MAT.

What to Expect From MAT

Medication-assisted treatment is an effective and safe approach but requires time and commitment. The exact duration of the program is entirely individual and depends on the severity of the addiction. Nevertheless, a treatment addressing withdrawal symptoms is often highly beneficial as these symptoms can be pretty dangerous. While nothing can make the detoxification process easy, it can reduce the danger and severity of symptoms during the process.

Patients need to be committed throughout the months or years that the program designed by the physician lasts, enabling them to live a drug-free life and succeed with the treatment.

Additionally, adhering to the doctor’s recommendations is essential, as the type of medication, dosage, and frequency depend solely on medical judgment, and non-compliance with these guidelines can have serious consequences.

Combining MAT with Therapy for Better Outcomes

As mentioned before, individuals struggling with substance use disorders often also suffer from co-existing conditions like anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorders. Furthermore, those who have experienced childhood traumas are more susceptible to substance dependence. While MAT addresses the physical aspects of detoxification, psychosocial treatment focuses on the emotional and social factors that contribute to a patient’s substance use. The combination of medication and therapeutic support yields superior results for either treatment.

MAT Care Clinics – Your Path to Sobriety in New England

MAT Care Clinics is at the forefront of addressing the growing opioid crisis in New England, working tirelessly to provide the support individuals need to achieve sobriety. In our center located in Nashua, New Hampshire, we cater to those in the New England area seeking recovery from opioid and alcohol dependence. Every day, we strive to make the journey to sobriety convenient and accessible through our medication-assisted treatment. To schedule a free consultation with our specialists, call (833) 622-0628 or contact us online. MAT may be the approach you need to reclaim your life!

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