Addiction and alcoholism are progressive and deadly diseases of the mind, body, and spirit. They require a whole-person approach for a full recovery. While behavioral therapy and peer support groups play a vital role in the recovery process, the FDA has approved several different medications that effectively treat opioid and alcohol use disorders. When combined with behavioral therapy and counseling, these medications can help patients in their recovery. This approach to substance abuse rehabilitation is referred to as medication-assisted treatment (MAT). As the gold standard in addiction treatment today, there are many benefits of medication-assisted treatment (MAT).
What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines medication-assisted treatment (MAT) as “the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.” Multiple studies have proven that the combination of medication and therapy can successfully treat addiction, particularly in people who struggle with opioid addiction or alcohol dependence.
Some of the most commonly prescribed medications used in MAT programs in the Boston, MA area include:
Alcohol use disorder medications –
- Acamprosate (Campral)
- Disulfiram (Antabuse)
- Naltrexone (Revia, Vivitrol)
Opioid use disorder medications –
- Buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex, Sublocade)
- Naltrexone (Revia, Vivitrol)
These medications can help reduce drug and alcohol cravings, restore regular brain chemistry, and help normalize body functions while blocking the euphoric effects of substances like alcohol and opioids. At the same time, behavioral therapies and counseling teach patients how to cope with difficult emotions, make healthy lifestyle changes, and prevent relapse.
Benefits of a Medication-Assisted Approach
MAT is a clinically proven and evidence-based approach that can offer a more comprehensive and personalized treatment program to individuals. When combined with behavioral therapy and lifestyle changes, MAT can help patients stay sober and avoid the consequences associated with substance abuse. SAMHSA outlines several advantages of this approach.
Reduced Drug and Alcohol Cravings, Withdrawal Symptoms
Medications can be administered both during detox and treatment to help reduce cravings as well as withdrawal symptoms. Medications like Methadone and Suboxone can be taken as little as 12 hours after a person’s last dose of opioids, and they can help alleviate withdrawal symptoms and restore normal body functions. Some people may continue taking these medications after detox to help reduce cravings.
When individuals aren’t distracted by their withdrawals and cravings, they are able to focus fully on their treatment plan and recovery. And, as a result, they’re less likely to relapse.
Increased Treatment Retention and Patient Survival
Patients who aren’t bogged down with intense drug cravings or persistent withdrawal symptoms will feel more comfortable and well. They are often also more likely to stay in treatment, complete their treatment program, and stay sober after rehab. Patients who are sober and healthy are also more likely to avoid a drug overdose or long-term health effects of substance abuse.
Improved Birth Outcomes Among Pregnant Women Who are Addicted to Substances
Newborns of mothers who are addicted to opioids during their pregnancy may develop neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS is characterized by severe opioid withdrawal symptoms in newborns. Additionally, mothers who stop using opioids during pregnancy may face fetal distress, premature labor, and even miscarriage. Fortunately, MAT programs in the Boston, MA area can help improve birth outcomes in babies who are born to opioid-addicted mothers. Medications like methadone and buprenorphine may be prescribed to pregnant women to help wean their body off of opioids and promote better maternal health.
Increased Ability to Find Work and Keep a Job
People who get treatment and stay sober are able to assimilate back into society as productive and independent individuals. They aren’t physically dependent on substances or impacted by the effects of substance abuse. As a result, they are able to find jobs easier, and, more importantly, maintain those jobs. It isn’t easy to maintain a job when struggling with addiction, but MAT programs promote a comprehensive recovery that allows individuals to be successful in recovery.
Reduced Rates of Criminal or Risky Behaviors
Addiction is a powerful disease that can drive people to engage in behaviors they would normally not engage in. People may drive drunk, steal money from loved ones, have unprotected sex, or share dirty needles with other people. These risky behaviors can have long-term physical and legal consequences. However, MAT can help improve the chances of recovery and reduce rates of relapse, thereby also reducing criminal or risky behavior. The combination of medications and therapies can also lower a person’s risk of developing or contracting hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS.
Find a Medication-Assisted Treatment Program Near Boston, MA
Here at Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment, patients can reap the benefits of an array of evidence-based treatment activities that, when combined with self-help, medication-assisted treatment, and spirit-centered philosophies create an intensive immersion program, designed to increase successful outcomes. Our dedication and compassion combine to provide a unique approach that separates us from other drug and alcohol treatment centers. To learn more about our rehab programs in the Boston area or to find help for a loved one, give us a call today.