Is It Possible To Get Sober Without Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?
The first days and weeks of sobriety can feel like an uphill battle. Between the painful withdrawal symptoms you experience when you stop taking drugs and alcohol and the incessant cravings that creep up at the worst times, staying sober can feel like an insurmountable task. The good news is the FDA has approved a variety of medications that can be combined with behavioral therapy and counseling to help you successfully overcome your addiction.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) may not be right for everyone. You may have even heard rumors about various controversies surrounding this treatment approach. However, when used correctly, MAT can be a powerful tool in your treatment program and recovery.
What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and When is it Used?
SAMHSA 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.” All medications used in MAT are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are clinically proven to help individuals sustain sobriety.
Contrary to a popular misconception, MAT does not mean patients are replacing one drug with another. Rather, it provides medication that can support individuals while they are actively participating in behavioral therapy, counseling, and support groups. Research has found that a combination of pharmacological treatment and therapy can successfully treat addiction.
Medication-assisted treatment is primarily used to treat opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder. There are currently no MAT medications approved for the treatment of benzodiazepine or stimulant addiction.
If you seek treatment for opioid or alcohol addiction, you may be given the option of a medication-assisted approach.
Does Everyone With an Addiction to Alcohol or Opioids Have to Participate in MAT?
Medication-assisted treatment is the gold standard when it comes to treating opioid addiction and severe alcohol use disorder. However, MAT isn’t right for everyone.
People who are diagnosed with a mild to moderate substance use disorder may not need medications. These individuals may benefit from therapy and support groups only. If your addiction isn’t severe, you may not need to participate in MAT.
Even if your treatment program encourages you to do MAT, you don’t have to. No treatment program can force you to receive care that you do not consent to.
Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment For Opioid and Alcohol Use Disorders
There are many ways medication-assisted treatment helps improve treatment outcomes. Benefits of this approach include:
- Increased treatment retention
- Improved ability to gain and maintain employment
- Decreased illicit opioid use
- Decreased drug-related criminal activity
- Increased rates of patient survival
- Improved birth outcomes in babies who are born to mothers who are addicted to opioids or alcohol
- Reduced risk of relapse
- Reduced risk of transmitting or contracting HIV/AIDS and Viral Hepatitis
According to SAMHSA, MAT can also reduce the need for inpatient detoxification services. Bypassing the inpatient detox portion of treatment allows patients to begin therapy and healing sooner. Also, by decreasing withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings, MAT is thought to provide a more comprehensive, individualized approach to recovery.
Can I Get Sober Without MAT?
Of course! There are many paths of recovery and there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to addiction treatment. Everyone has their own unique needs, challenges, and treatment goals. Thousands of people have successfully gotten sober without medication-assisted treatment. Although MAT can improve treatment outcomes, it is not a required component of recovery or treatment.
The truth is, getting sober isn’t easy. And, if you are addicted to alcohol and opioids, there are pharmacological tools available to help you deal with symptoms of withdrawal and cravings. While you have every right to opt out of a medication-assisted approach, doing so means your withdrawals and cravings may be more severe than they would be if you were taking medication for them.
If you choose to get sober without using MAT, you’ll need to make sure you are highly motivated in your recovery, dedicated to attending your therapy sessions, and surrounded by a support group of strong, sober individuals. But, if your doctor or substance abuse counselor recommends a MAT approach, it may be something you should consider.
While some people believe using medications to get sober is simply replacing one substance with another, this just isn’t true. The medications that are approved to treat opioid and alcohol use disorders have undergone thorough testing and clinical application. They are evidence-based and really work. They have proved to be a highly effective treatment method for addiction and are always used in combination with behavioral therapy and counseling.
Find Out if Medication-Assisted Treatment in Massachusetts is Right For You
Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment provides each patient with their own individual treatment plan that is unique to their specific needs. Medication-assisted treatment is only one treatment option we offer. Our programs are diverse, evidence-based, and have your best interest at heart. To find out if MAT is right for you, give us a call today.