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Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Prevent Relapse?

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can medication assisted treatment help prevent relapse
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The primary goal of addiction treatment is to overcome addiction and learn the skills you need to achieve long-term sobriety. Unfortunately, addiction is a disease that is of chronic nature. That means some people relapse, or make a return to drug or alcohol use after an attempt to stop. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 40 and 60% of people who seek substance abuse treatment relapse at some point in their recovery journey.[1]

Effective treatment looks for ways to minimize relapse risk among patients. The best way to do this is by providing a highly individualized approach that helps you identify and treat the root causes of your addiction. However, focusing on personal recovery and inner healing isn’t easy when you’re distracted by symptoms of withdrawal or incessant drug cravings.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based approach to addiction treatment that can help you prevent relapse and stay engaged in your recovery program.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

Medication-assisted treatment, commonly referred to as “MAT,” is an integrated approach to addiction treatment that combines behavioral therapy, counseling, and FDA-approved medications. This comprehensive approach to recovery is thought to provide “whole-patient” healing to patients struggling with opioid or alcohol dependency.[2]

A medication-assisted treatment program typically consists of:

  • Medically-supervised detox
  • Inpatient and/or outpatient rehab
  • Group and individual therapies
  • Medication management
  • Long-term aftercare

Medications used to treat opioid use disorder include:[3]

  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone

These medications are used during detox to alleviate symptoms of opioid withdrawal. They are also used during treatment and aftercare to help individuals cope with opioid drug cravings. By reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings, medication-assisted treatment can help you prevent relapse.

Medications used to treat alcohol use disorder include:[3]

  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate
  • Campral
  • Disulfiram

These medications are used after detox is complete to help restore normal brain chemistry and reduce the severity of alcohol cravings. In doing so, these medications can help minimize relapse risk.

Understanding the Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

By treating symptoms of withdrawal as well as cravings, MAT offers many benefits to eligible patients. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the benefits of MAT include:[2]

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment
  • Improve birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant
  • Reduce the risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C by reducing the potential for relapse

How Can Medication-Assisted Treatment Help Prevent Relapse?

The primary reason why MAT is so popular is that it improves treatment outcomes and prevents relapse. In fact, MAT can help you avoid relapse during all three stages of your recovery.

medication assisted treatment helps to prevent relapse

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Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is a leader in the addiction treatment field, with proven success in facilitating long-term recovery. Our team of top clinical & medical experts specializes in treating addiction coupled with mental illness, ensuring that each person receives individualized care. Call us – we’re available 24/day, 7 days/week.

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During Detox

The top cause of relapse during detox is the intolerable withdrawal symptoms that occur when you first stop using drugs and alcohol. A combination of flu-like physical symptoms and agonizing psychological symptoms can make you crave drugs or alcohol so badly that you give in to your cravings and get high. But, when you are taking MAT medications that reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and alleviate cravings, you have a major advantage.

Medications like buprenorphine or methadone can help you avoid the worst of your withdrawal symptoms so that you are more likely to stay in detox and stick to your recovery program.

In Treatment

Even after the physical symptoms of withdrawal wear off, you may still struggle with psychological symptoms of restlessness, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and cravings. These symptoms can make it difficult to stay motivated and focused in your recovery. However, the medications used in MAT are clinically proven to increase treatment retention. This is because medications can reduce the intensity and frequency of drug cravings while also helping to stabilize your brain chemistry so you feel better faster.

After Rehab

By the time you finish rehab, you will be equipped with a variety of coping skills and local resources that can help you prevent relapse, but that doesn’t mean cravings won’t occur every now and again. Continuing to take MAT medications in a medication management program can help keep your cravings at bay so you can focus on what’s most important–staying sober. Not only that, but regular visits with your doctor to discuss your treatment will help hold you accountable.

Prevent Relapse With Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in Massachusetts

Although relapse is sometimes considered a normal part of recovery, it can be very dangerous and even deadly in some circumstances. By reducing the risk for relapse and improving treatment outcomes, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can offer you a way out of addiction that works the first time. If you or someone close to you has been suffering at the hands of addiction of any type or severity. Woburn Wellness Addiction Treatment is available to help. Our comprehensive program of clinical care is unlike any other in the area – we consistently provide the highest quality of care available in a highly personalized and integrated treatment setting. Don’t wait any longer to get the life-changing help you deserve. Call now to speak with a team member about getting started.


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Medically Reviewed By

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC Clinical Director
Learn about Inessa Maloney

Inessa Maloney, MS, LMHC has been dedicated to the mental health and substance abuse field for a decade, providing her expertise to guarantee quality and accuracy.

  • Specializes in outpatient services with a focus on substance abuse
  • Expertise in reality-based therapy, CBT/DBT, and motivational interviewing
  • Holds a Master’s Degree in Professional Counseling
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