At this point, most people in the addiction treatment world have probably heard of medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, which refers to treatment programs that use medications in combination with behavioral techniques like therapy and group counseling to treat addiction. MAT is most commonly used in the treatment of opioid addiction, but some people may receive MAT services when undergoing treatment for alcoholism.
MAT is just one of the treatment options available for addiction, and not everyone may be in agreement with it. In fact, opponents argue that MAT simply replaces one addiction with another. In reality, this is not the case, as medications used in MAT are safe and effective when prescribed and monitored by a doctor. In contrast, street drugs are not only illegal but can be laced with other dangerous substances, making them far riskier than MAT.
That being said, people may wonder why MAT is a better treatment option than abstinence-based programs that do not use medications. If you’re unsure about MAT, the information here can provide some insight into the advantages of MAT.
The General Benefits of MAT
Counseling and therapy certainly play an important role in addiction treatment, because they can help people to address the underlying issues that led to substance abuse and develop better ways of coping. It is for this reason that behavioral interventions are a part of MAT, but the reason that MAT is better than these behavioral techniques on their own is that medications provide unique benefits.
As the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains, medications used in MAT can correct brain chemistry that has been altered by drugs and help people to manage cravings. MAT can also deter substance abuse by blocking the high or “buzz” that people obtain from drugs and alcohol. Counseling can help people to overcome mental health issues or enhance their stress management skills, but it cannot block physiological symptoms like cravings and withdrawal the way that MAT can. In that sense, medications are so beneficial, because they allow people to feel better so they can fully participate in other aspects of treatment, like support groups, individual therapy sessions, and job training programs.
MAT and Improved Survival
Another reason that MAT is better than abstinence-based treatment is that it is quite literally life saving. In fact, a review of multiple studies shows that people who participate in MAT have a lower risk of death from any cause, as well as a reduced risk of dying from overdose. Those who stay in MAT for more than a year have the lowest risk of death, suggesting that staying on medications like Suboxone is a practical choice, regardless of some of the stigma that exists surrounding long term use of MAT. Taking a medication under the care of a doctor, even for a year or more, is undeniably a better option than continuing to use street drugs like heroin.
Other Benefits of MAT
It turns out that the benefits of MAT are numerous. According to SAMHSA, additional benefits of MAT are as follows:
- It keeps people engaged in treatment.
- It reduces illegal drug use and criminal activity.
- It is associated with better odds of getting and keeping a job.
- It lowers the risk of health problems like hepatitis C and is associated with healthier pregnancies.
The bottom line is that MAT has been shown to keep people in treatment and help them stay sober from illegal drugs. This comes with other benefits, including improved health, reduced criminal activity, and better job prospects.
For those who have not been successful in programs that utilize therapy alone, MAT is a better option, because it helps patients to manage physiological symptoms, which can sometimes be the most difficult part of getting sober. Once people get these symptoms under control with MAT, they are better prepared to fully engage in treatment and enjoy the many benefits that come with getting and staying sober.
Does Online MAT Work?
At iRecoveryUSA, we provide comprehensive addiction treatment services, including MAT, in an online format via our teletherapy platform. While this service is convenient, some people may wonder if online MAT is effective.
The good news is that research shows that it is. A recent study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine found that MAT delivered via telepsychiatry was equally as effective as in-person MAT for treating opioid addiction. Given this finding, you can rest assured that it is possible to receive quality MAT services from the convenience and safety of home.
Contact us today to learn more about our MAT services and how they can benefit you during your treatment journey.