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Many people find themselves at a plateau at some point in recovery, having tried different treatment programs and therapy modalities, only to feel like they need something more, but don’t know where to turn.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is another treatment option that uses medication to help alleviate physical and mental blocks to long-term recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, MAT is an effective component of treatment for treating substance abuse disorder when combined with psychotherapy or counseling.

If you feel like you’ve tried everything, but addiction is still controlling too many aspects of your life, consider adding medication to your treatment plan. With the help of a psychiatrist, you can benefit from one of the commonly used substances for MAT.

Medication-assisted treatment is an evidence-based program that substitutes a less-risky medication for the addictive substance. These medications are legal substances prescribed by a psychiatrist in a facility designated to help the person cope through the painful period of withdrawal.

What is MAT?

These medications are safe to use, and although there are potential side effects for every medication, the negative effects may be inconsequential when held up against the potentially lethal impact of addiction to substances like alcohol, heroin, morphine and others.

Depending on the substance, the volume and frequency of usage, detox can take weeks, months or even years. The goal of MAT is that an individual will slowly wean off the medication, once dangerous or triggering withdrawal symptoms are no longer present.

MAT always includes concurrent therapy, and this has been shown to increase its effectiveness. According to the Addiction Prevention Coalition, only using prescribed medications also has the potential for abuse, making it a crucial part of treatment to simultaneously engage in therapy.

What are the most common medications used for medication assisted treatment?

You’ve likely heard of suboxone, vivitrol and other medications used to help with recovery, but are there more?

Although these are the most well-known substances to help with detox, there are plenty more. Here are the approved drugs to treat opioids and their various forms, according to the FDA

Buprenorphine:

  • Bunavail
  • Cassipa
  • Probuphine
  • Sublocade
  • Suboxone
  • Subutex
  • Zubsolv

Methadone:

  • Dolophine
  • Methadose

Naltrexone:

  • Vivitrol 

There are also helpful medications specifically to help with alcohol use disorder. The following drugs are used to treat alcohol addiction, according to SAMHSA

  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram
  • Naltrexone 

Most of the above medications assist with the following: block cravings, minimize feelings of withdrawal or block the euphoric effects of a substance. Some medications help with two – or all three – of these helpful effects.

When a person uses drugs, especially over a long period of time, the brain’s reward system is rewired. These medications can help change the way the brain interprets and responds to cravings, withdrawal and the elation associated with substance use.

It’s important to consult a medical professional for an assessment, to determine your needs, and to identify which medications will provide the greatest improvements towards sustained sobriety. 

How can MAT help me in recovery?

Prevent relapse

The main reason that people seek out MAT is to prevent relapse. Too often, the agonizing side effects of withdrawal drive people back into dangerous substance use habits. MAT uses drugs that counteract the pain and potentially harmful symptoms during this vulnerable time, so an individual has the best chance for long-term recovery.

The lowered risk of relapse has some powerful benefits. Most notably, when you participate in MAT, your chances of survival increase. Additionally, risk of criminal activity decreases, and health outcomes and employment improve. Reference Real Recovery’s free e-book to learn more about the pros of MAT.

Get help for co-occurring disorders

Consulting with a medical professional when you are participating in MAT also opens the door to discussion about treatment for other co-occurring disorders. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that about half of those affected by substance use disorder are also challenged by a mental health disorder.

This high prevalence of comorbid disorders could be an entry way for someone struggling with addiction to more intensive and appropriate treatment, and services that address the whole person. When these underlying issues are addressed, recovery will become easier.

Have a team of support

One of the most important factors in preventing relapse is the quality of your support system. When you participate in MAT, by virtue of treatment you necessarily have at least two professionals on your team: a psychiatrist to prescribe the medication, and a counselor for additional therapy.

Having multiple professionals on your side can make a huge difference in your recovery. Collaboration towards your sobriety will be your team’s top priority, and you’ll feel supported from all angles.

If you’ve tried different treatment approaches, or even tried the same treatment several times without sufficient results, it’s time to try medication-assisted treatment. You’ll quickly find that when you’re free from substances your freedom greatly increases, and taking advantage of MAT to get you there is worth it.

To get started with medication-assisted treatment today reach out to Real Recovery. Real Recovery’s sober living homes for men and women incorporate MAT into treatment from a holistic lens, serving the whole person. Call (855) 363-7325 to find out more.