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What You Should Know About Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based approach that helps people heal from substance use disorders (SUDs), especially opioid use disorder (OUD). It’s important to know all the facts before deciding if MAT is the right approach for your healing journey. In this blog, we will discuss the basics of MAT, including how it works, common treatment options, and key factors that help MAT be successful.

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines MAT as “the use of FDA-approved medications in combination with evidence-based behavioral therapies to provide a whole-patient approach to treating SUDs.”

MAT has been proven to be a helpful component in the treatment of multiple SUDs, including the following:

For some people, certain medications can give them the help they need to withstand withdrawal symptoms and cravings. The goal of MAT is to empower the client to know that long-term recovery is within reach and achievable.

How Does MAT Work?

MAT requires a team of clinicians to work together to determine a healthy, sustainable plan of care for their clients. The National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) confirms that a MAT team could include:

Each person and situation is different. No two treatment plans are going to look the same. Your needs won’t necessarily match those of another person in your treatment facility. However, there may be some evidence-based approaches that are commonly used within MAT.

What are Common Medications Used in MAT?

RAND Health Quarterly explains that MAT is typically comprised of three types of medications:

These medications can sometimes be combined, working to find the right dosage that works for your unique needs. When the medications are used correctly, and in combination with support and the proper therapies, you have a much higher likelihood of sustaining a healthy recovery.

What Are the Risks?

As is true with any medication, there could be adverse side effects that are worth evaluating with your clinician. To ensure your safety, it is always important to make sure all members of your healthcare team are aware of all medications that are being taken. That being said, the NCSACW has found that, with proper usage, “medications used in MAT have no adverse effects on a person’s intelligence, mental capability, or physical functioning.”

It is also vital that the medications be monitored and reviewed regularly to ensure that the dosage is still effective and helps you maintain recovery. When you and the clinician feel confident that it’s time, you may discontinue your MAT. However, MAT can be used for extended periods of time during and after a treatment program.

Combining MAT With a Whole-Person Approach

For MAT to be the most effective, clinicians must utilize a whole-person approach to healing. Whole-person health stresses the importance of looking at and treating the entire person rather than focusing on only surface-level symptoms or diagnoses. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) explains that whole-person health is important because “Health and disease are not separate, disconnected states but instead occur on a path that can move in two different directions, either toward health or toward disease.”

Our bodies use symptoms to indicate that something is wrong in the system. For example, if you consumed something dangerous, you may get sick. If a doctor only treats the stomach issue without asking any questions, they won’t discover the root of the problem. In the same vein, whole-person health should be a vital component of healing when handling SUDs. Treatment centers and clinicians should try to understand why you are experiencing these symptoms and help you manage your health in a way that addresses all of your symptoms.

Discovering a Dual Diagnosis

By using MAT alongside other treatments, medical teams may discover and treat underlying or undiagnosed conditions. Identifying a dual diagnosis can make the difference between a successful SUD treatment and a relapse.

For example, someone who is dealing with OUD might also have an undiagnosed anxiety disorder from unresolved trauma. In this case, the OUD could be a symptom of the root problems: unresolved trauma and an anxiety disorder. If this client is only treated for the OUD and the other factors are ignored, the OUD could persist even after the client receives treatment. Yet, if the client receives care for all of their conditions and unique needs they have a much higher chance of healing healthily.

How We Utilize MAT

Here at Sage Recovery, we use MAT – when necessary – alongside other treatment options within our recovery program. These treatment options could include individual therapy, group therapy, equine therapy, nutrition planning, and wellness groups.

Also, we firmly believe that each person deserves their own individualized plan of care. We care about you and want you to be your healthiest self. This might mean treating your other mental illnesses alongside your SUD. Our clinicians will make sure that your treatment and medications are specific to your unique needs and goals. When you have this kind of support, you are in a better position to sustain long-term success.

Taking steps toward sobriety is a major and exciting life change. Here at Sage Recovery, we know how much courage it takes to begin your healing journey. Our empathetic, licensed clinicians are ready to walk alongside you. We offer inpatient and outpatient programs for substance use disorders, dual diagnosis, and mental illnesses. All of these programs mix together traditional therapies like dialectical behavior therapy with holistic therapies. Additionally, MAT may be used, when appropriate and necessary, to assist in your cessation of substances. Our team will help you through the most challenging moments. When you want to take steps towards a healthier life, we are ready to support you. Call us anytime at (512) 306-1394.