medication-assisted treatment

When treating a Substance Use Addiction, it’s understandable that the term “Medication-Assisted Treatment” (MAT) might not make sense. Why would you use drugs on someone who is attempting to stop using drugs? 

Medication-Assisted Treatment means using appropriate medications in combination with behavioral therapies and counseling to treat substance addiction. MAT should be utilized only by healthcare professionals and is common when first detoxing from a drug.

If you or a loved one have previously attempted treatment, or this would be your first time, we encourage you to learn more about what we offer at Emerge Healing Center in Alpharetta, GA. We’re here and hope to enter into your recovery journey with you. 

Is Medication-Assisted Treatment Safe

When used appropriately and by a healthcare professional, yes, Medication-Assisted Treatment is safe. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains that “research shows that a combination of medication and therapy can successfully treat substance use disorders, and for some medications can help sustain recovery. Medications are also used to prevent or reduce opioid overdose.”

Additionally, all drugs used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and tailored to meet each client’s individual needs. MAT is not substituting one drug for another but instead reduces health risks in withdrawals. Evidence suggests this also gives individuals a higher chance of not relapsing. 

What Happens With Medication-Assisted Treatment

When using Medication-Assisted Treatment, the first step is evaluating the individual. Each person’s story and needs are different which influences their treatment plan. If the person does need to detox, MAT is often recommended. Evaluating the individual can include specific tests and blood work. Mental health is also looked at in detox centers and treated appropriately. 

If recommended, the individual would either go to an approved detox center or detox on-site at their treatment center, if available. The approved medication would then be administered, dispensed, and prescribed by a healthcare professional. The detox team puts together a plan specific for you which may include monitored medicine to help with the withdrawal symptoms and alleviate any other issues. During this process, the individual stays at the detox center 24/7 to get the best possible care and help them be stable enough to move on to a treatment center. 

Currently, the FDA has a handful of medications approved for MAT. 

For Alcohol Use Disorder, these include:

  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram
  • Naltrexone

For Opioid Use Disorder, approved drugs include:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone 

Although using medication may seem strange if you’re trying to get an individual off drugs, these FDA-approved medicines are usually essential to the process and only used when deemed necessary by a medical professional.

When detox is complete, it is up to the team on each individual’s case to determine if continuing MAT is needed, or if behavioral therapies and counseling alone are enough.

How Medications Assist with Overdose and Detox

So, why and how does Medication-Assisted Treatment work? First, you have to understand that addiction is a disease and alters the chemistry of the brain of the addict. The approved drugs have proven to normalize brain chemistry, relieve cravings, block the wanted effects of the drug of choice, and bring normal bodily functions back to a healthy state. 

Let’s talk a little more about the benefits of MAT with detox. Although sometimes overlooked, detox can be vital in the success of substance addiction recovery. When a person is addicted to drugs or alcohol, their chances of experiencing negative withdrawal symptoms are high. Bodies become dependent on the drug of choice. Without the drug in their system, they experience harmful physical side effects, including death in extreme cases.

At this point, detox comes into play. This helps individuals safely come off whatever drug is in their bodies, often with the assistance of MAT. The detox center’s goal is to get rid of any drug in the individual’s body and get them to a healthy enough point where they can hopefully enter a substance abuse treatment program, such as Emerge Healing Center. 

Getting Treatment 

At Emerge Healing Center, we support the use of MAT and work with a local resources for detox. If interested in Emerge Healing Center, we treat Alcohol Addiction, Drug Addiction, Dual Diagnosis, Trauma, and PTSD. We do that through a wide range of services including our outpatient program, various therapies, and 12-step education. After detox, we would work with you to place you in the most appropriate treatment program, including MAT if appropriate. 

Next Steps

If you or a loved one are currently dealing with alcohol or drug addiction and would like to know more about treatment options in Atlanta, contact us today and find out just how fulfilling an addiction-free life can be.