Can Medication-Assisted Treatment Aid Opioid Addiction Recovery?

Many treatment methods can greatly reduce the lifestyle consequences of opioid addiction when implemented properly. That includes evidence-based therapies, holistic treatment, and dual diagnosis treatment, to name a few. However, another effective method that can help reduce the risks of opioid addiction is medication-assisted treatment (MAT). 

At NorthStar Transitions, we utilize MAT by allowing clients to use Suboxone. The medication is exclusively managed by a medical team. Part of the goal is to taper and moderate the dosage and avoid long-term maintenance. Because of its effectiveness, more facilities are utilizing MAT in the hopes of helping clients achieve long-term recovery and reduce the risk of relapse post-treatment. Learning more about MAT and its potential benefits is an excellent way to learn if it's a viable option for you. 

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) describes the method of treatment that utilizes medication. According to them, it uses a combination of medication, counseling, and behavioral therapies to offer a whole-person approach to treatment for substance use disorder (SUD). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved many medications to treat both alcohol and opioid use disorders. These medications are supposed to help “relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause imbalances in the body.” 

Upon entering treatment, clients typically go through detox. When you use drugs or alcohol for long enough, the body begins to crave it more and can't function without it. Because of the body's need for that substance, abstaining from use can be a painful process. The brain and body must reaccustom to functioning without substances.  

During opioid detox, people experience several different withdrawal symptoms, including: 

  • Anxiety and/or agitation 
  • Body and muscle aches 
  • Insomnia 
  • Abdominal cramping 
  • Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting 

Depending on your situation, your symptoms may be worse, but medications can help manage them. In addition to helping you manage withdrawal symptoms, medications can also improve your opioid recovery outcome. So, what are these benefits? 

How Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Improve Opioid Addiction Recovery Outcomes?

SAMHSA tells us that MAT can help: 

  • Improve client survival 
  • Increase treatment retention 
  • Decrease illicit opioid use 
  • Increase the client's ability to gain and maintain employment

Some believe abstinence-only recovery models can be more harmful to those recovering from opioid addiction. Opioids cause severe changes in the brain. Medication helps normalize brain chemistry, block the effects of opioids, and reduces cravings. 

Withdrawal can even be fatal. In addition to these many benefits, using medications can be life-saving. However, like anything, there are potential risks or cons associated with MAT. 

Are There Cons Associated With This Treatment?

It's crucial to have all the facts before starting a type of addiction treatment. That holds true for MAT. Some of the cons associated with MAT include the following: 

  • It must be done with close medical supervision, so a person has to enter a facility 
  • There are potential side effects of the medications used during treatment 
  • Any medication can potentially be misused, and so individuals risk trading one dependency for another

Despite these cons, the benefits can outweigh the potential cons. Though MAT requires medical supervision, the extra support can reinforce the recovery process. Additionally, MAT includes many behavioral therapies. The evidence-based modalities utilized in combination with medication can help reduce the risk of trading one dependency for another. 

Once you've determined the potential pros and cons of utilizing MAT, you'll have to determine whether it's the right choice. But how do you know if it's right? North Transitions can help you determine if medication management is the right way to go. 

How Do You Know If Utilizing Medication Is Right for You?

Upon entering treatment with NorthStar, you'll go through assessments and meet with clinicians to create an individualized care plan tailored toward your needs. 

Medication has been used to treat addiction since the 90s, and with today's research, you can take comfort in knowing its effectiveness. If you have concerns about using medication in your recovery journey, speak to a therapist or clinician immediately. They'll help you better understand the benefits and long-term recovery success. 

Another factor to consider is insurance status. Unfortunately, people may hesitate to utilize medications within their treatment plans because of financial situations. However, thanks to Medicaid and assistance programs, MAT can be provided to many individuals across the country. Contact us to learn more about how we can potentially help despite any insurance concerns. 

Northstar Transitions understands the challenge of navigating treatment. Deciding to seek treatment is a courageous first step, but it's normal to have continued fears about the process. MAT is only one of the many treatments we offer to clients. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you achieve recovery today. 

Individuals struggling with substance use disorder (SUD), especially opioid addiction, experience many challenges upon seeking treatment. While these challenges can be scary, they are normal. Upon entering treatment, individuals must go through detox. When the body is detoxing from opioids or other substances, it can experience a number of uncomfortable and even painful withdrawal symptoms. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can help manage these symptoms. Additionally, MAT can help improve client survival, decrease illicit opioid use, and increase treatment retention. Despite potential cons, MAT can help you manage the discomfort of treatment and achieve long-term recovery. MAT is only one of many services we offer at NorthStar Transitions. To learn more about it and our additional services, call (303) 558-6400 today. 

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