When pondering the question of whether medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a good option for recovery, one must first consider that the recipe for recovery is specific to the individual. No plan of treatment or road to recovery is the same. So, it is important to consult a professional addiction specialist or reputable recovery center when asking, “Is MAT a good option for my recovery?” Because not doing so could diminish or delay the chances for a successful recovery.
What Exactly Is MAT?
Thankfully, there are many options for recovery in the 21st Century. There are community and group recovery programs, such as 12-Step, SMART, and Dharma programs. Also, there are treatment centers that focus on utilizing evidence-based psychotherapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). Then, there are also recovery options known as “harm reduction,” such as offering “safe use” spaces and needle exchanges. MAT is somewhat of a hybrid of harm reduction.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “Harm reduction is an evidence-based approach that is critical to engaging with people who use drugs and equipping them with life-saving tools and information to create positive change in their lives and potentially save their lives.” MAT is an option that offers those life-saving tools in the form of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications.
MAT is defined by SAMHSA as “The use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a ‘whole-patient’ approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Medications used are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are clinically driven and tailored to meet each patient’s needs.” Primarily, MAT is used for individuals who are struggling with opioid use disorder (OUD), but it is not recommended for everyone.
Who Is MAT a Good Option For?
While it has been shown that MAT can be efficient and effective in helping individuals reduce their use of more dangerous opioids, the question then becomes, “Who is MAT a good option for?” Now, while MAT can be effective for many types of people, the primary individual whom MAT may benefit is those for whom no form of abstinence works.
Yes, while there is no monopoly on recovery, for those struggling with oppressing addiction, the ultimate goal is abstaining from the substances that are oppressing them. So, the earlier that option becomes available, the better. For some people, the ability to stay abstinent from substances after detox is manageable. Yet, for others, this is not an option, and relapse happens early and chronically. This is when MAT is ideal.
Now, it should be noted that sometimes there is a stigma associated with MAT that labels it as some form of less rigorous or even “easier” type of treatment. This is both untrue and minimizes the individuals that work very hard using MAT to recover. As previously mentioned, there is technically no right or wrong way to recover. There is only the most effective way that works best for the individual.
What Are Some of the Benefits of MAT?
Many benefits can come from using MAT, not the least of which is reducing the chance of accidental overdoses and potential overdose death. Some of the other benefits are as follows:
- Helps individuals focus on other aspects of their treatment rather than suffering from the “obsession of use”
- Reduces the potential for illicit substance use and thus reduces the potential for risky or even criminal behaviors
- Helps individuals function in their day-to-day lives, allowing them to maintain their jobs and better manage their home lives
- Being closely monitored reduces the chances of other substances like fentanyl being used unknowingly
- For chronic relapsers, this offers one of the best opportunities to slowly transition into a recovery plan that does not involve harm-reduction medications
So, Is MAT a Good Option?
Ultimately, the answer as to whether MAT is a good option must be answered by a clinical professional. This discussion can begin with a primary physician, clinical addiction professional, or representative at a recovery center. However, it should happen as soon as possible.
The key is to create a recovery plan that is going to do the least harm while also offering the most progress. So, if someone is hesitant about using MAT but cannot stop using illicit substances, they must weigh the reality of their situation. While they may only see recovery as a program of abstinence, if they continue to relapse, then the latter is ultimately significantly more dangerous. The best thing to do is be honest, willing, diligent, and trust the professionals.
Our Mission of Comprehensive Care at Lantana Recovery
Here at Lantana Recovery, we understand the benefits that MAT can offer. We also understand the greater benefits that MAT offers when used in conjunction with other forms of treatment. That is why we focus wholly on comprehensive recovery plans.
Whether it be MAT or any other form of treatment we offer, our primary purpose is to help our clients recover. There is a responsibility statement that is said in 12-Step programs. It goes, “I am responsible when anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help. I want the hand of recovery always to be there, and for that, I am responsible.” At Lantana Recovery, our hand is out to anyone who wishes to take it.
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is generally used for treating opioid use disorders and helping individuals maintain sobriety. At Lantana Recovery, Suboxone, Vivitrol, and Sublocade are used during our MAT program. However, while it can be significantly effective, this treatment is highly individualized and not suitable for every client. But, it is always available to be discussed with one’s treatment team. If you feel like you or someone you love may be struggling with opioid use disorder or some other type of addiction or mental illness, please know that you are not alone. We can help. For more information on MAT and other treatment modalities that we offer, reach out to Lantana Recovery today at (866) 997-2870.