Addiction is a complex and challenging disorder that can profoundly impact a person’s life. Recovery from addiction requires ongoing support and care. That’s where medication-assisted therapy (MAT) comes in. We will explore the importance of medication-assisted therapy in preventing relapse and promoting recovery.
Having a relapse isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it can be an important part of the journey to recovery. Let’s talk about what relapse means and why it happens.
First, let’s clarify what we mean when we say ‘relapse’. A relapse is defined as a return to substance use after a period of abstinence (or sobriety). Stress, social pressure, and cravings can all be triggers or reasons for relapse.
It’s also common for people in recovery to feel isolated from others as they try to stay sober. Feeling disconnected from loved ones or friends can lead to feelings of loneliness that can make someone vulnerable to temptation and cravings if they aren’t careful.
Relapse doesn’t have to be the end of a recovery journey! There are many treatment options that can prevent relapse and help achieve long-term sobriety.
Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is an evidence-based approach combining medication with counseling and behavioral therapy to treat addiction. MAT helps manage cravings, reduces withdrawal symptoms, and promotes abstinence. The medications used in MAT are FDA-approved and are safe and effective in treating addiction.
Several types of medications are used in medication-assisted therapy, including opioid agonists, which bind to the same receptors in the brain as opioids but do not produce the same high. Examples of opioid agonists used in MAT include methadone and buprenorphine. There are also opioid antagonists, which block the effects of opioids and can be used to prevent relapse. Naltrexone, on the other hand, is an example of an opioid antagonist used in medication-assisted therapy.
Medication-assisted therapy is designed to be part of a comprehensive addiction treatment plan. It is not a stand-alone treatment but a tool that can be combined with other evidence-based treatments to support recovery.
Evidence-Based Benefits of Medication-Assisted Therapy
Studies have shown that medication-assisted therapy is an effective tool in preventing relapse and supporting long-term recovery. A study of heroin-overdose deaths in Baltimore between 1995 and 2009 found an association between the increasing availability of methadone and buprenorphine and an approximately 50% decrease in opioid use. The study also revealed a 37% decrease in criminal activity compared to those who did not receive MAT.
Medication-assisted therapy has also been shown to improve treatment outcomes, including retention in treatment and completion of treatment goals. Medications used in MAT can reduce the intensity of cravings, making it easier for patients to resist the urge to use substances. MAT can also help reduce withdrawal symptoms, a significant barrier to recovery. Finally, MAT can promote abstinence by reducing the reinforcing effects of substances and increasing the likelihood of successful recovery.
Barriers to Medication-Assisted Therapy
Despite the evidence supporting the use of medication-assisted therapy in addiction treatment, there are still several barriers to its use. Common misconceptions about MAT can lead to stigma and resistance to its use. Some people may feel that using medication to treat addiction is simply substituting one addiction for another or that it is a “quick fix” that does not address the root causes of addiction.
Stigma is another barrier to medication-assisted therapy. There is still a significant amount of stigma associated with addiction, which can extend to the use of medication in treatment. Some people may view medication as a crutch or believe that it is a sign of weakness to need medication to recover from addiction.
Lack of access to medication-assisted therapy can be a significant barrier to its use. Not all addiction treatment programs offer MAT. Even when it is available, there may be limitations on who can receive it. This can be due to various factors, including cost, insurance coverage, and availability of trained providers. And Confidant Health is changing that by becoming the easiest way to offer MAT. The Confidant Health app provides discreet and confidential access to experts who can help you start or continue your MAT program.
Overcoming Barriers to Medication-Assisted Therapy for Successful Addiction Treatment and Relapse Prevention
In conclusion, it is clear that medication-assisted therapy is the best choice for most people struggling with addiction. It helps them successfully overcome barriers to treatment and relapse prevention.
The choice between MAT and other forms of treatment is ultimately a personal one. The final decision should be made in consultation with a medical professional who can guide you through the process.
If you are struggling with addiction, it’s important to remember that there are many ways to get help. You don’t have to do it alone! There are many resources available to support you in your journey toward recovery.
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