Medical-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Being drunk or high can be compared to a flood: taking drugs or drinking alcohol causes a rush of chemicals in the rivers of the brain. The excess chemicals artificially reproduce and enhance feelings like happiness, calmness, energy and positivity, moods that are typically controlled by natural substances produced by your body.

As the flood of being high subsides, however, drought also sets in: the brain’s pathways become dried out, and your body can’t produce enough of its own chemicals to balance what’s left behind. The resulting lack of natural mood-regulating chemicals leads to withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, paranoia and negativity. 

With prolonged substance abuse, particularly drug abuse, your brain will become increasingly reliant on artificial substances to help keep you feeling normal. This dependence is a crucial component of addiction — drug users continue taking their drug of choice because, without it, their days become more and more difficult to get through on their own. When the time comes to seek treatment, you will need to get through a detox period where your brain and body adjust to life without drugs. 

For certain drugs, like opioids, the detox period can be dangerous without medical supervision. Many patients experience physical and mental symptoms during detox like nausea, fever, body aches, anxiety and insomnia. Some treatment centers are now implementing a treatment plan for severe withdrawal symptoms that uses medications to help wean a patient off of drugs like heroin, morphine, fentanyl and other prescription painkillers.

What is MAT?

Medication-assisted treatment, often shortened to MAT, involves the use of FDA-approved medications including naltrexone and buprenorphine to treat physical symptoms of withdrawal, alongside the use of mental health approaches like psychotherapy and counseling. It is most commonly used for patients who are struggling with opioid addiction, though there are also medications that can help with addiction to alcohol or tobacco. These medications are used at the outset of treatment to help patients adjust to life without drugs. Patients are supervised by medical professionals who carefully control the doses of MAT drugs until the patient no longer needs them to feel comfortable in daily life.

Medication alone cannot address all aspects of addiction recovery; it is only a short-term solution for physical symptoms. But at the same time, the physical symptoms associated with overcoming addiction can be dangerous, painful and uncomfortable, and are often a distraction from the longer-term goal of recovery. Combining the two in a way that is both safe and effective can make the overall recovery process a more positive experience and lay a stronger foundation for lifelong sobriety.

Many people worry that MAT only serves to mask the symptoms of withdrawal and replace one drug with another. And it is true that the treatment comes with some risks; the medications used in MAT do have the potential to be purchased and used illegally, and they can produce a high when taken in large quantities. But studies have shown that individuals who abuse MAT drugs are only a small percentage, and under the medical supervision of recovery treatment professionals, there is a much higher potential for these drugs to help than to harm. 

Who is MAT For?

MAT allows treatment centers to meet patients where they are, instead of demanding that everyone enter recovery treatment at the same stage. It is not always possible for individuals to enter treatment fully ready or able to quit using drugs right away. Many patients decide to seek treatment while they are still within the grip of active addiction. When faced with an abstinence-only approach, recovery can feel too stressful or overwhelming, and the patient may feel unable to continue with treatment. As a treatment center, it is our responsibility to help each individual get past the obstacles of early recovery in a way that works for them.

We want to ensure that our patients are set up for long-term success, and for some, MAT is the best way to start recovery on a positive and encouraging note. While MAT is not right for everyone and you will need to work with a medical addiction professional to learn more, the ideal candidate for MAT generally. 

  • Is actively struggling with addiction to an opioid like heroin, morphine or prescription painkillers
  • Has been unable to find success with abstinence-based approaches
  • Experiences severe withdrawal symptoms between highs

MAT at Recovery Ways

Deciding to seek treatment for your addiction can be daunting. If you are struggling with addiction, you likely feel as though life without drugs can only bring sadness, pain or difficulty. You might already know what withdrawal feels like, and you might be afraid that getting treatment will force you to go through those symptoms all over again. At Recovery Ways, we want you to feel supported and safe as you start to turn your life in the right direction. We offer evidence-based treatments like MAT because we have seen how much certain patients can benefit in the long run from feeling comfortable in the beginning stages of their treatment. 

Opioid abuse remains a prevalent problem in the United States, and our corner of Utah is, unfortunately, no exception. With a patient base from both in and out of state that is increasingly struggling with addiction to these harmful drugs, implementing MAT has been an essential piece of our treatment plan. We will work with you upon admission to determine whether you are a good candidate for MAT, and then you will work closely with our team of licensed providers to create a customized plan for MAT that makes sense for you.

Contact Recovery Ways

Recovery Ways provides addiction treatment for adult patients at our facilities in the Salt Lake City, Utah area. Our drug and alcohol addiction programs are “Gold Seal” accredited through The Joint Commission. We are licensed by the State of Utah for drug addiction, drug treatment, alcohol rehabilitation and drug rehab at multiple levels of care, including residential rehab, intensive outpatient therapy and aftercare programs. To learn more about what we offer and to find out of any of our programs, including MAT, are right for you, please contact us today. Call our helpful staff at 1-888-986-7848.

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