For people struggling with opioid addiction, withdrawal symptoms and cravings can make it difficult to break a physical dependence and enter recovery. Medication assisted treatment is a promising therapeutic approach that has helped many people overcome addiction to opioids and prevent relapse.
Although this treatment approach has shown to be safe and effective, some common misconceptions about medication assisted treatment have prevented it from being more widely used in therapeutic programs. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of medication assisted treatment and dispel some of the myths surrounding it.
What Is Medication Assisted Treatment?
Medication assisted treatment is a comprehensive approach that combines the use of medication with behavioral treatment and counseling. This form of treatment is most commonly implemented in cases of opioid addiction, although it is also used to treat alcohol use disorder and to help people quit smoking. Some drugs that are often used in medication assisted therapy are:
These medications reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings in people who are working to overcome opioid addiction. Minimizing these unpleasant symptoms makes it easier to stop thinking about using and focus instead on rebuilding a life in recovery.
Understanding the Benefits
Medication assisted treatment can offer powerful benefits for people who are struggling with opioid addiction. This form of treatment offers a smoother transition to recovery by minimizing the uncomfortable symptoms associated with withdrawal. Medication assisted treatment also helps reduce the risk of relapse by reducing cravings.
By combining medication with counseling and behavioral therapy, medication assisted treatment ensures that individuals leave an addiction treatment program with the coping skills they need to maintain long-term recovery.
Studies on the implementation of medication assisted treatment are limited so far, but a growing body of research consistently support its effectiveness. One recent study revealed that people who receive medication assisted treatment are more likely to complete a therapeutic program and that medication assisted treatment aids in relapse prevention.
Debunking Medication-Assisted Treatment Myths
Despite the proven benefits of medication assisted treatment, it hasn’t yet become a widespread approach in the world of addiction treatment. A few factors that have hindered medication assisted treatment’s implementation include:
- The idea that using a therapeutic medication is simply swapping one opioid drug for a new one
- The fear that medications like buprenorphine will be abused by the people using them in order to experience a high
- Lack of medication assisted treatment training and education among medical professionals
When you’re considering different treatment options, it’s important to remember that no two cases of addiction are exactly alike—what works for one individual may not be effective for someone else. It may seem counter-intuitive to use opioid medications as a form of treatment when you’re struggling to overcome an opioid addiction, but there’s no denying that this treatment approach works.
Although medication assisted treatment is a relatively new approach, early research has shown promising results. For some forms of addiction, a treatment program that includes both medication as well as behavioral therapy can help individuals get on the road to recovery and avoid relapse.