What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

The effects of withdrawal for some substances can be physically and psychologically traumatic. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration explains that physicians may prescribe certain medications in conjunction with other treatments to lessen the distress some people may feel. This is known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Federal law requires people who are undergoing MAT to also receive counseling. Research shows that the medications can have positive effects such as:

  • Normalizing brain chemistry and body functions
  • Relieving physiological and psychological cravings
  • Blocking the euphoric sensations of opioids and alcohol

The medications used to treat opioid addiction are methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, and Suboxone. These have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and can be taken safely for as long as necessary.

However, the goal of MAT is not to substitute one substance for another. Physicians gradually reduce the strength of the prescription over time, and the ideal outcome of this tapering-off process is to help the patient gain freedom from the addiction without the negative effects of quitting suddenly.

Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Work?

Medication-assisted treatment is an evidence-based practice. That means it has proven to be successful in improving the rates of patient survival and increasing the number of patients who stay in treatment. People with substance use disorders who participate in MAT also have lower rates of illegal opiate use and other criminal offenses. By reducing the chances that a person will relapse, MAT also reduces the risk of contracting diseases such as HIV or hepatitis C.

When a woman with a substance use disorder is pregnant, withdrawal symptoms can pose a significant risk to the unborn child. In fact, withdrawal often leads to miscarriage or premature birth because the process causes the uterus to contract. Methadone reduces those risks and improves birth outcomes without the risk of birth defects.

Is Medication-Assisted Treatment Available in Kitsap County?

There are many health care providers in this area who will participate with chemical dependency professionals in treating people with substance use disorders. If you would like to learn more about MAT, our team at West Sound Treatment Center can provide you with the information you need. To contact us, call (360) 876-9430 or fill out this form.

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