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Myths of Medication Assisted Treatment Programs

Thursday, April 5, 2018 | By Tim Powers

MAT programs are effective in the fight against opioid addiction. As part of a comprehensive treatment program, medication-assisted therapy helps addicts get and stay sober. Despite its advantages, the are many myths that persist regarding MAT. This article will explore the myths of medication assisted treatment. Additionally, this article will present solid facts supporting the benefits of medication assisted treatment.

The Most Common Myths of Medication Assisted Treatment

Myth #1: Medication Assisted Therapy is Trading One Addiction for Another

One of the most common myths of MAT is that is trades one addiction for another. While medications such as methadone and Suboxone have addiction risks, they are minimal. Medication-assisted therapy programs are run by experienced treatment professionals and are tightly regulated. MAT programs are effective when combined with a comprehensive individualized drug treatment plan. Additionally, these programs reduce the risk of relapse and promote long-term recovery.

Myth #2: MAT Programs are Only For the Short-Term

A second myth of medication-assisted treatment programs is they are short-term programs. MAT programs are prominent in the medical detoxification process and help reduce withdrawal symptoms. Although effective in early recovery, medication assisted therapy also benefits addicts as they transition out of treatment. When combined with outpatient therapy and aid from community resources, medications help in sustaining recovery.

Myth #3: A Patient’s Addiction is Not Severe Enough for MAT

Another one of the most prevalent myths of medication assisted therapy is that a person’s addiction is not severe enough to warrant intervention. To the contrary, MAT programs offer a wide range of medications tailored to meet each individual’s needs. The following are the types of medications used in treatment programs:

  • agonists–medications that bind with the brain’s receptors and produce opioid-like effects.
  • partial agonists-medications that bind with given receptors and only produce limited opioid-like effects.
  • antagonists-medications that block receptors and prohibit opioid-like effects.

These medications are effective at anytime during and after treatment. Additionally, medication therapy protocols can be tapered down or increased depending on individual needs.

Myth #4: MAT Programs Increase Overdose Risk

Another obstacle people experience when considering MAT programs is the view this therapy increases overdose risk. In reality, medication assisted therapy reduces the risk of opioid overdoses. Even one use of opioid drugs during recovery can result in overdose and death. Medications such as Vivitrol help addicts tolerate withdrawal symptoms. As a result, newly recovering addicts can wean off of dangerous opioid drugs and become physically and psychologically stable.

Myth #5: Medication Therapy Hinders Recovery

A concern people have with medication therapy is the fear it will hamper their recovery. In reality, MAT programs enhance recovery. MAT programs improve quality of life. Additionally, these programs improve functioning and decrease likelihood of relapse.

Myth #6: MAT Programs Aren’t Any Better Than Abstinence-Based Programs

Another myth of MAT program is the belief they are not as effective as abstinence-based programs. According to information by SAMHSA, medication programs contain solid research. Additionally, they are backed by organizations such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the American Medical Association. Many substance abuse organization view MAT programs as a solid line of defense against opioid abuse.

Myth #7:Most Insurance Plans Don’t Cover Medication Therapy Programs

People may pass on MAT programs because of insurance concerns. In 31 states, state Medicaid programs cover MAT. In 60 percent of states, extended-release naltrexone is listed on the Medicaid preferred drug list. Additionally, more insurance companies are covering these medications as opioid crisis continues.

Myth #8: Courts Are In a Good Position to Determine the Best Course of Drug Treatment

One of the most prevalent myths of medication assisted therapy programs is that the court system can determine the course of drug treatment. The legal system should avoid making medical decisions with respect to medication assisted treatment programs. Also, the courts should not deny people access to MAT programs. That decision can have serious consequences on an addict’s health and life. The decision to enter medication therapy is best made between the addict and medical personnel.

Dispelling the Myths of Medication Assisted Treatment Programs

For those looking to address opioid addiction, medication assisted therapy is an attractive therapy to consider. While MAT programs are effective, the myths surrounding medication therapy are often difficult to overcome. The best way to dispel the myths of medication assisted treatment programs is to educate yourself about this form of therapy. Additionally, it is important to understand the process how treatment professionals determine if MAT programs are right for you.

First and foremost, experienced treatment personnel perform a comprehensive evaluation once you enter treatment. This evaluation has three main goals. First, they will proper diagnose your substance abuse disorder. Second, they will evaluate the severity of your addiction. Third, they assess for any co-occurring mental disorders that may complicate the recovery process.

After the evaluation, staff determines if you are a good candidate for a medication assisted therapy program. You are a good candidate for a MAT program if you have a confirmed diagnosis of opioid and/or alcohol addiction. Secondly, you are a good candidate if you agree to fully comply with prescribing orders and properly taking medications. Additionally, you are a good candidate if you don’t have underlying medical issues that medication therapy can exacerbate.

However, there are situations were MAT programs cause more harm than good. MAT programs are not good for you if you have a history of medication misuse. These programs will also hinder your recovery if you are addicted to a substance that can’t be treated with a medication that isn’t approved by the FDA. Thirdly, these programs won’t help if you have significant physical and health limitations. Lastly, MAT programs won’t help you if you aren’t committed to getting clean and sober.

The most important thing to remember is that MAT programs is not a cure for addiction. Effective addiction treatment involves a multi-faceted approach that includes the use of evidence-based therapy, 12-step support and aftercare programs. When used as a supplement to these foundational interventions, medication therapy provides many benefits. These include positive self-image as well as the building of healthy life and coping skills.

Do You Have Questions About MAT Programs?

The myths of medication assisted treatment programs are hard to ignore. When considering drug treatment, you may be steered away from this effective treatment. The best way to diminish the myths of medication assisted treatment programs is to obtain the best information that is available to you. With this knowledge, you are able to make the best informed choices regarding your drug treatment. The more tools at your disposal, you increase the odds of long-term sobriety.

If you have questions on the benefits of MAT programs, help is a phone call away. The professionals at Medically Assisted Treatment have many years of cumulative experience at your service. We understand the benefits and potential pitfalls of medication therapy. Not only do we provide the resources and support, we can help you find the MAT program that best suits your needs. Call Medication Assisted Treatment today.

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