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Medications are often an integral part of treatment for mental health and substance use disorders (SUDs). When medication is used to assist one’s treatment process, it is known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT). While MAT is not for everyone, it is sometimes a necessary treatment component that helps individuals to achieve and maintain sobriety. 

It’s important to know when and why medications are used during treatment to determine if medication will fit your individual treatment needs. 

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, MAT is the use of medications to complement traditional therapeutic treatments, such as counseling and behavioral therapies. This combination is effective for the treatment of opioid use disorder and other SUDs and can profoundly impact a person’s ability to sustain recovery.

MAT is a prominent component of any quality addiction treatment program, with a variety of benefits to help individuals overcome addiction.

When Is MAT Used?

MAT can be used for a variety of issues associated with SUD. It’s important to remember that everyone has unique journeys with substance use. In the same way, there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to MAT.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), medications can be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, and treat co-occurring conditions. Medications are often an important part of treatment, especially when combined with behavioral therapies.

Treating Co-occurring Disorders

Medications are often used in the treatment of dual diagnoses. Dual diagnosis, or co-occurring disorder, occurs when an individual has a mental health disorder and SUD simultaneously. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) states, “People with substance use disorders are at particular risk for developing one or more primary conditions or chronic diseases. The coexistence of both a mental illness and a substance use disorder, known as a co-occurring disorder, is also common among people in medication-assisted treatment.”

Medication may be necessary to treat a co-occurring disorder. If you are suffering from a dual diagnosis, it is imperative that you get the right treatment. A quality addiction treatment program will assess whether or not a dual diagnosis is present before crafting a solid treatment plan. 

Managing Withdrawal Symptoms

When chronic substance use is abruptly stopped, withdrawal symptoms can be severe. Addictions to certain substances can result in serious physical and mental withdrawal that can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. Further, withdrawing from substances such as opioids and alcohol can result in extreme withdrawal symptoms including hallucinations, seizures, and death. 

To make the detox process safer and more manageable, medications are often administered to those in detox programs. Inpatient detoxification takes place in a residential setting with medical and emotional support available 24/7. Following detox, individuals should seek out a quality addiction treatment program to continue their road to lasting recovery.

Relapse Prevention

Medications are also used to prevent relapse. Substance use can have many adverse effects on the brain, such as dulling neural pathways and dysregulating dopamine. Medication can help regulate brain functioning and decrease problematic cravings. 

It’s important to understand that addiction is often a relapsing disorder. If you do experience a relapse, make sure to approach it with love and empathy. Being honest, open, and compassionate with yourself will help you move on from the past and approach recovery in a more empowered state of mind.

Medication and Treatment Programs

If you are struggling with a SUD, you may wonder if medication will be right for you. Consider seeking a professional evaluation for further treatment suggestions. Enrolling in a treatment program will be the best choice you can make to find true sobriety and success throughout recovery.

Psychiatric Support

A quality addiction treatment program will provide psychiatric support. Psychiatrists will be able to determine if medication will be a valuable component of your treatment and assess if you have any co-occurring disorders.

Additionally, SAMHSA has a “no wrong door” policy. This policy states that any person seeking treatment will receive treatment, even if they are referred to a different facility. It explains that individuals who seek treatment for a mental disorder should be routinely screened for SUDs, and oppositely, individuals who seek treatment for SUDs should also be screened for mental disorders.

Once you get in the door of a treatment facility, you should feel confident that you will find the exact treatment you need. If that facility cannot support you, they will refer you to one that can. 

Behavioral Therapy

If you are struggling with SUD, comprehensive treatment is vital to your success. Substance abuse treatment programs will combine different methods of behavioral therapy with psychiatric care in order to make treatment as effective as possible.

Behavioral therapies help individuals understand how their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors all connect. Additionally, they encourage individuals to modify their attitudes and behaviors related to substance use while encouraging the development of healthy life skills. Medication is known to be the most effective when used in combination with therapeutic methods, such as behavioral therapies.

Medication-assisted treatment is not for everyone, but it could be a very strong component that will aid one’s recovery process. If you are struggling with substance use disorder, you may need certain medications to help you heal. Medications are often necessary to treat co-occurring disorders and ease dangerous withdrawal symptoms. A quality addiction treatment program will be able to assess whether or not MAT is right for you. At Lighthouse Recovery Texas, our in-house psychiatrist will assess each and every client that comes through our doors. We specialize in co-occurring disorders and insure that every patient is cared for on a unique, individualized basis. Psychiatric care combined with behavioral therapy will give you the complete and comprehensive care needed for a successful recovery and long-lasting sobriety. For a free psychiatric assessment and for more information, give us a call today at (214) 396-0259.