The Pros and Cons of Medication Assisted Treatment
Medication-assisted treatment or MAT treatment is a gradual approach to recovery from addiction that gives lower and lower doses of an FDA-approved medication over time instead of having to quit cold turkey and dealing with the horrible pain of withdrawal.
The client is given daily doses of medication prescribed by a doctor that lessens the intensity of cravings and curves withdrawal symptoms.
While this is commonly the best option for many, it’s not always the best fit for some individuals. So what are the pros and cons of medication assisted treatment?
Pros of Medication Assisted Treatment
In the philosophy of harm reduction, MAT treatment facilitates the process of safe detoxification so that a patient can build a solid foundation in their recovery without being distracted by the thwarts of withdrawal. With MAT treatment, patients with substance abuse issues are more likely to complete a full treatment program and are many times fully off of the medication by the time they complete treatment.
If someone is forced to quit cold turkey, the pain and cravings that they experience from the withdrawal will give them a higher chance of relapsing. Many professional studies and clinical trials have shown that it is crucial to use these medications to slowly wean someone who is addicted to opiates off of their substances in a safe way.
When combined with a solid 12 step program, an inpatient treatment program, and therapy MAT treatment is more likely to result in long-term sobriety than someone who is forced to quit cold turkey.
Another pro of medication assisted treatment is that patients with substance use disorders are more likely to survive the detoxification period while receiving MAT treatment. Sometimes during withdrawal, an addict may decide to go relapse, but their tolerance will be much lower than the last time they used and it may cause them to overdose because they tried to use the same amount that they think will get them as high as the last time they used. MAT treatment prevents patients from using at such a vulnerable time. It also indirectly lowers the chance that a patient can contract HIV or Hepatitis C by reducing the chance for a relapse.
Women who are pregnant are more likely to give birth to a healthy baby when going through MAT treatment. It allows the mother to slowly wean herself off of the opiates so that by the time the baby is fully developed it is not being affected by the mother’s use.
Studies have shown that patients who go through MAT treatment are more likely to gain and retain full-time employment and have better mental health due to a snowball effect of safely detoxing from addiction, their recovery program, and other positive support figures in their life.
Cons of Medication Assisted Treatment
MAT treatment can come with some cons or disadvantages that can be caused by misuse of their prescription. Some patients can get addicted to the medication that is supposed to help them recover from their main addiction. They may then abuse the medication as a way to get high while they don’t have access to opiates.
Some patients have overdosed on the medication given to them through MAT treatment which is why they should be under close supervision during their detox period and the medication should be portioned out to them so that they can’t take more than prescribed. To note, on a rare chance some medications and common foods may cause false positive on a drug test for patients.
Another con of medication assisted treatment is that some patients may try to sell medication in order to get money to purchase opiates. They also might try to mix their medication with other illicit drugs causing adverse effects.