What to Expect in Medication Assisted Treatment

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Before going into treatment, some people have medication-assisted treatment expectations that can make them uneasy. Potential worries often revolve around the interchange of one drug for another—treating a substance use disorder by introducing another substance seems counterintuitive. However, medication-assisted treatment is a robust complementary approach that can provide tangible benefits to those struggling with addiction and subsequent withdrawal.

At Clear Steps Recovery, we’ve seen firsthand the strengths of using medication-assisted treatment. MAT, in addition to programs like behavioral therapy, family therapy, and counseling, allows patients to minimize the pain of withdrawal on their way to total recovery. Reach out today by calling at 603.769.8981 to learn about our Londonderry, New Hampshire, medication-assisted treatment program.

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is a valuable tool for treating substance use disorders. As the name would imply, MAT involves the use of medication to aid in treatment, specifically to reduce the impact of withdrawal symptoms. Medication-assisted treatment is restricted chiefly to cases of opioid and alcohol use disorders because of how those particular substances affect the brain.

Withdrawal comes as a result of a neurochemical imbalance—the brain becomes accustomed to having certain drugs present and halts its own production in response. When these drugs fail to appear, the brain has difficulty readjusting, and withdrawal is what follows.

This is what most MAT medications seek to fix. By binding to the same receptors as these substances, the medication can occupy the receptor and nullify the ensuing withdrawal symptoms. It’s essential that these drugs put the patient at zero risk of becoming addicted or do not themselves cause adverse reactions even as they seek to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. 

What to Expect in Medication-Assisted Treatment

If you and your healthcare provider determine MAT is right for you, there are some standards you can come to expect:

Reduced Cravings and Withdrawal Symptoms

MAT medications can help reduce the intensity of cravings and withdrawal symptoms. This can make managing addiction easier, allowing for more focus on recovery.

Improved Treatment Retention

MAT has been shown to improve retention in treatment, as patients are less likely to drop out due to discomfort with their withdrawal symptoms or inability to manage cravings.

Lower Risk of Relapse

Because of the previous two benefits, the use of MAT is associated with a lower risk of relapse. Whereas dropping out is one step backward, relapse can be compared to a full reverse sprint.

Improved Physical and Mental Health

MAT can help improve overall mental and physical health, as individuals are able to enter a less discomforting mindset without the pain of withdrawal.

Better Pregnancy Outcomes

MAT is the standard of care for pregnant women with an opioid addiction. Opioid use can be immensely harmful to pregnancy, so MAT aids in improving overall health and reducing the risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome.

MAT is beneficial in managing the worst withdrawal symptoms and disincentivizing further substance abuse, but it doesn’t accomplish much else. It alone will not cure a substance use disorder—for that, a comprehensive treatment plan is necessary. Without getting to the center of the problem, such as addressing motivations for abusing drugs, there’s no guarantee that treatment will meet many people’s medication-assisted treatment expectations.

Reach Out to Clear Steps Recovery for MAT in New Hampshire

At Clear Steps Recovery, we understand how painful withdrawal can be. Many people who have dropped out of rehab cite withdrawal pain as a major contributor. MAT can help combat the discomfort of quitting drug use, leading to more secure treatment. If you have questions about medication-assisted treatment expectations, contact our team of specialists today at 603.769.8981 or reach out online.

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