Addiction Recovery Isn’t Always A Straight Path: How Medication-Assisted Treatment Can Help

young man in recovery

For years, medical professionals have been helping patients overcome addiction with Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) that blocks areas of the brain that control addiction. For example, the drug naloxone can block the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptor in the brain, which reduces the desire to drink. And in the same way, methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone can be used to combat opioid addiction.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is used in combination with counseling and behavioral therapy. Research shows that a combination of medication and therapy can be a successful treatment for some people struggling with addiction. MAT can help sustain recovery. Let's take a look at MAT and how it can help people with addiction.

The medication works on brain chemistry to block the positive effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and body functions work normally without the adverse effects of the abused drug. Medications used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and MAT programs are created to meet each patient’s needs. One important thing to know is, MAT used with anxiety medications can be fatal. Types of anxiety medications are Benzodiazepine, such as Xanax or Valium.

MAT has proven to be clinically effective and to significantly reduce the need for hospitalized detoxification. MAT is a complete program of medication and behavioral therapy. MAT also includes support services like case management that address all the needs of clients. 

The ultimate goal of MAT is full recovery. This treatment approach has been shown to:

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase the ability to stay in treatment
  • Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increase clients’ ability to gain and maintain employment
  • Improve healthy births for pregnant women who have substance use disorders
  • Research shows medication and therapy can reduce the risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C 
  • Reduce the potential for relapse.

Many people think that MAT substitutes one drug for another. This is not true. MAT makes withdrawal easier and stops cravings. MAT programs provide a safe and controlled level of medication. Research shows that with the proper dose, medications used in MAT have no adverse effects on a person’s intelligence, physical health or ability to get a job.

The path to change is not one you have to travel alone. New Vista professionals provide hope to individuals and families. We use evidence-based treatment to help clients achieve their fullest potential and stay in recovery. New Vista is the Community Mental Health Center and we are here to help. If you or a loved one needs help with substance use or mental health services, please call our 24-Hour Helpline at 1.800.928.8000.