There has been an ongoing debate about the efficacy of using Medication Assisted Treatment or MAT in managing substance abuse among drug addicts, particularly those who have developed high-risk opioid dependence. Despite evidence-based practices that have shown MAT as an effective form of therapy for drug addiction and substance use disorders, there are still misconceptions and myths propagated by those who argue that MAT is simply substituting other addictive drugs for opiate addiction.
It’s high time that these misconceptions and myths are addressed to maximize the potentials of using MAT in successfully overcoming patients’ opioid dependence and maintaining their long-term recovery.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction
Opioid abuse involves persons who have developed an addiction to opiates that include prescription painkillers and pain relievers such as OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, as well as the illicit drug heroin and opioid synthetics like Fentanyl.
In helping combat opioid addiction, MAT is used along with comprehensive behavioral therapy and support in customizing medications to address a drug addict’s cravings, withdrawal, and relapse prevention. MAT includes the use of anti-craving medications such as buprenorphine (Suboxone) and methadone, or opioid effect blockers like naltrexone (Vivitrol).
Buprenorphine and methadone have consistently been proven effective in treating opioid dependence. Naltrexone has also become vital in preventing opioid overdose and death. Therefore, increased access to these medication-assisted treatments for opioid use disorders is critical in curbing the rising opioid abuse epidemic.
According to Michael Botticelli, former Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, MAT saves lives “while increasing the chances a person will remain in treatment, learn the skills, and build the networks necessary for long-term recovery.”
Busting the Myths
- It is not true that MAT introduces another drug addiction in treating opioid dependence. Evidence-based research shows that comprehensive drug addiction treatment plans using a combination of medication and behavioral therapy can successfully treat substance abuse disorders and help sustain long-term recovery.
- MAT does not increase the risk of drug overdose. In fact, it prevents overdoses in patients by achieving detoxification faster and helping in addiction recovery by improving their quality of life, functionality, and their ability to handle stress better. MAT has also been proven to reduce the risk of death as patients begin their recovery.
- The claim that there’s no proof to MAT’s greater effectivity over abstinence is false. In fact, according to the National Council for Behavioral Health, MAT is recommended as the first line of treatment for opioid addiction by The National Institute of Drug Abuse, Americal Medical Association, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and other agencies that promote evidence-based studies on MAT as a successful solution for opioid dependence.
How Drug Addiction Treatment Facilities Can Maximize MAT
Behavioral and drug addiction treatment clinics can maximize the use of MAT with reliable clinical workflow tools such as the Zoobook EHR. This powerful EHR system provides digital versions of patients’ treatment plans that can efficiently plot out a patient’s therapy and medication schedules, set reminders for doctors and therapists, report patient updates in real-time, and monitor patient recovery remotely through digital gadgets and telemedicine.
For a FREE demo on how the Zoobook EHR can best help your agency integrate MAT in your clinical processes, call 1-800-995-6997 or visit www.zoobooksystems.com for more information.