Since 1949, the 12-step program developed by Alcoholics Anonymous has been the dominant way we think about facing and fighting addiction. Many people have successfully used this approach, which uses both community and willpower to recovery from addiction. However, countless others have tried it and relapsed. Given that opioid addiction afflicts so many Americans, it’s time to face addiction with an equally powerful—and proven—method: medication-assisted treatment (or MAT).
MAT practices opioid recovery by using medication (like Suboxone) to help people dependent on opioids gradually ease themselves recover. While these treatments have been available for many years, some who rely on these medications to help fight opioid addiction face stigma, since they don’t practice the traditional 12-Step approach.
That stigma is unfounded, and it can cause harm. Here are four benefits of MAT for treating opioid addiction:
First, there’s no reason why an MAT approach to fighting addiction can’t work alongside a 12-step program. Rehab centers across the US encourage patients to join 12-step programs, and many of their patients also rely on MAT to help with their addiction. Second, MAT programs have been proven to reduce the all-cause mortality rate by 50% or more among addiction patients. This makes MAT programs an important tool to fight opioid addiction.
When people dependent on opioids try to quit, their withdrawal often becomes painfully intense. This can make escaping addiction nearly impossible. MAT drugs like buprenorphine work by stopping the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, making it easier for patients to live a normal life while they wean themselves off opioid addiction. Without withdrawal’s pains, someone recovering from opioids receives a better defense against opioid relapse.
MAT programs are not one-size-fits-all. Instead, patients can receive the medications at anopioid treatment clinic, or at an authorized location which allows for outpatient MAT programs. This added flexibility makes a normal life much easier, even for patients receiving MAT to eliminate opioid addiction.
Older MAT drugs like methadone required regular visits to a clinic, but newer MATs like buprenorphine can be taken at a patient’s home. Patients can even receive them just once or twice a day. Another treatment, Vivitrol, can help later in recovery to guard the body against relapse. Because not all MAT programs work for everyone, it is helpful to have multiple options to find what’s best.
You can learn more about MATs, and about how they’re an evidence-supported practice for beginning and sustaining opioid recovery. And if you need opioid recovery help, visit Buprenorphine Doctors for its directories of opioid treatment clinics and opioid doctors.