Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a type of addiction and mental health treatment that combines the use of prescription medications and therapy. The drugs used in MAT help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Some people have concerns over whether medication-assisted treatment is safe and effective. If you are thinking about trying medication-assisted treatment in Washington, keep reading to learn how medications in MAT can support your recovery.
At Bayview Recovery, we understand that you may have questions about whether medication-assisted treatment is safe or if it will replace one addiction with another. We are here to answer your questions and help you get started on the road to recovery with evidence-based, safe MAT medications. Call us today at 855.478.3650 to learn more about how we use medications in MAT to ease withdrawal discomfort and help you stay focused on your goals for a sober lifestyle.
The Role of Medications in MAT
Addiction is a disease that causes changes in the brain, especially when the problem goes on long-term. It changes how your brain functions, resulting in cravings for drugs or alcohol, even after years of abstinence from them. These cravings are triggered by certain stimuli, such as being around others who use drugs or alcohol. Sometimes, you can even be triggered by just seeing drug paraphernalia or smelling alcohol. Addiction is considered a progressive condition, so it will only worsen with time.
So, how can medications in MAT help you overcome addiction? These medications address the effects of addiction on the brain but do so in different ways.
- Some medications help to rebalance levels of certain brain chemicals thrown off by addiction. Drugs and alcohol can affect norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine levels. These are feel-good hormones responsible for helping you feel positive and energetic. Once you are addicted to drugs and alcohol, your brain may struggle to produce adequate levels of these chemicals. If you try to remove these substances from your life, the deficiency of feel-good hormones will leave you feeling depressed, anxious, and fatigued. Certain medications, like SSRIs and SNRIs, can help increase these brain chemicals’ levels to help you feel more emotionally balanced.
- Other medications in MAT, like methadone and buprenorphine, focus on reducing cravings for drugs or alcohol. They may produce the same euphoric effects, although milder. This leaves your brain feeling like it is still getting some of the drugs, so it does not respond with intense cravings.
- Some MAT medications, such as naltrexone, completely block the effects of other drugs, particularly opioids and alcohol, so that you no longer experience the mood-boosting effects. This reduces the drive to use, which can lead to reduced cravings.
Although medications can play a significant role in helping you end addiction, they should be combined with therapy for the most effective treatment.
Are Medication-Assisted Treatment Drugs Safe?
Now that you understand how medications can aid your recovery, it is also important to know if these medication-assisted treatment drugs are safe to use. Here are some things to consider when wondering how safe MAT medications are:
- All medications come with side effects, whether mild or severe.
- When used in a professional setting, medication-assisted treatment is safe. You are overseen by addiction treatment professionals who monitor your symptoms and make modifications If you experience side effects.
- Medications used in MAT are FDA-approved and have been proven to be safe when used in a clinical setting.
- MAT medications help you stop using other drugs or alcohol that are detrimental to your health. Addiction is the real danger.
It is also important to remember that each person responds differently to medications, so your experience may differ from that of someone else in recovery.
Bayview Recovery: Safe Medication-Assisted Treatment for Your Recovery
It is understandable that you may be concerned about the safety of MAT medications. Bayview Recovery only uses science-backed medications in our medication-assisted treatment programs to ensure your safety while in our care. Call us today at 855.478.3650 or contact us online with any questions or concerns you have about MAT.
Dave Cundiff, MD, MPH is an experienced leader in the field of Substance Use Disorder treatment. He works with patients suffering from Substance Use Disorder to evaluate their medication needs and prescribe treatments accordingly. In addition, he regularly participates in all-staff debriefing sessions involving peers, nurses, and other prescribers. He also reviews and advises on policies, procedures, and techniques for treating substance use disorder.