5 Myths About Medication-Assisted Treatment

5 Myths About Medication-Assisted Treatment

Many people have misconceptions about medication-assisted treatment (MAT). This treatment combines medications with therapy to treat severe addictions such as opioid abuse and chronic alcoholism. Bringing some common myths about MAT to light helps people be more informed about and comfortable with the treatment.

Myth #1. Medication-Assisted Treatment Replaces One Addiction for Another

Even though MAT uses FDA-approved medications, some people think that these medications may also become addictive. However, the medications used for MAT have a low risk of dependency. As an additional safety measure, they are only dispensed by licensed health professionals. 

Some partial opioid medications are used in MAT to transition from harmful substances to sobriety. By gradually detoxing highly potent opioid drugs from the body, these temporary medications ease withdrawal symptoms while preventing cravings. MAT drugs are not intended for long-term use but as a short-term way to help people achieve abstinence without the painful, even harmful effects of withdrawal.

Myth #2. It Is Just a Temporary Fix

Although the use of medications serves as a gradual transition, MAT is not a temporary fix. It is part of a gradual detox approach that prepares people to benefit most from further treatment. This includes a combination of interventions such as psychotherapy and holistic methods. 

MAT is a legitimate and common detox method that aids long-term treatment. Without it, the risk of relapse can be much higher. People may feel more intense effects when coming off potent substances, leading to cycles of intense cravings. With MAT, recovering individuals can better manage their cravings while receiving necessary treatment. 

Myth #3. It Does Not Prioritize Sobriety

Family and friends supporting their loved ones in treatment may think MAT is not a pathway that prioritizes sobriety. This is a misunderstanding of how MAT works. Like others, the goal of this treatment method is to guide a person toward sustainable sobriety. MAT is a high level of care in pursuit of this goal.

People suffering from severe addiction need significant help in achieving sobriety. Family and friends must understand that detox requires more than just pulling the plug. Severe and even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms can accompany detox. MAT is geared toward sobriety in a way that protects the overall well-being of recovering individuals.

Myth #4. It Is One Narrow Path

Some people may have the misconception that only one kind of MAT is available. In reality, there is a wide variety of medications available for MAT specialists to implement. Many of these medications, such as Vivitrol and Naltrexone, are opiate-free. 

People will taper off whatever form of MAT they use when they are emotionally and mentally ready to put in more work. This includes coping with stress and identifying triggers. These psychotherapeutic methods are gradually introduced alongside MAT, which is just one recovery tool among many.

Myth #5. It Is Only for Residential Treatment

MAT may be implemented at different frequencies depending on what medications are used. For example, if people with severe addiction are using methadone as their MAT route, they need to be monitored closely in a clinical environment. However, many types of MAT use slow-release medications that do not require daily clinical observations. 

This treatment method can be administered in an outpatient format. Some people get treated on a weekly or even monthly basis. The frequency is determined by several factors, including the severity of addiction, the types of substances involved, a person’s comfort level with the dose, and co-occurring mental health concerns. 

Overcoming the Stigma Associated With Medication-Assisted Treatment

Stigma is often rooted in misconceptions. Many MAT-related myths reveal the wider societal stigma around addiction recovery. Fundamentally, people must realize that addiction is a chronic but treatable brain disease. MAT offers a way to gradually taper off substances, which is often the safest and most effective way to do so. It makes a lot of sense from a brain health perspective. 

Even if someone needs to stay on MAT for a long time, this does not mean the treatment method is ineffective. Like other chronic diseases such as diabetes, many people need medications for long-term maintenance. Nobody considers using medications for diabetes shameful, though it is similar in application to MAT for addiction treatment. It is the stigma that is at work behind these MAT and addiction myths.

Preventing Overdose Risks Through Medication-Assisted Treatment

The most valid justification for MAT is that it prevents the risk of overdose. Without MAT, people may try to detox highly potent substances from their bodies by themselves. Cravings may eventually drive them to relapse or, worse, overdose. They may also experience fatal withdrawal symptoms. In this sense, MAT is a top harm-reduction method.

When MAT is combined with counseling and psychotherapy, recovering individuals will benefit more and improve their day-to-day functioning. MAT can also be customized, and the treatment plan may be adjusted over time. It is a highly flexible method for long-term recovery.

People considering MAT must understand that this method is based on brain science. More knowledge can help them combat MAT-related myths and motivate them to continue with lifestyle modifications. Laguna Shores Recovery helps you understand the science behind recovery. We embrace science-based treatment methods as part of a holistic approach. Here, you will find that our experienced mental health professionals and compassionate staff know the value of building a strong recovery community. We understand the challenges of recovery because substance addiction is a chronic brain disease. Our treatment programs incorporate compassionate care with the most effective methods for long-term sobriety. Call us today at (866) 774-1532 to begin a journey of healing.