All about medication assisted treatment for drug addiction
There is a widespread belief that using medication to help people overcome substance abuse is basically swapping one addiction for a different one. However, it is not really how it works, and addiction is more complex than that. It is important to recognize that. People are not very well informed about addiction, and there is a lot they don’t know about helping someone fight one. Here are a couple of things people should know about medication assisted treatment for drug addiction and other possible solutions that can be combined with it.
Addiction is a disease
Unfortunately, addiction still is shrouded in stigma almost the same way mental illness is. There is the notion that addiction is a choice. This is simply incorrect since most medical associations now recognize it as a disease. It is seen in the same category as cancer and heart disease or diabetes since it usually starts because of several factors – the environment, biology and mental status of the patient. The brain starts functioning differently and this change might happen because of substance use, or it might already exist in an individual. The biggest thing is to identify addiction in time and to get the patient help.
How does MAT work?
Understanding the way substance use changes the brain is important to explain then why MAT works. Opiates cross the barrier between the blood and the brain becoming attached to receptors on brain cells. This can impact dependence.
When a medical professional gives the patient opiates, they activate the same receptors. However, this time they are absorbed by the blood, and it takes a longer time. It keeps the withdrawal at bay and severs the psychological attachment between the user and the high it induces.
Another way is to give someone a drug that doesn’t contain opiates which block the receptors, so if the patient goes into relapse there is no feeling of the glorious high.
However, in any addiction treatment there needs to be a consistent follow-up. A variety of different approaches also helps the patient together with the medication. It has to be said that the medication has to be taken as prescribed, and if the patient goes off it and then relapses, the outcome is lethal in most cases. The body’s tolerance towards the substance (heroin, opiates, etc.) decreases during long periods of abstinence.
Individual and group therapy, as well as assisted living, help people to stay on track with the MAT. Addiction is a very alienating disease, and many friends and family members will drift away from the patient. Therefore, it is important to reinforce as much happiness as possible by helping them adapt to the world of human socialization.
Art therapy also helps people to fight addictions and keep on the medication. It helps because the part of the brain which was once concentrating on the drugs is now concentrating on doing something else that isn’t destructive.