Our Stance on Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Courtney Bartley, Director of Foundations Withdrawal Management Program
So, what are MAT services?
Medication-Assisted Treatment, otherwise known as MAT, is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat different types of substance use disorders. Some commonly used MAT medications include Acamprosate, Naltrexone (Vivitrol), and Buprenorphine products such as Suboxone, Zubsolv, and Subutex.
The topic of MAT can sometimes be a controversial topic in the field of addiction treatment. There are multiple opinions about the course and use of MAT.
For example, some may believe that MAT is a lifelong process and individuals need this therapy indefinitely to maintain active recovery.
Others may hold no belief in MAT and proclaim that abstinence is the only way to obtain full recovery.
This wide array of beliefs opens the door to the discussion about how MAT is being used or not used to support recovery.
Here at The Counseling Center (TCC), we support the use of MAT medication; however, that support is dependent on the appropriate use of MAT.
You may ask, what do you mean by appropriate use?
For starters, research has consistently demonstrated that MAT must be coupled with counseling and behavioral therapies. If you give a diabetic insulin, but they continue to eat donuts every day, then we have only put a band aid on the problem and not addressed the underlying issues of making better nutritional decisions.
This band aid will only work for so long. The same is true about MAT.
The medications used in MAT enters the body, attaches to specific receptors, and helps to return the body back to homeostasis (much like insulin); however, if we do not apply behavioral therapies and counseling to address the underlying issues then we are not treating the problem.
So what about timelines, how long are individuals supposed to be on MAT? (Talk about a loaded question!?)
Timeframes for MAT services should be individualized per every specific patient.
Undoubtedly, there are those individuals who will need to be on MAT services indefinitely; however, here at TCC, we believe in providing every patient with the opportunity for full recovery without the use of any mood or mind altering substances.
For example, an individual may enter TCC services at our highest level of care 3.7 Withdrawal Management (AKA Foundations, AKA #Foundies). Here the individual may receive a full opiate agonist initially and when the potential for precipitated withdrawal is minimal/excluded they will be transferred over to a partial opioid agonist/antagonist. As the patient progresses through the recovery process, they are given the opportunity to step down – which will eventually bring them to the option of complete abstinence or maintenance therapy with a full antagonist medication.
We’re here to help.
TCC has consistently and successfully provided MAT for more than a decade now. Regardless of whether or not someone believes in the use of MAT, research has demonstrated that MAT can positively affect an individual’s recovery. Here at TCC, we believe in using these facts as a basis for providing comprehensive services. These services assist in meeting the individualized needs of each patient while helping them navigate their own personal path of recovery.
I encourage you to follow us on Facebook and Instagram as we continue to share our thoughts and practices in the business of Mental Healthcare. If you or someone you love is in need of behavioral treatment of any kind–reach us at 740.354.6685 or 24/7 on the Crisis Hotline 740.354.1010.
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