In the struggle to help addicts get to a cleaner place in life, there are two different strategies that are currently in use. The two treatment methods couldn’t be more different in their processes and views. The one method that has been used for decades is the “cold turkey” approach to detoxification. The latest recovery method is Medication-Assisted Treatment.

Some critics would say that it isn’t a good idea to use medications to treat addicts that are trying to get off chemical reliance but, there have been excellent results with this method so far. Medication-Assisted Treatments allow for addicts to complete their detox in more comfort and with fewer medical complications.

Treating addictions with medication may seem like a solution that is just exacerbating the problem. However, the medications that are used are short-term solutions to help patients get past the toughest part of their recovery process. Offering a more humane and manageable way to detox is much less intimidating to many addicts that are nervous about recovery.

What Is MAT?

Medication-Assisted Treatment is exactly what it sounds like. When a patient enters a rehab facility they will undergo a 7-day period of detoxification from all addictive substances. This results in some extreme physical withdrawal symptoms. Many addicts go through high levels of anxiety, uncontrollable cravings, shaking, vomiting and even seizures.

With MAT, patients are given medications to help reduce some of the powerful symptoms of detox. A physician will closely monitor all doses and quickly wean patients off once they are through the worst of the detox. 

Medications like Suboxone, Naltrexone and Ativan are given in small doses to patients to help them feel less pain and discomfort during the process of getting substances out of their bodies. 

MAT vs. Cold Turkey

For decades, rehabilitation centers have been relying on the cold turkey method of detox. Although this is an effective way to get an addict’s body “clean”, it is a harsh and painful process. For many addicts, it is the fear of detoxing alone that keeps them from seeking help. 

When patients chose the cold turkey approach they will be forced to withstand endless hours of physical suffering. Panic attacks, seizures, uncontrollable shaking, and depression are just some of the things that happen during a typical detox.

With MAT, patients have less severe withdrawal symptoms, can remain calmer to get the rest that they need to heal their bodies, and are more likely to stay in the program instead of quitting when the detox becomes too much to handle.

Dual Diagnosis

Healthy, confident and centered people don’t often become addicts. Most addicts, whether their drug of choice is alcohol, gambling, prescription drugs or narcotics are battling other issues well before they become addicts. 

Many people who are suffering from mental health issues will turn to substance abuse as a way to self-medicate and self-regulate. When choosing a treatment center it is important to find a place that will help you focus on your underlying issues and not just your addiction.

Conclusion

There are millions of people that are struggling with addiction in the U.S. but, there is plenty of help out there for people who want to start rebuilding their lives. A MAT style of recovery may give patients more confidence in their ability to get through the toughest part of their treatment and move forward in their lives.

Cite this article as:
Editorial Staff, "Is Treating Addiction With Medication A Wise Solution?," in Medicalopedia, October 31, 2019, [Permalink: https://www.medicalopedia.org/7910/is-treating-addiction-with-medication-a-wise-solution/].