Recovery is not an easy process. The people, places and things that so tightly integrate into the lifestyle of drug usage require change and re-organization. Great motivation and intervention are required to overcome the many barriers to recovery. These barriers include financial deprivation, unemployment, legal problems, disordered family dynamics, physical illness, and mental illness. Deficiencies in any of these areas contribute to the disease of addiction. Treatment of addiction requires identifying and eliminating these barriers and involves an approach that addresses the whole person and use of holistic principles. Depending on circumstances, residential or out-patient treatment accompanied by peer support facilitate this transition. Involvement with individual counseling, group counseling and peer support programs, such as Twelve Step (Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous), Refuge Recovery or Smart Recovery are useful modalities of treatment. MAT is not the only pathway to success. Treatment can be successful without use of medications. However, by offering stability and defense from relapse, medications help patients effectively participate in treatment. The addition of medication to a treatment program also provides activation to pursue recovery and reduce frequency of setbacks while barriers to recovery are identified and corrected. Used in the treatment of opioid addictions, medications help interrupt the cycle of withdrawal and uncontrollable obsession to continue drug use. It is intended that these medications assist treatment but are not the primary means of treatment. This is how the term “Medication Assisted Treatment” or MAT originated. Medications can provide an advantage to patients receiving treatment for addiction. When barriers to recovery have been identified and corrected, one may consider discontinuing medication. The medications most frequently used during MAT include buprenorphine, buprenorphine/naloxone, methadone and naltrexone. Some of these medications are better known as brand names: Suboxone, Subutex, Sublocade and Vivitrol. How these medications work and how they differ from each other will be discussed in a later blog entry.
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