Common Misconceptions about Medication-Assisted Treatment
When most people think about “addiction rehab,” they envision the portrayal of substance use disorder and treatment facilities as seen in movies and television shows. Reality is far from fiction in this regard; there is very little attention shown on outpatient treatment programs that use medication-assisted treatment, also known as MAT. Many misunderstandings surround this form of treatment, as everyone assumes that those with substance use disorder will require a stint in a residential rehabilitation center. In order to break the stigma, it’s essential to learn about the most common misunderstandings surrounding this evidence-based treatment method.
MAT replaces Addiction
The way opioids affect the body and brain is difficult to understand without looking at the science and data behind it. Unfortunately, many still believe that addiction is a choice or character flaw rather than an actual disease. Because addiction is a medical disease, MAT uses scientifically-proven and FDA-backed medicines explicitly created to help long-term success rates by minimizing withdrawal sensations and gradually lowering or regulating a patient’s opioid dosage.
Methadone is one of the first medications used to treat opioid addiction. First used in the 1960’s, methadone was soon approved by the FDA in 1972 as a method of treatment. Since then, it’s been one of the most commonly used and most successful medications for opioid use disorder. The methadone myths that persist in society today can be harmful to those who are struggling with opioid addiction and need help. The medication methadone is not a substitution for heroin or other opioids; it’s a long-acting opioid agonist that helps relieve withdrawal symptoms and cravings, allowing a patient to focus on complete rehabilitation.
MAT is Short-Term
Medications used for MAT are not a “quick fix” for those with opioid use disorder. They are formulated to work for a chronic condition such as addiction to provide the most successful form of recovery whether a patient needs to remain on medication for a more extended period of time or ramp off their MAT dosage gradually over several months or years. Every patient that comes into a treatment facility will require a different approach and MAT medication depending on their health history, drug use, and lifestyle, which is why it’s so effective. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach with MAT, making it ideal for aiding opioid addiction due to the vast nature of the drug in its various forms and means of ingestion.
MAT is Expensive
There are MAT clinics found in almost every small town and large city in America. While not all methadone clinics are created equally, those that are providing the best care possible for patients and continue to help set people onto the road to recovery are highly rated and remain open and functioning for years to come. With the help of insurance companies, there are many affordable MAT programs, along with a “sliding scale” cost program to help those who need it most.
The methadone myths and misconceptions surrounding other MAT medicines used to help those with opioid use disorder are still prevalent in society. It’s important for people to learn about how MAT programs benefit those with addiction, so more of those who are suffering in silence will be encouraged to seek help.