Undergoing opioid withdrawal feels like having an awful case of the flu. Nausea, body ache, fever, and fatigue are typical withdrawal symptoms. Anxiety, depression, restlessness, and irritability are usually part of the process too. Unfortunately, treatment drop-out rates are relatively high, and if the opioid-addicted individual relapses, overdosing likely—and often deadly. At our Drug Treatment Center, we recognize the importance of keeping opioid-dependent clients in treatment. The use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to treat opioid-dependent individuals has been shown to keep them in treatment longer and help them to engage in the program.
Despite continuing evidence that MAT programs are an effective method in treating opioid addiction, there are still stigmas and myths surrounding the treatment. People coping with opioid addiction may not know MAT programs are available to them. They may feel ashamed about their addiction or given false information about this form of treatment. These harmful myths and stigmas surrounding medication-assisted treatment can be damaging and prevent life-saving efforts.
One of the biggest misconceptions about medication-assisted treatment is that it merely trades one for another. Medications used during MAT may be the very thing that stabilizes a patient and helps keep them in recovery. By mitigating the physical and mental pain that is often associated with opioid withdrawal, MAT helps patients feel healthy and ready to work towards their goals of sobriety.
It’s important to remember that medication-assisted treatment isn’t a “quick fix.” Like any successful recovery and rehabilitation, medication-assisted treatment may be a lifelong process that requires both the ongoing efforts of trained medical staff and a patient who wishes to continue in their sobriety.
Medication-assisted treatment doesn’t “disrupt” the recovery process—for many, it is an important step in the recovery process.