Not too long ago, getting treatment for drug and alcohol addiction mostly meant walking into a 12-step meeting and relying on will-power, camaraderie, and a higher power to make a change. Today, there are more treatment options available than ever before. That’s great — it allows individuals to find the path to recovery that is right for them. However, it also means that there’s pressure to understand the treatment options and choose between them.

One common source of confusion is between medically-assisted detox, and medication-assisted treatment. Both of these treatment approaches can be helpful for people with opioid addiction or dependence. Although the names sound similar, the approaches are actually quite different. Medically-assisted detox helps people get off opioids entirely, whereas medication-assisted treatment helps people manage their substance use disorder by taking prescription opioids in a responsible and controlled way.

Here’s what you should know about each.

What is medically-assisted detox?

Medically-assisted detox, like that provided by Waismann Method® Opioid Treatment and Rapid Detoxification Specialists is designed to help patients get through the drug detoxification process in a safe, dignified and comfortable way.

Facing the prospect of detoxing from opioids is daunting. The symptoms of opioid detox are intense, including nausea, shaking, fatigue and more. In some circles, there’s a belief that going through the pain of detox prepares people for recovery. However, the intense physical and emotional toll of opioid withdrawal can leave people scared and discouraged to even try to attempt detox, which could lead many down the destructive path of addiction.

Medically-assisted detox offers an effective option for those ready to be opioid-free. By medically managing the withdrawal symptoms while in a controlled environment, people tend to be more comfortable, have fewer health complications and more importantly, a much greater chance to succeed. Furthermore, being opioid-free allows people to be emotionally present to start addressing the physical or mental pain that likely caused them to turn to opioids.

The specifics of a medically-assisted detox program vary, depending on the patient’s individual health needs, wishes, and treatment provider. At Waismann Method® Opioid Treatment and Detoxification Specialists, a medically-assisted detox is provided in a hospital, ensuring that patients have a comfortable experience as they detox from opioids and that they have access to qualified medical staff to keep them safe throughout the procedure.

What is medication-assisted treatment?

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a long-term approach to managing opioid use disorder. It has been shown to have great success in keeping people from abusing or misusing opioids; however, there is an important caveat: the medications you take to manage the condition are themselves opioids and your body is still dependent on those drugs.

Two medications commonly used for MAT are suboxone and methadone. They are both opioids, which have the potential for abuse. That’s why MAT programs are so carefully supervised — for example, you might have to pick up your medication daily. However, since these opioids are carefully managed and administered in a medical setting, they significantly reduce the harm that someone would encounter using and abusing opioids like heroin or fentanyl.

Research has shown that MAT can help people stay in recovery and reduce their risk of relapse. Using MAT is a valid and real approach to recovery — but it’s one that means you’ll be taking medication, possibly for the rest of your life.

Is medically-assisted detox or MAT right for me?

Medically-assisted detox and MAT are both effective ways of addressing opioid use disorder. Ultimately, it comes down to what feels right for you. Medically-assisted detox will help clear your body of opioids. With the scary and often painful withdrawal symptoms taken care of in a comfortable and controlled medical setting, you’ll be able to focus on healing the pain that brought you to opioid use in the first place.

MAT also allows you to mitigate some of the symptoms of detox, though not all. You will still be taking prescription opioids, but in a controlled and approved way, without the risks of procuring drugs illegally or engaging in other risky behaviors. MAT is very effective at helping people stay away from illicit drugs. However, you will need to commit to the program, and to taking your medication every day. Also, if you choose to undergo a medically assisted detoxification, and you are opioid-free, you can use the non-opioid medication naltrexone (oral form) or Vivitrol (monthly injection). Unlike suboxone and methadone, naltrexone and Vivitrol are not opioids and have no addiction risks. They work by blocking opioid receptors in the brain and reducing cravings. Some people prefer naltrexone because it is not an opioid, and there is no physical dependence nor potential for abuse. Others prefer Vivitrol since it is administered as a shot once a month and will have less of an impact on your daily life.

In the past decades, opioids have ravished Americans. But one small silver lining to the opioid epidemic is that medical professionals have developed more effective and safe approaches to treatment. When you’re weighing medically-assisted detox or MAT, remember that there’s no wrong approach. You need to discuss the best option for you with your healthcare professional. Both options can help manage your opioid use in order to live a healthier and more balanced life. 

By: The Fix staff
Title: Medically-Assisted Detox Versus Medication-Assisted Treatment
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Published Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2021 06:00:23 +0000

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