According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), more people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. The majority of these drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid. Since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin) nearly quadrupled. From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. Reportedly, 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
In response to this terrifying epidemic, the use of Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is on the rise. MAT is the use of medications, combined with counseling to treat substance use disorders. Research has proven the effectiveness of MAT and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and addiction treatment experts endorse it. Ongoing research efforts are testing additional medications that show promise for treating alcohol and cocaine addiction.
If a person is addicted, MAT allows him/her to regain a normal state of mind, free of drug-induced highs and lows. It frees the person from thinking about the drug all the time. It can reduce problems of withdrawal and craving. These changes can give the person the chance to focus on the lifestyle changes that lead back to healthy living.
Taking medication for opioid addiction is not like taking medication to control heart disease or diabetes. There is complexity involved in prescribing these medications as they have the capacity to be abused themselves, as well integrate into a larger cycle of relapse. However, prescribed properly and under the supervision of knowledgeable professionals medication can be an effective tool in treatment for addiction. Medication can help people manage their addiction so that the benefits of recovery can be maintained. Medication without addressing the underlying issues is a temporary stop gap. The real use of these medications is to create a reprieve from the obsession to use, so that one has a real chance to engage in a process of growth.
At Recover Integrity, we fully support the responsible application of MAT where the need is indicated.