Addiction to substances is way more common than you may think. In 2013, there were an estimated 24.6 million Americans who had used an illicit drug in the past month.
Illegal drugs are addictive. It is worrying to know that many over the counter medications, if misused, can also be very addictive. As an example, there is a class of medication called opioids. These are made from the poppy plant.
Whether drugs are legal or illegal, if they are addictive, you can be certain there are thousands of people addicted to them. Sadly, the wear and tear of life with its fast pace and high stress takes its toll on the American population with more and more people developing an addiction.
You might think going cold-turkey is the answer. People who go cold turkey rarely succeed. It’s much safer to get the help you need from a facility that offers medication assisted treatment.
This is your guide to what MAT is and what to expect.
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Medication Assisted Treatment Programs – Why?
The answer is because addiction is more powerful than will power alone. Further, the body can exhibit such severe withdrawal symptoms that it seems easier to get another fix instead of breaking the habit.
Not all addictive drugs are equal. Some are exceptionally addictive. Check out this article on the most addictive drugs here.
The cornerstone of breaking free from drugs permanently is rooted in solid counseling and therapy. To combine medication with therapy is helpful. It provides greater control over the rehabilitation experience.
First Step – Detox
Most often when someone makes the decision to break free from drugs they need to rid their body of the substance. This is detoxification.
For some people, they experience mental addiction and not physical addiction. In which case, they can enter a rehabilitation program without detoxing first. Still, it must be noted that the most severe addictions are usually physical in nature as well as mental and detoxification is the first vital step.
Physical addiction leads the body to become dependent on the substance in order to function. That means withdrawal is denying the body something it requires. This can be a harrowing experience and it can be dangerous for the person.
Medication can help make that withdrawal safer. It allows the person to function without the addicted substance in their body and helps create a safe environment in which to withdraw. It also helps to reduce the long term health effects of the drug.
These symptoms will vary depending on the substance someone is addicted to. Also, how long they have been using it as well as their general state of health.
Severe cravings are typical during withdrawal and that is to be expected. They will diminish over time but they can be very hard to deal with. Medication will help but they will not completely remove cravings for the substance.
Other withdrawal symptoms include headaches, feeling sick and even vomiting, a sense of anxiety and possibly depression.
Delirium Tremens – Case in Point
It may be general knowledge that withdrawal can be unpleasant and even dangerous. Yet, few may realize that alcohol is one of the most dangerous substances to withdraw from.
Delirium Tremens, or the DTs, as it is often referred to, is a state of severe confusion. There are many other physical symptoms such as shaking, shivering, sweating, extremely high body temperature, and seizures.
In about 3.5% of cases, it can result in death. Medical management is vital. The DTs are just one example of why it is sensible to use medication assisted treatment programs.
Differential Diagnosis – Don’t Miss It
Medication assisted treatment programs are also an important way to ensure expert medical help is always available to monitor the patient’s condition but also to ensure there is a differential diagnosis.
When someone is withdrawing from a substance they will experience certain unpleasant symptoms that we have already discussed here. However, you need to know that some of these symptoms may not just be related to the addictive substance leaving the body.
It is possible and even likely, some symptoms are the result of underlying damage to a person’s health as a result of substance abuse. For example, a damaged liver or kidneys. When that is the case, if you are part of a medical program it will be diagnosed and medically managed as soon as possible.
Post Detox – What Next?
Once the body has cleansed itself of the addictive substance the person is ready to begin their formal drug rehabilitation and therapy. Cravings may continue but they will have broken free from physical addiction. The journey begins to break from mental addiction.
There are many options but the most likely option will be inpatient care. These are residential addiction programs that can last from one month to several months depending on the drug and level of addiction.
Get the Help You Need – Now
No one will say breaking free from drugs is easy. However, there is no need to make it even harder. We have reviewed what medication assisted treatment programs are and what to expect. If someone genuinely wants to succeed they need professional help.
The important take home message in this article is that trying to detox without medical help can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Not only that, but there may be serious damage to long term health that can be avoided or at least minimized with medical help.
If you have questions then please get in touch here.