MAT: Medication Assisted Treatment
A recent trend in the addiction treatment industry has seen the increasing adoption of MAT, an alternative approach to the treatment of drug addiction. What exactly is MAT? And how can it help?
MAT supplements a patient treatment program by incorporating other, doctor approved, drugs into the regime. Think of using a nicotine patch to wean smokers away from cigarettes. Rather than going the whole cold turkey, some addicts simply respond better to a slow weaning process. Evidence exists that this intermediate step can give some addicts that little extra support to ensure they stay in a treatment program through to completion. According to no less an august body than the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the use of FDA approved medications as part of a full support program may help recovering addicts stay longer in therapy, extend their periods of sobriety, reduce the likelihood of catastrophic recidivism, and even ultimately set them firmly on the path to successful recovery.
A cause for much debate in treatment circles, this new approach has some providers questioning the logic behind it. If the plan is to stop, then stop. Some see MAT as trading one addiction for another - nicotine patch addicts can remain just as addicted as cigarette smokers. Further, the associated costs for the alternative medications are an issue for others, as they increase the overall price of treatment, which must be passed along to the patient. All good arguments. And there are more.
However, regardless of your position on this emerging treatment methodology, it does appear to work for a certain percentage of the patient population. Not for everybody, certainly, but for some, perhaps. It may be that treatment providers will move to offer both traditional and MAT options. As another string to a medical bow, MAT can be considered as simply another treatment tool which may be used dependant on need.
MAT may fall by the wayside, become mainstream, or develop into a clinical specialty. As with most things medical, time will tell. Whichever way things eventually go we do expect this trend to develop further as we move into 2017. We will follow it with interest, and keep you informed. Watch this space.