Currently, there is a conflict within the realms of opioid dependence treatment. To be more specific, specialists are having trouble getting authorization to effectively help people through medication-assisted treatment (MAT). There is a lack of understanding when it comes to the importance of MAT for those who are struggling with drug abuse. MAT uses medications like naltrexone, methadone, and buprenorphine. Specialists believe that people who are suffering from this issue can benefit from opioid dependence treatment that involves the use of medications. However, without full government authorization, support, and an overall understanding of this form of treatment, people may not be able to get this kind of treatment as easily as they should. Unfortunately, this matter is one of the main obstacles that has prevented some people from getting total access to all of the benefits of medication-assisted opioid dependence treatment.
The recent article by the expert team at Boston Medical Center has pointed out the main problem when it comes to the issue with MAT accessibility. Regulations enforced by the government have put restrictions on some of the medications that have already been approved for opioid dependence treatment. To be precise, three medications have gotten the stamp of approval. But, restrictions have been placed on two of them, making it more difficult or even impossible for some to have access to them. This, of course, limits the effectiveness of MAT for those who need help overcoming opioid abuse in their lives. And, as the experts of Boston Medical Center propose, the lack of provision can lead to many issues for those who are dealing with substance dependence. They even suggest that the fact that people don’t have access to all of the help MAT can offer could lead to overdose.
What’s the big deal? Many people ask this question when it comes to medication-assisted treatment. Others wonder if this kind of treatment is even effective. The truth is that there are definitely various approaches to treatment and many of them have proven to be helpful. But, to understand why MAT is so effective and helpful, you first have to understand substance dependence. A lot of people feel that opioid abuse and dependence is a choice. Or, they at least feel that these issues are the result of a choice to use the substance. But, substance dependence is actually classified as a mental health problem. In fact, you may even hear people refer to it as a disease. Since drug dependence is among actual illnesses, a medical approach is the best kind of opioid dependence treatment. That is where medication-assisted treatment comes in. MAT uses medication to help end dependence.
Unfortunately, it seems that government regulations point to a misunderstanding regarding MAT. Restrictions have been placed on two of the three previously approved medications. So, those who need opioid dependence treatment aren’t able to get the full advantages of this treatment. Perhaps, it’s because people don’t always see substance dependence as a medical problem. So, the overall issue here is a lack of education amongst both the public and the professionals. Some believe that using medication to treat substance dependence is basically trading one kind of opioid addiction for another. But, this isn’t the case. In fact, naltrexone, one of the medications sometimes used in MAT, is not actually an opioid. Also, MAT is not a form of addiction; it’s treatment. And, as expert Joshua A. Barocas, MD, states, “Just because your body requires something, that doesn’t mean it’s not treatment.”
Thankfully, changes are being made in order to provide the best quality of MAT for those who need it. And here at Diablo Valley Drug & Alcohol Services, we know that medication-assisted treatment can help people to overcome substance abuse for good. If you or someone you know is in need of opioid dependence treatment, we are here to help. Please contact us today to learn more about our MAT program and how we can help individuals find freedom from substance abuse and dependence.