Medical Detox vs MAT

If you or a loved one suffers from drug or alcohol addiction, fear of withdrawal symptoms may make treatment seem frightening. It is important to know what treatment options are available for managing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Medical detox vs MAT can offer safe and effective ways to begin the treatment process, and take the first steps on the road to long-term recovery.

Understanding Substance Abuse Treatment Options

There are five primary treatment options that vary in intensity and applicability, depending on the level of addiction and treatment requirements. These options ensure that treatment remains uniform and the patient can be transitioned between options as necessary. The American Society of Addiction Medicine has defined these categories as:

  1. Early Intervention
  2. Outpatient Services
  3. Intensive outpatient (IOP) or partial hospitalization (PHP)
  4. Inpatient or residential service
  5. Medically managed intensive inpatient services

Medical detox is typically undertaken at the beginning of treatment, while medication-assisted treatment can be performed at any stage.

What is Medical Detox?

Medical detoxification is not a stand-alone substance abuse treatment; rather it is the first step in the treatment journey. Detox is offered in a variety of settings from clinics and hospitals to treatment centers, and the process can vary depending on the needs of the patient. 

The detox process is the first part of the treatment process and includes:

  • Clearing the body of intoxicating substances, such as opiates and alcohol
  • Restoring the body to a sober state
  • Preparing the individual for continued treatment

Medically supervised detoxes have three essential parts:

1. Evaluation – Sometimes referred to as intake or an intake assessment, the individual is tested to determine which types of substances and how much are in the bloodstream. In addition to substance testing, the evaluation includes a comprehensive assessment to determine if there are other medical or psychological conditions that may also need to be addressed during and after treatment. 

2. Stabilization – During the stabilization stage of detox, medical and psychological assistance is provided to keep the person in a medically stable, substance-free state during withdrawal. Generally, stabilization involves the use of medication to safely guide the person through the detoxification process. An explanation of what to expect during treatment and recovery is given to the individual. Close friends or family may be asked to be involved to show support. 

3. Fostering the individual’s readiness to enter treatment – Medical detox is the first step in the recovery process for many. It is not designed to treat the underlying social, behavioral, or psychological issues that may have led an individual to drug or alcohol abuse. Because detox is designed to handle immediate, acute needs of the addict, it is important to prepare the person to enter into treatment by emphasizing the importance of participating in the complete recovery process in order to achieve long-lasting sobriety.

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

Medication-assisted treatment — or MAT — is a whole-person approach for the treatment of substance use disorders that can be provided at any stage during treatment as part of inpatient or outpatient care. MAT uses a combination of FDA-approved medications and counseling services, which also include behavioral therapy, vocational services, and education services. The medications used in MAT are not designed to substitute one drug for another, but are used to manage withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings by:

  • Blocking euphoric effects of drugs or alcohol
  • Controlling the urge to consume drugs or alcohol

The medications used in medication-assisted treatment include opioid dependence medications or alcohol dependence medications.

Opioid Dependence Medications:

Opioid dependence medications are designed to minimize cravings and withdrawal symptoms. 

  • Naloxone — a medication that blocks feelings of euphoria from opioid drugs. In emergency situations, a naloxone injection is used to treat overdose, as it can help to fully block the opioid receptors in the brain.
  • Buprenorphine — a medication used to suppress or reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids
  • Suboxone — a combination of both naloxone and buprenorphine used to treat withdrawal symptoms and cravings produced by opioid addictions. 

Alcohol Dependence Medications:

Alcohol withdrawal can cause side-effects that include sweating, anxiety, stomach aches, high blood pressure, heart palpitations and, in some serious instances, seizures and hallucinations. Medications used to treat alcohol dependence mitigate these symptoms and help control cravings during recovery.

Benzodiazepines — medications that are used to control alcohol withdrawal symptoms including seizures and anxiety

Disulfiram — a medication used to treat chronic alcoholism that deters a person from drinking by causing unpleasant side-effects if the person chooses to drink while taking the medication.

Acamprosate — a medication that helps individuals abstain from drinking by rewiring the brain to not crave alcohol

Naltrexone — a medication used to block feelings of intoxication in people who abuse alcohol and to prevent cravings

Medical Detox vs MAT

Both medical detox and MAT use FDA-approved medication to manage withdrawal symptoms. The primary difference between medical detox and MAT is when the process is used during treatment. Medical detox is typically used during the beginning of treatment. Medication-assisted treatment can be used at any stage of treatment, and can be used in an in-patient or out-patient setting. As a result, medical detox vs MAT highlights a few key differences.

Drug and Alcohol Rehab in California

If you want to learn more about medical detox vs MAT, please call us right now. We are here to help.

Entering into outpatient or inpatient treatment does not have to be scary. There are an ever-growing number of treatment centers that offer medical detox, medication-assisted treatment, or both, to help manage withdrawal symptoms and take the first step on the road to recovery. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol or drug addiction reach out to us

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