MAT: A Comprehensive Approach to Treating Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcoholism is a serious, lifelong disease that affects individuals physically, mentally, and socially. It is defined by an intense craving for alcohol or continued consumption of alcohol despite adverse consequences and impaired control over drinking.
People with alcoholism tend to have higher rates of other mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It can lead to severe health problems without proper treatment, including organ damage, liver damage, and heart disease. A study found that alcohol use also increases the risk of developing cancer.
One of the sought-after treatments for alcoholism is called Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT). The medication-assisted treatment for alcohol use disorder is designed to help people reduce their drinking, alleviate cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and maintain abstinence over time. MAT may combine medications, such as Gabapentin, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram, combined with counseling or psychotherapy. Medical professionals, including doctors, therapists, and counselors, work together to create a personalized treatment plan tailored to the needs of each patient. With their assistance, patients can develop a comprehensive approach to their recovery.
Signs Of Alcohol Use Disorder
Some signs and symptoms may indicate a problem with alcohol use disorder. Here are some of the most common signs:
- Developing a tolerance for alcohol, needing more to get the same effect.
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when not drinking, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety.
- Neglecting other responsibilities due to drinking or being hungover.
- Experiencing blackouts or memory lapses after drinking.
- Drinking more than intended or in higher amounts than desired.
- Trying to quit or reduce drinking but being unable to do so.
- Having difficulty controlling when and how much one drinks.
If you recognize any of these signs in yourself or a loved one, it is crucial to seek help immediately. MAT can be the best solution for the recovery process for many people, and it is vital to get started on treatment as soon as possible.
Medication-Assisted Treatment Plan for Alcoholism
Every patient’s treatment plan is unique, depending on their individual needs. Healthcare professionals have straightforward guidelines to follow. Of course, the first step is that patients must call their preferred provider and schedule an appointment to assess their needs. Some MAT service firms, like Confidant Health, have a downloadable application tool for a more convenient process. For more information, Confidant Health is an app that provides expert help for medication-assisted treatment. With Confidant Health, you’ll have access to a team of experts who can support and guide your medication-assisted treatment journey. In any case, the patient must be willing to take part in therapy sessions and follow their treatment plan.
The following are the general steps for MAT for alcoholism:
Evaluation and assessment
First and foremost, a doctor or other healthcare professional will assess the patient to diagnose any underlying conditions and determine the treatment plan. During the evaluation, a medical specialist may order lab tests, physical exams, and mental health screenings to evaluate the patient’s condition.
Once the evaluation is complete, the patient’s healthcare provider will select and prescribe medications to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms caused by alcohol use disorder. They may prescribe a combination of drugs or just one depending on the patient’s condition and response to treatment. As mentioned, FDA-approved medications, such as Gabapentin, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram, are most commonly prescribed.
Counseling and behavioral therapy
It’s no secret that counseling and behavioral therapy are integral to the recovery process. While medications can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, counseling helps patients learn how to cope with their drinking triggers, develop healthy habits and behaviors, and rebuild relationships.
An experienced counselor has an extensive understanding of addiction and recovery. They will sit down with the patient, talk about their experiences, assess the thoughts and feelings that influence their drinking, and provide strategies to help them make sustainable changes in their life.
Once they fully understand the patient, they can provide individualized counseling sessions to meet their needs. They may recommend:
- Group, family, or individual counseling sessions
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- 12-step programs
- Motivational interviewing
- Relapse prevention therapy
- Life skills training and development
The power of counseling and behavioral therapy is more than just understanding the root of the problem. It is also about forming a connection and creating an atmosphere of trust between the patient and their healthcare provider, which is essential for recovery. A reliable counselor aims to help patients face their challenges, learn more about themselves, and make better decisions for their overall well-being.
The recovery process continues after completing the treatment plan. Regular follow-ups are important to monitor a patient’s progress and ensure that any changes in medication or behavior are addressed promptly.
During the visits, healthcare professionals will talk to the patient about their progress and changes they’ve made to make any needed adjustments. A healthcare professional may also suggest lifestyle living changes such as exercise, healthy eating, and adequate sleep to help the patient maintain sobriety.
Get The Right Support Now
Medication-assisted treatment can be an effective part of a comprehensive recovery plan for alcohol use disorder and other addictions. Though it may vary depending on the patient’s needs and lifestyle, seeking professional help is a significant step in addressing substance abuse issues and getting back on track. Recovery is a long journey, and this type of service will help ensure that patients have the support they need to bring them one step closer to a healthier and more fulfilling life.