What is MAT and How Does Opioid Misuse Impact the Brain?
Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat patients with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). OUD is a condition where a patient’s brain chemistry has changed through the misuse of Opiates such as Heroin, Hydrocodone, Morphine, Oxycodone, Dilaudid, Fentanyl, and Codeine. The primary goals of MAT are treating withdrawal and preventing relapse. Opioids are already in our brain naturally. They are a part of the brain’s reward system that makes us feel good when we do good things (The Limbic System). Overstimulating the brain’s pleasure system to get high makes it harder for the brain to feel pleasure on its own. With prolonged use, the neurotransmitters that produce good feelings (dopamine and serotonin) start to struggle to feel good about anything but the drug that is damaging the brain. Left untreated, this can cause a lack of ability to feel pleasure from healthy things like eating, sleeping, relationships, sobriety, health, and reaching goals. MAT stabilizes the body so that the patient can focus in therapy on how to create a life the patient doesn’t need to escape from through the misuse of drugs.
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