MAT Stands For Medication-Assisted Treatment.
Addiction treatment has been in the dark ages for a long time. When you are ready to stop drinking or using drugs, you might find yourself huddled in a group in a poorly-lit, dingy backroom of a church in a 12-step meeting. Or, you might find yourself sitting in a group circle in the well-lit meeting room of residential rehab. In either case, your chances of success in your recovery from addiction are in the 5-10% range.
Traditional addiction treatment is not enough.
Group support and talk therapy have a success rate in treating addiction that is a little better than the spontaneous recovery from addiction that can occur when an addicted person does nothing at all. Yes, you could spend hours and hours in meetings and spend 10s of thousands of dollars on rehab, and your outcome maybe just a little bit better than just trying to quit on your own.
Fortunately, for the deadliest of addictions, there are advanced medical therapies that work. MAT, or medication-assisted treatment, means using medication in conjunction with psychotherapy and group support to treat addiction. There is MAT for opioid use disorder. And, there is MAT for alcohol use disorder. Medications, such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, are used to treat opioid addiction. Naltrexone works well for alcoholism.
MAT is not available for all drug addictions.
While there is evidence that naltrexone may help to treat other forms of addiction, it may be of limited benefit. Addictions that involve drugs such as amphetamine, methamphetamine, and cocaine do not have medication-assisted treatment drugs approved by the FDA. Where opioid users can expect a 50-75% success rate with MAT and alcoholics can have up to a 78% success rate, people addicted to other drugs will have to settle for the lower success rates of group meetings and rehab. That is, until now.
Prescription Digital Therapeutics, An FDA Authorized Treatment For Addiction.
There is a new technology that leverages the power of our smartphones and always-on internet connections. It is a proven, scientifically designed mobile software solution to help treat addiction. And, this new tech is FDA authorized and only available with a doctor’s prescription. The name of this new class of therapy, “Prescription Digital Therapeutics,” or PDT.
Does PDT replace MAT?
No, not at all. Medication-assisted treatment is still a vital part of treating opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder. However, the long-term treatment plan for these conditions should include a standardized therapy overseen by a medical doctor or osteopathic physician. And, if the patient is addicted to a drug, such as methamphetamine, PDT can help, even though there is no MAT for meth addiction. With meth abuse on the rise, it is crucial to have additional proven tools such as PDT.
Does PDT replace therapy?
Again, therapy sessions with a licensed doctor of psychology with credentials in addiction treatment can make a big difference in long-term results. While prescription digital therapeutics does provide cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT, it does not replace your therapist or psychologist.
Does PDT replace 12-step meetings?
If you currently go to 12-step group meetings or a non-12-step group, if you are benefiting from it, don’t stop going. PDT cannot replace the value of building new friendships and connections to people who can support you throughout your recovery. Yet, PDT is entirely compatible with 12-step recovery.
Biology and technology, working together.
Top psychologists have helped to design highly addicting video games that manipulate young children and adults by tapping into the reward region of the brain. More and more, we have witnessed this “gamification” of our society. Now, experts have put their knowledge of the neural pathways of the human brain and psychology to good use in designing PDT software. Addiction hijacks the reward system of the brain. PDT can stimulate these regions of the brain with electronic rewards to move the focus away from destructive drugs. Prescription digital therapeutics leverages cognitive-behavioral therapy in a unique delivery system to reshape the patient’s behavior over time. PDT helps patients to identify triggers and change the way they respond to them.
The rise of PAT.
For decades, we have called addiction treatment that uses prescription drugs, MAT, or medication-assisted treatment. Now, doctors can prescribe more than medications for addiction. They can also prescribe FDA authorized prescription digital therapeutics. I propose that we change MAT to PAT or prescription-assisted treatment. PAT can include drugs, such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, and PDT software as well. PAT indicates that the prescribed therapy is an evidence-based treatment that a doctor prescribes to treat the patient’s addiction.
Doctors now have something to offer for all kinds of drug addiction.
For many drug addictions, doctors were only able to point the patient to therapy and group meetings or rehab. Now, doctors can prescribe PDT. Rehab doctors can prescribe PDT as well. So, when a patient presents with an addiction to a non-opioid, non-alcohol drug, doctors have something to prescribe that will help, even without MAT. When it comes to opioid or alcohol addiction, PDT and MAT go hand-in-hand. FDA authorized PDT is available now for doctors to prescribe to their patients to help them to overcome addiction.
PDT Is A Tool Suited For Our New World.
The world is changing fast with the arrival of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. We are adjusting to living and working differently, staying home, and using online video conferencing for school and work wherever possible. Many of these new practices will be with us for a long time to come and will become more refined as time goes on. Doctors are seeing patients using telemedicine, or telehealth, visits. Therapists are also using telemedicine technology to provide therapy to patients. Even rehabs and 12-step group meetings are going online. With the loss of in-person rehab and groups, we need all of the additional help we can get. PDT is an idea whose time has come at just the right time in history. Doctors can now see new patients with telemedicine for addiction and provide prescription therapy that does not even have to involve any medications at all. Most major health insurance companies have made arrangements for patients to have access to telemedicine doctors. If you are concerned about drug or alcohol addiction, make a telemedicine appointment today and talk to your online doctor about prescription digital therapeutics.