Is a doctor or medical professional suggesting medications to help you manage your mental health? Perhaps you are struggling with a substance use disorder (SUD) and are being recommended medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Using medications as a treatment may be taboo in regard to treating SUD or other addictions. However, it is sometimes necessary. Additionally, prescriptions are often required when treating a mental health condition and stabilizing a mental health crisis. This may be for a number of reasons.
Prescription medications can be an effective way for people to manage their mental health conditions. It may also be necessary to continue living full and successful lives. Not everyone requires them, but for others, access to an effective medication can make all the difference in a life of recovery or just trying to get through each day. Talk to a doctor or mental health professional to discuss any concerns about using medication to treat a mental health crisis.
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Treating SUD with medications is a standard practice, especially during detox, to counteract withdrawal symptoms. Facilities may implement MAT differently, but it serves the same purpose – preventing overdose and maintaining recovery.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines MAT as “the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to prove a ‘whole-patient’ approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.” According to them, research shows that the combination of medication and behavioral therapy helps treat SUD and sustain long-term recovery.
Some professionals feel that MAT is most effective when custom-tailored and used on a case-by-case basis. It simply assists an overall treatment – it is not the primary treatment for SUD. Professionals must evaluate people before implementing MAT and continue to monitor their progress throughout treatment.
Part of the reason using medications to treat SUD is taboo is that individuals feel it substitutes one drug for another. That is not the case. Evidence shows the effectiveness of MAT in treating SUD, helping people through detox, reducing withdrawal symptoms, and helping people abstain from substances long-term. Other benefits of MAT, according to SAMHSA, include:
- Improving patient survival
- Increasing treatment retention
- Decreasing illicit opiate use and other potentially criminal activity in individuals with SUD
- Increasing a patient’s ability to obtain and maintain employment
- Improving birth outcomes in pregnant women who have SUD
Stabilizing a Mental Health Crisis With Medication
At Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention, we stabilize a crisis through a six-step plan. Those steps include:
- Defining the problem
- Ensuring safety
- Providing support
- Examining alternatives
- Making a plan
- Obtaining commitment
Support is required during and after a crisis. Our support options vary from whole-person wellness to recovery and safety planning. Another one of our support options is medication management, which helps clients manage and monitor their prescriptions.
We help clients manage pre-existing medications through a number of services:
- Reconciliation focuses on helping document prescriptions, dosages, schedules, and how they are administered
- Education helps clients understand what each prescription does, potential side effects, and more.
- Adjustment comes into play when a prescription stops being effective. We work with our medical staff to adjust dosages, identify ineffective meds, and change a prescription if necessary.
- Adherent support helps clients adhere to their meds when keeping track becomes challenging.
- Safe medication storage is vital for prescriptions with specific storage requirements, which we can accommodate.
Management services such as these are invaluable to clients seeking mental health treatment because we understand the effectiveness of using prescription meds to treat mental health conditions.
Treating Mental Health Conditions
It is important to preface that prescription meds are typically most effective at treating mental health conditions when combined with psychotherapies. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) indicates that medications play a role in treating mental illness and are “often used in combinations with other treatment approaches.”
Many groups of medications effectively help people manage their mental health conditions. Some examples include:
- Antidepressants are typically used to treat individuals with depression and sometimes anxiety, pain, and insomnia
- Anti-anxiety meds help reduce the symptoms of individuals with anxiety, panic attacks, and extreme fear or worry.
- Stimulants are prescribed to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy.
- Antipsychotics may be used to treat psychosis, which causes people to experience psychotic episodes characterized by delusions and hallucinations. They are typically used to treat individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, severe depression, or people with substance-induced psychosis.
- Mood stabilizers also treat depression, schizoaffective disorders, mental health conditions in children, and other disorders. For example, a mood stabilizer may be paired with antidepressants to reduce symptoms of bipolar disorder.
Like anything, there are risks or potential side effects associated with some of the medications. However, sometimes the unforeseen consequences of an untreated mental health condition are worse. Typically, mental health conditions are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Medications help stabilize the imbalances allowing people to live life while managing their symptoms.
Consider contacting us to learn more about why medications are often necessary for a mental health crisis or seek treatment today.
With the growing increase of individuals struggling with substance use disorders (SUD) and other addictive behaviors, the idea of using medications to treat SUD or mental health conditions or stabilize a mental health crisis may seem taboo. However, medications can be very effective. When treating SUD, medication-assisted treatment reduces withdrawal symptoms, increases the chances of abstaining from substances, and helps people avoid relapse. Medications are also vital to treating mental health, especially with other treatment modalities like behavioral therapies. Mental health conditions are often caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. Medications help stabilize these chemicals allowing you to successfully manage your symptoms long-term. For more information, call Alter San Diego Crisis Intervention at (866) 986-1481 today.