Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an effective approach to addiction treatment. As the name implies, MAT uses medications to help those struggling with addiction overcome their condition.
SAMHSA defines MAT as ‘the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.’
Medical intervention is one aspect of a broader approach used in addiction treatment. Medication helps clients manage their problematic symptoms. As a result, they can engage more in other parts of treatment. Clients in addiction recovery programs receive intensive psychotherapy, behavioral therapy and counseling, as well as life coaching and skills building alongside medical support.
What Does MAT Treat?
MAT treats clients struggling with:
- Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
- Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)
The medications used in MAT promote healthy brain chemistry by rebalancing the hormones and chemicals in the body that have become out of balance due to alcohol or opioid misuse.
Some MAT medications block the effect of alcohol and opioids on the brain. This serves to reduce cravings and helps clients get through the withdrawal stage of recovery.
Other medications prevent the body from becoming overwhelmed by abstinence from a given drug. For example, sudden cessation of opioid use can be dangerous if the client has a physical dependence. As such, MAT would involve substituting the client’s substance of misuse with a safer, controlled substance, such as methadone.
What Are MAT Medications?
Methadone is an effective medication used in opioid addiction treatment. Methadone treatment aims to ease the withdrawal symptoms that occur when a client stops using opioids. Withdrawal is one of the leading causes of relapse. Methadone helps clients get through withdrawal safely so they can start the rest of their recovery.
Buprenorphine reduces cravings for clients struggling with OUD. Similar to methadone, Buprenorphine is a partial agonist which means it activates the opioid receptors in the brain, but to a far lesser degree than a full agonist. Buprenorphine, unlike methadone, does not produce a high.
Naltrexone is prescribed under the brand name Vivitrol. Naltrexone reduces cravings and lowers rates of relapse in both OUD and AUD. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, which means it blocks the brain’s opioid receptors. As such, it becomes impossible to achieve the ‘high’ associated with opiate-derived drugs. MAT providers use Naltrexone after the detox stage of recovery, not before or during.
What Are the Benefits of Medication-assisted Treatment?
SAMHSA reports that MAT helps clients struggling with AUD or OUD achieve and maintain sobriety. MAT supports clients on a chemical level while also supporting their behavioral health through behavioral therapies.
Addiction treatment programs use MAT to suit the client’s needs. Some medications and therapeutic approaches will be more suitable than others, depending on a range of factors, such as your history of drug misuse and your current health status. MAT’s comprehensive and tailored approach offers a range of benefits to clients. Benefits of MAT include:
- Increased engagement in rehab and therapy
- Increased likelihood of completing a rehab program
- Decreased symptom severity
- Improved chances of gaining and maintaining employment
- Reduced risk of relapse
Why Choose MAT?
There are many reasons to opt for MAT if you are struggling with AUD or OUD. MAT is an effective treatment approach for both of these disorders. Delivered alongside counseling and behavioral therapy, MAT is an integrated approach to addiction recovery. It can increase the time a person spends in treatment, which increases their chance of recovery success.
Some people disregard MAT as substituting one drug for another, but this is not the case. MAT is safe. While MAT involves drugs, the medications used are highly regulated at a federal level and are FDA approved. MAT promotes addiction recovery by keeping the body as safe as possible. It reduces the risk of overdose that might happen if a client were to seek illicit drugs on the street.
MAT is an approach to addiction treatment endorsed and supported by:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- American Medical Association (AMA)
A comprehensive and integrated approach to treatment, MAT is a leading treatment type for both alcohol and opioid addiction. By easing withdrawal symptoms, MAT promotes greater resilience and encourages a deeper commitment to one’s recovery.
At Enlightened Solutions, we offer our clients tools to use as they move forward in a sober lifestyle. We focus on healing the whole person and not just treating the addiction. Enlightened Solutions is a licensed co-occurring treatment center. We treat both substance use disorders and the mental health issues that frequently accompany addiction. Our treatment program is rooted in the 12-Step philosophy and provides each client an individualized recovery plan. At Enlightened Solutions, we offer a range of treatment modalities, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), family constellation therapy, art and music therapy, yoga and meditation, massage,reiki, acupuncture and chiropractic care, and equine-assisted therapy. Our facility near the picturesque southern shore of New Jersey allows us to provide optimal healing and relaxation. If you struggle with addiction, or if someone close to you does, please call us at (833) 801-5483 for more information.