As the name suggests, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medication—often in combination with behavioral therapies—to treat addiction. This involves using medications like Suboxone, Methadone, Vivitrol or others to block some of the effects of addictive substances, prevent withdrawal symptoms, or reduce cravings.
Medication-Assisted Treatment is most often used for Opioid Use Disorder or Alcohol Use Disorder. Some medications, like Suboxone, contain a partial opioid agonist. Buprenorphine—the partial opioid agonist in Suboxone—activates the opioid receptors in the brain, but to a lesser extent than the substance of use. Suboxone also contains Naloxone, which helps reverse the effects of opioids. Drugs like Antabuse, used for Alcohol Use Disorder, cause unpleasant side-effects if a person drinks.
The length of MAT will depend on which medication is used and the philosophy of the care team. Some harm reduction programs may focus on maintenance, meaning MAT might be long-term or indefinite. Abstinence programs that provide MAT will often use medications to help with early recovery. The goal is to gradually get the person off all substances.
While using medications for treatment can be controversial, it’s proven effective. A study published in the journal Contemporary Clinical Trials found that at a 3.5 year follow-up of people who had been treated with MAT, 61% of people were abstinent. Fewer than 10% met diagnostic criteria for drug dependence.
MAT is most effective when combined with psychological support, such as individual or group therapy. It is important to address the underlying reasons for use as well as the physical symptoms of addiction. A more comprehensive treatment plan will not only get a person off substances, but also help them improve their quality of life.
At Amatus Recovery Centers, we offer short-term MAT (Suboxone and Vivitrol). At our recovery centers across the country, we will help you break free from substances and build a life in long-term recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.