Medication-Assisted Treatment - Drug and Alcohol - Addiction Recovery

The Ultimate Guide to MAT: Everything You Need to Know About Medication-Assisted Treatment

The Ultimate Guide to MAT: Everything You Need to Know About Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is an evidence-based and highly effective way to treat drug and alcohol addiction. Learn how with our guide!

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Drug and Alcohol

Addiction Recovery

November 24, 2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)reports 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2017. Of these, 47,600 (67.8%) involved opioids. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an effective way to treat addiction and dependence on opioids. 

MAT combines behavioral therapy and medications to provide a comprehensive treatment plan for those struggling with addiction. This approach is particularly effective in treating opioid addiction.

Statistics show that MAT is effective in helping people recover from substance abuse and can lead to a cleaner, substance-free life. MAT can be used as part of a recovery program or as a standalone treatment.

What Is a Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program?

MAT is an important treatment option for those struggling with addiction. It offers a way to detox and recover without going through withdrawal. MAT is a federally regulated program that uses FDA-approved medications to help people wean from opioids. It is a long-term treatment option that is effective in helping people achieve and maintain sobriety.

There are many different types of MAT programs, so it is important to find one that is appropriate for an individual. The most important thing is to get started on the path to recovery and a clean, substance-free life.

MAT medication-assisted treatment can help people recover from addiction by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. 

It can also make it easier for people to stick to their treatment plan and stay in recovery. MAT is not a magic cure, but it can be an important tool in helping people achieve and maintain sobriety.

Why Is MAT Therapy Necessary?

In the late 1990s, the pharmaceutical industry pushed doctors to prescribe opioid pain relievers by insisting that patients would not become addicted. Examples of prescription pain relievers included oxycodone, hydrocodone, and codeine. As a result, healthcare providers began prescribing opioids more frequently and gradually the problem of addiction flourished.

At first, it seemed as though opioids were a miracle drug. Doctors were prescribing them at an increasing rate, and people were using them exactly how they were intended to be secondary. However, once they found out that they could be highly addictive, things changed quite drastically.

The opioid crisis became a major public health problem in 2017 when the Department of Health Services declared a public health emergency.

It is the same pharmaceutical industry that caused the opioid epidemic that has now introduced medication-assisted treatment to aid individuals to recover from their substance addictions.

Must Know Facts About MAT

MAT can change lives for the better. Here are some interesting facts about MAT and the role it plays in recovery from addiction.

MAT Therapy Is an Effective Treatment for Many Types of Addiction

This type of therapy uses medication to help detoxify and minimalize the effects of withdrawal symptoms. It can also help to reduce cravings and the risk of relapse. 

MAT Therapy Is Particularly Effective for Those Addicted to Opioids

Opioid addiction is a growing problem in the US, and MAT therapy is an effective treatment for this type of addiction. Research has shown that when used correctly, MAT therapy can be an effective tool in the fight against addiction.

Medication Assisted Treatment, or MAT, is a treatment method for addiction that combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders. 

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Reasons MAT Is Necessary

It addresses both the physical and psychological aspects of addiction. 

By treating the whole person, MAT provides a better chance at long-term recovery. 

Behavioral therapies help patients change their behavior and thought patterns, while medications help to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. 

The FDA has also found that MAT can help reduce the risk of overdose and death, improve patient outcomes by reducing illicit drug use and criminal activity, and increase employment rates.

In addition, MAT has been shown to decrease the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases.

Medications used in MAT include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. 

  • Methadone is an opioid medication that reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings without causing the high associated with other opioids. 

  • Buprenorphine is also an opioid medication that suppresses withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

  •  Naltrexone is a non-opioid medication that blocks the effects of opioids. 

All three medications are FDA-approved for addiction treatment, and they have been proven effective when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

The CDC reports that death rates from synthetic opioids other than methadone (such as fentanyl) increased by 45% from 2016 to 2017.

The increase in deaths due to fentanyl began in 2013 and has been steadily increasing since then. In 2021, the CDC reported annual drug deaths topped 100,000.

In 2017, almost 30,000 deaths involved synthetic opioids other than methadone—a rate of 9.0 per 100,000 people. This was more than four times the rate in 2013 (2.0 per 100,000).

There are multiple varieties of buprenorphine MAT programs make use of.

FDA-approved buprenorphine products for the treatment of opioid addiction include:

  • Bunavail (buprenorphine and naloxone) buccal film is a brand of medicine that contains two key ingredients: buprenorphine, a partial opioid agonist, and naloxone, a pure opioid antagonist.

  • Cassipa is a rapid-acting, opioid treatment for adults (18 years of age and over) at high risk for moderate-to-severe pain caused by cancer.

  • Probuphine is an implant that slowly releases buprenorphine to help manage chronic opioid addiction.

  • Sublocade is an FDA-approved substance for the treatment of opioid addiction.

  • Suboxone is a sublingual film or tablet that contains buprenorphine and naloxone.

  • Subutex (Buprenorphine) sublingual tablet may relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms by inducing a milder type of withdrawal in some patients.

  • Zubsolv is a medication that contains both buprenorphine and naloxone.

Opioid Dependency Medications approved by FDA:

  • Dolophine, the medication used to treat addiction to heroin and other narcotics, can be taken as a tablet.

  • Methadose (methadone hydrochloride) Oral Concentrate

Naltrexone products approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid dependence include:

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Medically Assisted Detox for Alcohol Disorder

When medication is used to treat alcoholism, the kind of drug used depends on the person. Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are all different kinds of drugs that can be used to treat alcohol addiction. 

Medication should not be viewed as a cure for alcoholism; it aids with managing withdrawal symptoms and helps reduce the risk of relapse by helping people keep strong ties to a recovery program.

  • Acamprosate is a medicine used to prevent alcohol dependents from drinking, with the most benefit seen in newly sober people. It's not shown to be helpful in people who continue drinking alcohol, use illicit drugs, or abuse prescription drugs. Acamprosate typically begins work 5-8 days after abstinence. Side effects of acamprosate may include diarrhea, stomach upset, appetite loss, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping.

  • Disulfiram should never be taken while intoxicated and it should not be taken for at least 12 hours after drinking. Side effects such as vomiting, headache, chest pains, nausea, and difficulty breathing) can occur as soon as 10 minutes after drinking even a small amount of alcohol, and they may last anywhere from an hour to upwards of several.

  • Naltrexone blocks the pleasure and happiness felt when drinking alcohol, which can help someone struggling with alcohol dependency stop abusing the substance. A person's motivation for sobriety and the continuing use of naltrexone usually improves, which is beneficial for both their safety and health.

MAT Recovery with Counseling and Behavioral Therapies

This treatment is compulsory for MAT patients receiving treatment in Opioid Treatment Programs or OTPs according to Federal law 42.CFR 8.12. They must also receive counseling services along with their medical and vocational evaluations. These interventions include different types of behavioral therapy--services that are required on top of other assessments and treatments.

MAT occasionally doesn’t involve medications.

A sober companion is an on-demand clinician who can provide a high level of care and services around the clock, helping a person to stay healthy when they just can't leave their home.

Sober companions are also created for the specific situation. An example would be a businessperson who needs to travel to Las Vegas to attend a trade conference or meet with potential clients. 

The sober companion stays with the individual 24/7, staying out of the way, but still providing support for wherever their day takes them. 

Examples are:

  • Individuals waiting for treatment center beds to be free

  • Individuals heading to the hospital for an operation

  • Businesspersons, who are always traveling for work

  • Professional CEOs, CFOs, COOs, and other high-ranking corporate executives

  • Those professionals who have a high level of public visibility.

  • Government officials and politicians

  • Individuals that leave treatment centers and need a lot of help returning home

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How Long Does MAT Last?

The duration of a MAT program varies, depending on the type of medication administered and the needs of the individual. Often, methadone patients are advised to undergo therapy for at least one year, according to guidelines from the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Once the patient has been on it for 90 days, their dose should be gradually reduced until they are at a maintenance level. Over time, the patient may only need to reduce their dose when necessary until they can stop taking methadone completely.

Buprenorphine therapy has different timelines for each patient, usually in the range of months or years. After patients have been sober for a time, the dose may be lowered to a maintenance level, and slowly tapered off over another four to six months.

Naltrexone is a medication used to help people stay away from opioids. Most people take Naltrexone for 12 weeks, though with their doctor's approval, they can stop when the need for opioids is low. 

An advantage of taking naltrexone is that it works because it's an antagonist and blocks opioids' effects. On the other hand, one drawback of taking naltrexone is that it acts as an opioid antagonist so having any form of opioids in the system during treatment can risk overdosing.

How Effective Is Medication-Assisted Therapy?

There is a growing body of evidence that supports the use of medication-assisted treatment for substance abuse disorders. This type of treatment is particularly effective in helping people stay sober over the long term.

There are many benefits to medication-assisted treatment, but some of the most notable ones include:

  • Improved Health:

    Medication-assisted treatment can help improve your overall physical and mental health. by helping you abstain from drug use, MAT can reduce your risk of developing health problems associated with substance abuse (such as liver damage or infections). Additionally, MAT can help address underlying mental health conditions that may contribute to your addiction (such as depression or anxiety).

  • Reduced Risk of Relapse:

    One of the most significant benefits of medication-assisted treatment is that it can help reduce your risk of relapse. This is because MAT can help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making it easier to stay away from drugs. Additionally, MAT can provide you with support and accountability that can promote long-term abstinence from substances.

  • Increased Productivity:

    Medication-assisted treatment can also lead to increased productivity. 

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Are You Struggling with Addiction? The Edge Treatment Center Can Help

MAT is an important treatment option if you or your loved ones are struggling with addiction. 

Why? MAT offers a way for you to detox with a milder withdrawal process. 

It is important to remember that no two people are the same, and what works for one person may not work for another. There might be no sudden miracles in it however, medication-assisted treatment has helped many people overcome addiction and live substance-free lives. While considering MAT, it is important that you consult with your doctor or a treatment center about all the options so that the best decision can be made for your recovery.

The Edge Treatment Center is a premier addiction and mental health treatment facility. Our multidisciplinary team of experts provides evidence-based care for patients struggling with substance abuse and mental health disorders. We offer a comprehensive range of services, including detoxification, residential treatment, outpatient treatment, and aftercare planning.

We are accredited by the Joint Commission and have been providing quality care for our patients since 2002. We offer a variety of treatment programs that are individualized to meet the needs of each patient. Our goal is to help our patients develop the skills they need to lead happy, healthy, and productive lives.

The Edge Treatment Center proudly utilizes MAT as part of our treatment methods. Contact an Edge expert today to learn more.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.