What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
A dangerous disease has swept over the country. It affects all communities and has sadly taken countless American lives. It has only increased in severity in the past year. This brutal epidemic is the widespread abuse of opioids.
Fortunately, clinical research has led to the development of several effective treatment options for those with an addiction to opioids. One treatment method that has increased in usage in recent years, because of its enhanced success rate, is Medication-Assisted Treatment.
What is MAT?
Medication-Assisted Treatment, or as it is more commonly known, MAT, is the use of medication prescribed and overseen by a physician or waivered prescriber for the treatment of substance use disorders, namely opioid and alcohol use disorders. Opioids are a classification of drugs that includes prescription pain medications and heroin.
The MAT programs with the highest rates of success use a holistic, or whole-person approach, that combines prescription medication with behavioral therapies. The goal of MAT is to help the patient reduce cravings for substances, relieve withdrawal symptoms, and create a foundational period when they can develop effective coping strategies.
MAT Medication Types
There are currently several medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of substance use disorders. Each medication has the same purpose but is prescribed based on the presentation, needs, and abilities of the individual.
Opioid Dependency MAT Medications
- Commonly known by the brand names Suboxone® and Sublocade®, buprenorphine is classified as a partial agonist, which only partially activates opioid receptors. This helps to prevent cravings for opioids.
- Buprenorphine combined with Naloxone (i.e. Suboxone) is designed to reduce the risk of misuse of the medication.
- Naltrexone is a non-addictive medication that blocks the feelings of euphoria that come with opioid misuse. They are antagonists meaning they block opioid receptors and decrease cravings. Common brand names for naltrexone include Vivitrol ®, ReVia ®, and Depade ®.
- The oldest form of FDA-approved MAT medication, methadone, can be used to treat opioid use disorder. It is a full agonist, meaning it fully activates opioid receptors.
Alcohol-Use Disorder Medications
- For those in recovery that have abstained from alcohol, acamprosate has been shown to reduce the urge to drink. It does not help with symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. A common brand name for acamprosate is Campral®.
- Commonly known by the brand name Antabuse®, disulfiram creates an unpleasant reaction to alcohol consumption, helping to lower the urge to drink. Like acamprosate, disulfiram does not help with withdrawal symptoms.
Benefits of MAT
MAT has proven to be an effective treatment option and its incorporation into rehab programs that treat opioid and alcohol use disorders have fueled its continued expansion in popularity and utilization
One key benefit of the medications is the reduction of cravings for illicit drugs. Reduced cravings, along with the utilization of healthy coping skills, can lead to many other positive benefits, such as reducing criminal activity, suicide rates, and lethal overdoses.
Another benefit is the “whole-patient” approach to care. MAT programs use the combination of prescription medications and counseling to improve the overall health, including promoting the patient’s physical, emotional, spiritual, and social wellbeing, all keys in the journey towards sobriety.
Medication-Assisted Treatment can be cost-effective and convenient for those that choose to include it in their opioid or alcohol rehabilitation program. MAT is relatively affordable and is also often covered by insurance providers. Visits and sessions are generally conducted in an outpatient clinic setting or via telehealth appointments.
Is MAT for you?
While treatment plans vary by individual, the first step toward recovery is to start with a consultation. Our Medication-Assisted Treatment programs begin with an outpatient clinic or telehealth visit with a medical professional that specializes in MAT care for opioid and alcohol addiction. Bradford’s Recovery Advisors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help you schedule an appointment. Call 1-833-33-MY-MAT (1-833-336-9628) to learn more about our Medication-Assisted Treatment programs.