According to SAMHSA, medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is the use of medications along with counseling and behavioral therapy to treat addiction. All medications that are used during MAT are FDA-approved, and programs should always be tailored to meet patients’ individual needs.
The combination of medications and therapy can be very effective in treating withdrawal symptoms. It is often considered to be the best way to help people recover from drugs and alcohol safely. Many drug rehab programs use it along with more natural holistic forms of therapy.
Is MAT Effective in Treating Addiction?
In 2018, it is estimated that about 2 million people suffered from opioid use disorder. These individuals have a history of abusing heroin and/or prescription painkillers. MAT has shown to be very effective at treating this addiction. It offers a form of treatment that is comprehensive and tailored, which is exactly what people in recovery need.
Ultimately, the goal of MAT is to help people reach full recovery and live life that is self-directed. Some of the benefits of MAT include:
- Reducing the risk of relapsing and overdosing.
- Keeping people in treatment.
- Decreasing criminal activity.
- Increasing the individual’s ability to get and keep a job.
- Lowering the risk of birth defects and complications among pregnant women with substance abuse disorders.
- Lowering the risk of contracting diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C.
MAT Medications and the Addictions They Treat
There are various types of medications used during medication-assisted treatment. They can differ based on the type of addiction a person has.
MAT for Opioid Addiction
People with opioid use disorder may be placed on one of several medications that has been FDA approved to treat this condition. They work well to treat addictions to all kinds of opioids and opiates, including:
These medications are safe for people to use for weeks, months or even if years if they need them. There are some people who remain on them for a lifetime, but that is not something we recommend. They can become addictive themselves, so it is best to use them as needed and then taper off as soon as it is possible to do so.
The common medications that are prescribed to treat opioid use disorder include:
- Naltrexone – This medication works by blocking the euphoric effects from opioids. People may attempt to use, but they will not get high.
- Methadone – This medication can help by reducing the severity of opioid cravings. When people decide to use, the drug blocks the effects.
- Buprenorphine – This medication works by suppressing and reducing cravings for opioid drugs.
MAT for Opioid Overdose Prevention
Naloxone is a medication that has been FDA approved for the purpose of reversing the effects of an opioid overdose. The World Health Organization has stated that it is a medication that is considered to be essential to a functioning health care system.
Naloxone comes in a few different forms. It is available as an injectable medication, which is what healthcare professionals typically use. It can also be purchased as an autoinjectable drug called Evzio. This is a pre-filled device that anyone can use by injecting the medication into the outer thigh. Finally, NARCAN is a pre-filled device that is sprayed into a nostril while the overdose victim lies on their back.
Naloxone is responsible for saving the lives of thousands of people who would have otherwise died from a drug overdose.
MAT for Alcohol Use Disorder
People who have alcohol use disorder can also receive MAT. The right medications can help with withdrawal symptoms as well as help them avoid possible complications from delirium tremens, a more severe form of alcohol withdrawal.
The most common medications prescribed for alcohol use disorder include:
These medications can help tremendously, and they work best when they are combined with a behavioral therapy program. There are additional medications that may be prescribed to treat specific symptoms as well. Doctors will often use drugs off-label for this purpose.
Behavioral Therapy During MAT
Medications are not enough to treat addiction, even though they can help with withdrawal. It is important for people to receive therapy at the same time because people need to learn more about themselves and their addictions.
Behavioral therapy can help people change their thoughts and behaviors. It can give them a better understanding of their emotions and alter the way they once viewed situations in their lives. It is important for people to receive a proper diagnosis so that the right type of behavioral therapy can be used to help them.
Best of all, while people are going through MAT and receiving therapy, they will learn new coping skills. It can be so easy to fall into old habits and start using again just to manage one’s problems. But behavioral therapy shows them how to explore new options and it teaches them healthier coping skills.
Medication-Assisted Treatment: A Great Option for Addiction Recovery
Getting addicted to opioids, alcohol and other types of drugs can be so difficult. People can live in denial for years because deep down, they do not believe there is a way for them to recover. But medication-assisted treatment can make a big difference, and in some cases in can mean the difference between a relapse and recovery.
At SpringBoard Recovery, we highly recommend MAT for the clients we work with. We have seen firsthand how it has helped them to be more successful in their treatment. When it is done correctly, and when it includes behavioral therapy, it can be a valuable asset to any addiction treatment plan.
We hope this page has been informative for you as you seek to learn more about your options for addiction recovery. Do you have any questions that we did not answer here? We are available to help in any way we can. Please contact us today.