If you have been researching drug addiction treatment options, you have likely come across an approach known as “medication-assisted treatment” or “MAT.” But what is MAT, exactly, and how does it differ from traditional addiction treatment? Below, we explain what MAT is, what sets it apart from other approaches to addiction treatment, and what benefits it offers. We also discuss which medications have been approved to treat opioid use disorder.
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
As its name suggests, MAT is an approach to addiction treatment that involves the use of medication. Many traditional addiction treatment programs—for example, 12-step programs—advocate for complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol, requiring that participants quit “cold turkey.” With MAT, however, patients take certain medications as prescribed to help with their recovery. Medical providers gradually wean the patients off the substances to which they are addicted until they are no longer dependent on them. Like many other addiction treatment programs, MAT also involves the use of counseling and behavioral therapy.
What Are the Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment?
As was noted above, many traditional addiction treatment programs require participants to completely detox, which can lead to withdrawal symptoms. For example, someone who is dependent on opioids—such as codeine, fentanyl, heroin, hydrocodone (Vicodin®), morphine, and oxycodone (OxyContin®)—may experience:
- Muscle aches
MAT helps to relieve these symptoms, and it has also been shown to reduce patients’ risk of relapsing and overdosing. In fact, the American Society of Addiction Medicine has reported that individuals who receive medication as part of their opioid addiction treatment are 75% less likely to die because of addiction as compared to those who do not receive medication.
What Medications Are Used for Opioid Treatment?
MAT can be used to treat various substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the following three medications for use in opioid treatment programs:
- Buprenorphine – This medication reduces cravings and helps control other withdrawal symptoms. Buprenorphine can be injected by a clinician or taken daily at home.
- Methadone – Like buprenorphine, methadone helps relieve cravings and the other symptoms of withdrawal. This medication needs to be taken on a daily basis, and some patients have to take it twice a day.
- Naltrexone – Unlike buprenorphine and methadone, naltrexone is an opioid blocker, which means that it prevents opioids from having any effect on a person’s body. This medication can be injected by a clinician or taken daily at home.
Medication-Assisted Treatment Available Near You
If you think that you or a loved one could benefit from MAT, turn to Jovive Health. We are a 100% doctor-owned and -led practice with clinics in Cameron Park, CA; Chicago, IL; and Henderson, NV. Our experienced team treats opioid use disorder in patients over the age of 18 using buprenorphine/naloxone, and we can also coordinate referrals to support services. Visit us today to find out whether you are eligible for our opioid treatment program—we offer same-day reservations and also accept walk-in patients.