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How Medication-Assisted Treatment Helps in Drug Detox

Medication-assisted treatment has been around in the form most people recognize since the 60’s. Methadone, synthesized in the 40’s as a morphine alternative, was used to treat heroin addicts. Since then MAT has evolved to treat alcohol, opioid, and tobacco dependence. With rising success rates due to medication-assisted treatment, more detox programs have begun utilizing it in their treatment plans when appropriate. In this blog we’ll explore what MAT is and how it’s being used in drug detox programs. 


What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?


MAT is the use of prescribed medications alongside therapy to provide a comprehensive person-centric approach to substance abuse treatment. In essence it is the combination of psychiatry and psychology to treat drug addiction. Currently the FDA has approved medications for the treatment of alcohol use disorder, opioid use disorder, and tobacco/nicotine dependence. During a medication-assisted treatment program, an individual will work with a prescribing doctor as well as a licensed therapist. 


The Role of MAT in Detox


Medication-Assisted Treatment plays a pivotal role in easing the withdrawal process, making it more manageable for individuals seeking recovery. Here's how MAT contributes to the overall success of drug detox and continued sobriety post-treatment. 

Reducing Withdrawal Symptoms:

MAT utilizes FDA-approved and doctor prescribed medications to alleviate the physical and psychological symptoms of withdrawal. The use of these medications are supervised during the duration of their use. These medications are carefully selected based on the substance of abuse and work to lessen the distress and discomfort caused by detox. Withdrawal symptoms are often a major barrier to people seeking treatment. Knowing that their symptoms will be medicinally managed has given many the courage to enter treatment when they would have otherwise been resistant. 

Minimizing Cravings:

The cravings for the substance of abuse that manifest during detox is a significant obstacle for many to overcome. Medications such as buprenorphine, naltrexone, and acamprosate work to reduce those cravings. This allows the individual to focus on their recovery instead of being bombarded with the constant urge to leave treatment and go use. Minimizing cravings helps to reduce relapse rates and leaving treatment early.   

Stabilizing Brain Chemistry:

Constant drug and alcohol abuse wreaks havoc on brain chemistry. This can lead to neurotransmitter imbalances and impaired functioning. MAT medications help to stabilize these imbalances and restore healthy functioning. This leads to better cognitive functioning which leads to better decision making and emotional regulation. 

Increasing Treatment Retention:

Studies show that MAT improves treatment retention rates. The physical and psychological aspects of detox have led many to leave treatment before completion. By removing these difficulties, individuals are more likely to stay engaged in the treatment process. It is proven that the longer someone stays in treatment, the higher their likelihood of long-term sobriety.


As medication-assisted treatment has evolved, it is proving itself to be a valuable tool in the fight against drug addiction. When integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan, MAT can significantly improve the chances of overcoming addiction and building a life of lasting recovery. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, call Holland Pathways and ask about our medication-assisted detox options. Sobriety doesn’t have to be painful. Call today.