Skip to content

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Medication-assisted treatment is not a new approach to substance abuse but it has grown in popularity over the last 10 years. It combines behavioral therapies and counseling with pharmacotherapy to address addiction and substance use disorders. MAT use has seen a rise in the last decade due to the surging number of opioid related overdoses and deaths. It can be an effective tool in treating substance abuse and preventing relapse. In this blog we’ll dive into MAT for a better understanding of what it is, how it works, and if it’s right for you. 


What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?


An evidence-based approach to treating substance abuse, MAT has been found to be especially effective in managing opioid and alcohol addiction. It utilizes FDA-approved and doctor prescribed medications alongside therapy to address the physical and psychological components of addiction. Therapy, in conjunction with the medications, reduces cravings, alleviates withdrawal symptoms, prevents relapse, and cultivates healthy habits for long-term recovery. 


How Does MAT Work?


Opioid Use Disorder

In the treatment of opioid addiction, medications such as methadone, Suboxone, and naltrexone are used alongside therapy. Methadone and Suboxone are opioid agonists that attach themselves to the same receptor sites in the brain that addictive opioids use. By doing this, they block the effects of traditional opioids while relieving withdrawal symptoms and curbing cravings. Naltrexone works by blocking the euphoric effects of opioids, rendering them useless. Methadone and Suboxone are commonly used in the initial phases of treatment while Naltrexone is used after treatment to prevent relapse and help with cravings. 

Alcohol Use Disorder 

The three primary FDA-approved medications used in the treatment of alcoholism are disulfiram, acamprosate, and naltrexone. Disulfiram, sold under the name Antabuse, is used as a deterrent medication. It works by blocking the body's ability to process alcohol creating unpleasant effects when alcohol is consumed. Acamprosate helps to re-balance the brain chemicals that long-term alcohol use disrupts. Naltrexone works with alcohol in a similar fashion to how it does with opioids. It blocks the pleasurable effects of alcohol. 


Is Medication-Assisted Treatment Right For You?


Whether or not MAT is the right choice for you or a loved one depends on a number of variables. Naltrexone has become a common recommendation for individuals who have struggled with opioid or alcohol use disorder; especially those who have completed treatment. It works well to prevent relapse and allows for those newly sober to get established in recovery without having to deal with cravings. Methadone, suboxone, disulfiram, and acamprosate are typically used when other forms of treatment haven’t been successful or the individual has a high rate of relapse. It’s important to consult with a medical professional who can evaluate your substance abuse and medical history before starting on any form of MAT. 


Medication-assisted treatment, under the right circumstances, can provide relief to those who have struggled long and hard with substance abuse. If you think MAT could be beneficial to you, call Holland Pathways for a free evaluation. Our experienced staff can help you figure out if MAT would be the right decision for you and help you find another path if not. Call today.