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MAT: Medication-Assisted Treatment for Addiction

Addiction is a chronic disease that affects millions of people around the world. It is also a complex condition that requires comprehensive treatment. One approach that has been proven to be effective in treating addiction is medication-assisted treatment (or “MAT”). This approach combines medication with behavioral therapy and support to help people overcome their addiction—whether it’s to alcohol, opioids, or something else. MAT utilizes a variety of medications, including methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, which are all FDA-approved for the treatment of opioid use disorder. These medications work by targeting the same receptors in the brain that opioids do, but they do not produce the same euphoric effects. Instead, they reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings in patients, making it easier for people to focus on recovery and maintain sobriety. The immediate benefit of MAT is reduction of withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can be very uncomfortable and, without proper management, they can lead to relapse. The use of medication in MAT helps alleviate alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms, making it easier for people to transition into a drug-free life. Methadone, for example, is a long-acting opioid agonist that can help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that can also reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, but it has a lower risk of overdose than methadone. And, Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that blocks the effects of opioids and can reduce the risk of relapse. Another benefit of MAT is the reduction of cravings. Cravings can be one of the most difficult challenges in addiction recovery, and they can persist for years after sobriety is achieved. Medications like methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone work by blocking or reducing the intensity of cravings, which helps people maintain their sobriety and avoid relapse. A third benefit is that MAT can also improve the overall quality of life for those with substance use disorders. With the help of medication and therapy, people can manage their addiction symptoms and get back to their daily routine, whether that means returning to work, school, or other activities that they enjoy. MAT can also improve mental health outcomes, as it can help reduce anxiety and depression associated with addiction. MAT is most effective when combined with behavioral therapy and support, such as peer support and recovery groups. Behavioral therapy can help people learn coping skills and strategies for managing triggers and stressors that can lead to relapse. And peer support and recovery groups provide a sense of community, which can be critical in maintaining long-term sobriety. Dual diagnosis and mental health issues can also be addressed through MAT as we cover in another video. Whether you have addiction, another mental health disorder, or both—medication management and adherence are critical components of MAT. It is essential to take medication as prescribed to reduce the risk of relapse. Adherence to medication and harm reduction practices can support recovery and reduce the chance of overdose. It is important to work with a healthcare provider to find the right medication and dosage that works for each individual. That’s why facilities like ours use personalized medicine and evidence-based methods of MAT to give people the best chance of recovery. MAT has already been proven to be effective in treating opioid use disorder. Studies show that people who receive buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder have higher rates of treatment retention and abstinence from opioids than those who received non-medication treatment. Other studies have found that people who receive methadone treatment for opioid use disorder had lower rates of mortality than those who did not receive medication-assisted treatment. While MAT has been most commonly used for opioid use disorder, it has also been effective in treating other substance use disorders, like alcoholism. For example, medications like acamprosate and naltrexone have been useful in reducing alcohol cravings and preventing relapse in people with alcohol use disorder. One of the barriers to accessing MAT is stigma. Some people view medication-assisted treatment as just replacing one addiction with another. Really, this is a misconception. Medications used in MAT are not addictive, and they are not used to achieve a “high.” Instead, they are used to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, making it easier for people to focus on recovery and maintain sobriety. MAT is not a one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment. It’s important to work with a healthcare provider to find the right medication and dosage that works for you or your loved one. And medication may not be part of life forever. Some people may need to be on medication only for a few months, while others may need to be on medication for several years. It is also important to receive ongoing therapy and support while using medications to address the underlying issues that can also contribute to addiction. Overall, medication-assisted treatment is a proven approach to relieving addiction. It combines medication with behavioral therapy and other supports. The use of medication in MAT has major benefits: It can reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, improve quality of life for those with substance use disorders, and support a long, happy recovery free from painful symptoms and complications. MAT may make you much more comfortable in treatment. So, ask future providers about your options for MAT.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is an addiction treatment approach that combines medications with counseling and therapies to address substance use disorders (SUDs).

MAT is primarily used for treating opioid and alcohol addiction. But it may also be effective for treating other types of drug addictions.

The medications used in MAT are FDA-approved and are designed to help people with SUDs manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

While medication is an essential part of MAT, it is often combined with behavioral therapies, such as CBT and DBT, to address the root causes that may lead to addiction.

MAT aims to address every aspect of addiction, such as physical, mental, and social, by reducing the risk of relapse and overdose, improving stay rates in treatment, and improving the overall quality of life for those with SUDs.

Key Takeaways

Substance use disorder is a chronic disease that affects millions of people in the United States. Here is what this article is all about:

  • MAT refers to the combination of medication and therapies to help people overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol.
  • The most commonly used medications in MAT include methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, and acamprosate.
  • Common behavioral therapies used in conjunction with medications include CBT, DBT, MI, and CM.
  • MAT comes with many benefits, including reduction of withdrawal symptoms and cravings, improved quality of life, and many others.

If you are struggling with substance abuse, know that help is available at Indiana Center For Recovery. Contact us today at (844) 650-0064!

Medications Used in MAT for Addiction

MAT involves the use of medications for addiction treatment. MAT is highly recommended by organizations such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

The most common medications used in MAT include the following:


Methadone is used for treating addiction to heroin and other opioids. This medicine reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings, allowing those struggling with addiction to focus on their recovery.

Methadone is taken once a day and has a slow onset of action, which helps to prevent euphoria. This medicine is dispensed at specialized clinics that are licensed to provide this medication.


Buprenorphine is used for treating addiction to heroin and other opioids. This medicine reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings and has a lower risk of abuse and overdose than other opioids.

Buprenorphine is dispensed by doctors who have completed specialized training and obtained a waiver from DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration).


Naltrexone prevents relapse in individuals who have already detoxed from opioids. This medicine works by blocking the effects of opioid addiction and reducing cravings that can lead to relapse.

Naltrexone is available in a pill form and a long-acting injectable form. The injectable form is administered once a month by a treatment provider.


Acamprosate is used to treat alcohol dependence by reducing withdrawal symptoms and the desire to drink.

This medicine works by balancing the chemical levels in the brain that are disrupted by alcohol use. Acamprosate is taken as a pill and is usually prescribed for at least 12 weeks.

However, it is vital to keep in mind that the use of medications in MAT should always be accompanied by therapies to address the root causes that contribute to addiction.

Medication-assisted treatment refers to the combination of medication and therapies to help people overcome addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment for Addiction

MAT is a form of substance use disorder treatment involving using FDA-approved medication combined with therapies and support services to help people overcome addiction.

MAT can be an effective way to lessen cravings, manage withdrawal symptoms, and prevent relapse. Here are some of the benefits of MAT in addiction treatment:

Reduction of Withdrawal Symptoms

MAT can help to manage the uncomfortable and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms that can occur when someone stops using alcohol or drugs. This can make the detoxification process safer and more comfortable.

Reduction of Cravings

MAT helps to reduce the physical and mental cravings that are a standard part of addiction recovery. This can make it easier for people to resist the craving to use alcohol or drugs.

Improvement of Quality of Life

MAT can help to improve the overall quality of life for those in recovery. MAT helps people reduce their addiction's physical and mental symptoms and allows them to focus on rebuilding their lives.

Lower Risk of Overdose

MAT can help to lessen the risk of overdose by reducing the severity of drug cravings and making it easier for people to resist the cravings to use alcohol or drugs.

Higher Attendance Rate in Treatment

Studies have shown that those who receive MAT have a higher chance of staying in treatment and completing their program successfully.

Medication-Assisted Treatment and Behavioral Therapy

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and behavioral therapy are two types of treatments commonly used for treating SUDs.

MAT involves using medications to help people manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with their addiction. These medications can help people reduce their drug use and improve their overall quality of life.

On the other hand, behavioral therapy is a type of talk therapy that focuses on helping people change their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors related to substance use. Some of the most common types of behavioral therapies include CBT, MI, and CM.

Therefore, it's important to note that treatment programs for SUD should include a combination of MAT, behavioral therapy, and other support services, such as support groups.

Dual Diagnosis

MAT and behavioral therapy are evidence-based approaches to treating people with dual diagnosis, which refers to the condition where a person is experiencing both mental and substance use disorder.

Medications used in MAT can help manage withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and maintain recovery. On the other hand, behavioral therapy can help address the underlying psychological and emotional factors contributing to their addiction and improve their coping skills.

Both MAT and behavioral therapy can be effective in treating the dual diagnosis. Research has shown that combining these approaches can lead to better outcomes than using either approach alone.

Mental Health

MAT is often used in combination with behavioral therapies to treat mental health conditions. Behavioral therapies focus on changing negative behaviors, thoughts, and emotions to improve overall mental health.

The most common therapies for treating mental health include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and mindfulness-based therapy.

These therapies can help people develop coping skills, improve emotional regulation, and improve their overall quality of life.

However, it is essential for a person to work with their mental health professionals to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to the individual's needs.

Recovery Support

Recovery support refers to the services and resources that can help those dealing with SUDs get and stay sober. This can include peer support groups, therapy, housing, employment assistance, and access to medical and mental health services.

Therefore, a comprehensive approach to recovery support that includes both medication and other support services can help people with SUDs achieve and maintain long-term recovery.

Medication Management and Adherence

Medication adherence, harm reduction, and relapse prevention are all important components of substance use treatment. Here is a closer look:

Medication Adherence

Medication adherence is a crucial element of SUD treatment. Adherence to medication regimens involves taking medications as prescribed, at the correct dosage, and on the appropriate schedule.

Here are some tips for medication adherence to SUD treatment:

  • Follow your treatment plan, such as taking medications as prescribed.
  • Learn about the medications you are taking, including their side effects, interactions, and potential risks.
  • Use a medication schedule to keep track of when you need to take your medications.
  • Store your medications in a safe, secure place, away from children and pets.
  • Never share your medications with anyone, even if they are also struggling with addiction.
  • Don't stop medications abruptly.
  • If you're struggling with medication adherence, seek support from your healthcare provider or a support group.

Harm Reduction

Harm reduction is a set of strategies aimed at reducing the negative consequences of substance use, both for people and society as a whole.

Harm reduction strategies seek to reduce the harm caused by drug use, regardless of whether or not the individual continues to use drugs.

Here are some harm reduction strategies for SUD:

  • Providing access to clean needles and syringes
  • Providing access to naloxone
  • Safer drug use practices, such as using a testing kit to check the purity of drugs
  • Providing access to substance use treatment, including MAT
  • Counseling and therapy
  • Providing safe consumption sites

Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is an important part of SUD treatment. Relapse prevention strategies aim to help people identify and manage triggers and cravings, develop coping skills, and maintain their recovery.

Here are some strategies for relapse prevention in SUD:

  • Identify triggers, such as stress and negative emotions.
  • Develop coping skills, such as meditation, yoga, and reading.
  • Attend support groups, such as AA and NA.
  • Practice self-care, such as getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet.
  • Have a relapse prevention plan.
  • Avoid high-risk situations

Future Directions for MAT for Addiction

MAT has been shown to effectively reduce substance use, reduce the risk of overdose, and promote long-term recovery.

There are many potential future directions for MAT for addiction, including:

Fighting Stigma Against MAT

MAT is an evidence-based approach to treating SUDs. However, despite the proven effectiveness of MAT, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding it.

Here are some ways to fight the stigma against MAT:

  • Educate yourself and others about MAT.
  • If you have experienced success with MAT, share your story with others.
  • Be an activist for policy changes that increase access to MAT.
  • Avoid using words like "addict" or "junkie," and instead use person-first language that emphasizes that people are more than their SUD.
  • If you hear someone making stigmatizing comments about MAT, explain why such language is harmful and provide accurate information about MAT.
  • Support those who are in recovery from SUDs and who are using MAT.

MAT Advocacy and Policy Updates

Advocacy for MAT has been ongoing, with many organizations and individuals advocating for increased access to and funding for MAT programs. In recent years, there have been several policy updates related to MAT:

  • Medicaid coverage
  • Opioid Crisis Response Act (OCRA)
  • COVID-19 relief packages

These policy updates have helped to increase access to and funding for MAT programs. However, there are many future directions for advocacy and policy related to MAT for SUDs:

  • Increased access to MAT
  • Expansion of telehealth services
  • Addressing stigma
  • Equity and social justice
  • Integration with primary care
  • Harm reduction

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are examples of medication-assisted treatment?

MAT is a treatment approach that uses medications alongside behavioral therapies to treat SUDs. Some examples of commonly used medications in MAT include:
All of these medications have been demonstrated to be safe and effective for treating SUDs when used in combination with therapies and social support.

What is the purpose of medication-assisted treatment?

The purpose of MAT is to use medications, in combination with behavioral interventions and support services, to lessen or eliminate the use of drugs and alcohol and improve the chances of a successful recovery.
MAT helps people achieve and maintain a stable recovery from SUDs and to improve their overall quality of life.

What are the major components of medication-assisted treatment?

MAT is a comprehensive approach that is very effective in treating SUDs. The components of MAT typically include:
Counseling and behavioral therapies
Medical and psychiatric evaluation
Ongoing monitoring
Support services

Recovery and Healing at Indiana Center For Recovery

If you or someone dear to you is struggling with substance use disorder (SUD), know that all is not lost. Seeking help is a brave and vital step toward recovery.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can be a helpful tool for you to manage withdrawal symptoms and lessen cravings, allowing you to focus on building a solid foundation for your recovery.

At Indiana Center For Recovery, we believe you deserve compassionate care that addresses your unique needs and empowers you to take control of your life.

That's why we offer evidence-based treatment options, including detox, inpatient treatment, and therapies, to help you overcome your drug addiction.

Therefore, no matter if you are struggling with alcohol or opioid use disorder, we can help you get and stay sober.

Get in touch with us to start your journey toward a healthier, happier life. Call (844) 650-0064 now!