What Is Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

What Is Medication Assisted Treatment?


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    There is a huge need for treating substance use and addiction in the United States. Due to the various addictions, there is a wide variety of treatment options offered. Treatment must be individually based because everyone is affected differently. Most treatment programs can create an individualized treatment plan to fit the need of the client. Implementation of treatment such as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) increases the chance of successful recovery rates. 

    MAT is a form of treatment combined with counseling and behavioral therapy. There are some cases where medication must be included in a treatment plan. MAT is primarily used for the treatment of substance use disorders, including prescription drugs. This type of treatment is implemented as a part of one’s individualized treatment plan. 

    MAT has been shown to be effective when it is combined with individual therapy and behavioral health. Using this method of treatment has had success and helped people gain back a quality of life. Treatment can produce a decrease in substance use and increase one’s ability to maintain daily tasks and rejoin the work field. MAT is a therapeutic intervention that can help with cravings and decrease discomfort during detox. 

    5 Facts About MAT

    Let’s look at five facts about MAT. What areas can MAT help with, and can it help us overcome our addiction? Being educated about MAT can give us hope that there is another treatment available to us. 

    1. MAT reduces opioid cravings and helps with withdrawals. 
    2. MAT brings balance to the brain and helps it heal. 
    3. MAT increases the chances of survival. 
    4. MAT increases social function. 
    5. MAT does NOT substitute one addiction for the other. 

    MAT gained an effective reputation by using medications that are FDA-approved. The medication is used as a deterrent to using opioids, alcohol, and other substances. 

    In addition to counseling or behavior health therapies, MAT can be an effective add-on to any services one is already receiving. Patients can have better outcomes when using MAT treatment. In fact, those using MAT treatment can experience a healthier life overall. 

    Types of Medications Used in MAT

    Specifically for alcohol addiction, the medications used are:

    • Acamprosate is a medication used in the recovery process for alcohol abuse. This medication is normally given to those who do not drink anymore and want to avoid drinking. 
    • Disulfiram is a medication that treats chronic alcoholism. It is most effective on individuals who have already gone through detox or are beginning the abstinence journey. 
    • Naltrexone is a medication meant to block euphoric effects and feelings of intoxication. This particular medication also allows people with alcohol disorders to reduce their use, stay motivated to stay in treatment and avoid relapse. 

    Specifically for opioid use, the medications used are: 

    • Buprenorphine is a medication used to suppress and reduce cravings for opioids. 
    • Methadone is used to reduce opioid cravings and blocks the effects of opioids. 
    • Naltrexone is used to block the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids and prevent feelings of euphoria. 

    The history of MAT originated from the use of methadone in patients suffering from opioid use. Rather than focusing on methadone as a single-treatment drug, other medications were implemented, changing the term from methadone to medication. 

    Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment

    For people who are facing opioid or alcohol abuse, it can have a thieving outcome. Addiction can steal your life away before you know it. Some people can get counseling and be a part of group counseling as well, and still struggle. MAT helps people get the extra motivation they need to claim their life back. When this type of treatment is combined with therapies, it can have a larger positive impact on recovery. 

    Some benefits of MAT are:

    • Increases ability to gain and stay employed
    • Increases patient survival
    • Improves birth outcomes in women who had drug use during pregnancy
    • Reduces the risk of overdose

    The desired benefit of the use of MAT is when cravings and withdrawal symptoms stop; there can be a focus now on long-term goals in life. Success rates of this treatment method have shown that 90% of people who use MAT have a better chance of maintaining sobriety within two years. Opioid and alcohol abuse can impact health negatively

    Other benefits include having a better quality of life and better relationships with others. For some people, counseling may be effective, but some people may need more extensive treatment. MAT is a treatment that has been effective.  

    Steps of MAT

    First, there is the intake. During intake, personal information is gathered for record keeping. Having discussions with medical personnel about the counseling route that would fit best is beneficial as everyone has a different need. There will be patient education on the medication treatment portion and treatment planning. 

    Phases of MAT will differentiate according to the patient’s needs. Once the individual plan is created, the introduction can begin. Introduction can take up to two days. Then there is the process of stabilization. This can take up to several weeks. Finally, the maintenance portion. This part can take as long as the individual needs. Similar to being in recovery, maintenance is the long-term part of the care that will be available as needed. 

    At Villa Oasis San Diego, we understand that when deciding to begin MAT along with other therapies, it is important to have knowledge of what it entails and how it works. We are here to help educate you and your family about the MAT process and help find an individualized approach to care that will meet your needs. Additionally, your physician should provide you with the vital information you need before beginning, but it is important to know what to expect. If you or a loved one is currently struggling with a severe addiction, then the time to reach out for help is now. To learn more, contact us today and call (619) 373-9792.

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