Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) 101: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Did you know that opiates caused over 70% of overdose deaths, according to The World Health Organization (WHO)? Opioid addiction has reached the point where it’s considered an epidemic in the United States.

Opioids are not the only substance abuse problem in the United States either. The Center for Disease Control reports that alcohol was the cause of 39,043 deaths. This number excludes homicides and alcohol accident-related deaths.

If you have watched a loved one or have been the one who is suffering from drug and alcohol addiction, you know how difficult it is. Losing a loved one due to addiction is even more devastating. Luckily there are new innovative addiction treatments to help people recover.

Keep reading on to learn about medication assisted therapy and how it may be the answer for you and your loved one to recover from substance abuse finally.

What is Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT)?

Medication Assisted Therapy, also referred to as MAT, is a combination of prescription medications and behavioral therapies to treat substance abuse disorders.

The MAT approach helps to treat the “whole person” when it comes to addiction treatment. As a result, this approach can help many people overcome their addictions. Ultimately the goal of MAT is to achieve full recovery from all addictions.

A variety of medications can be prescribed to help someone overcome addiction to alcohol or opiates.

How Do MAT Medications Work?

Medical science has come far over the years. While we still have more to learn about addiction, science has created medications to help those who suffer from addiction. MAT medications work by blocking the euphoric effects that alcohol and opiates have on the body.

Medication assisted therapy (MAT) medications are then able to normalize brain chemistry, relieve cravings, and help normalize body functions. As a result, MAT medications help to relieve the symptoms of substance withdrawal and reduce cravings.

Medication Options

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved many MAT medications for the treatment of alcohol and opiate abuse.

In combination with counseling and psychosocial support, all of the medications used for MAT have been determined to be safe and effective in helping people recover from their addictions to alcohol and opioids.

The length of time someone may need to take these medications vary between each individual. Therefore, there is no definite length that someone may need to take one of these medications.

An individual plan must be created with a physician to determine how long MAT medications should be taken. It is important to always discuss with your doctor before starting any new medications or stop taking any MAT medications.

Medications for Alcohol Addiction

The three most commonly prescribed medications for alcohol addiction include:

  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram
  • Naltrexone

It is important to remember that these medications do not cure addiction and do not replace behavior or counseling therapies.

Medications for Opioid Addiction

The three prescribed medications for opioid addiction include:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone

These medications help in addiction treatment to heroin, morphine, codeine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone.

Advantages of MAT

Studies have found numerous benefits to using MAT. Some benefits of medication assisted therapy include:

  • Decrease risk of death from overdose
  • Increase long-term recovery
  • Decrease opiate use
  • Decrease criminal activity associated related to substance abuse
  • Increase employability
  • Increase birth outcomes among substance-abusing pregnant women
  • Decrease risk of contracting HIV or Hep C

Opiate and alcohol addiction can ruin lives, and in order to recover from substance abuse, it’s not easy. However, MAT has many benefits to help make addiction treatment a little easier.

Misconceptions About Medication Assisted Therapies

Medication assisted therapy sounds like a great solution for everyone, right? So, why are more people not using MAT to recover from their addiction? Unfortunately, there is some negative stigma still around using MAT.

One common misconception is that MAT is replacing one drug with another. However, MAT works by relieving withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings. Substance abuse causes chemical imbalances in the brain and negatively impacts the body.

Medically assisted therapies work differently. MAT provides controlled levels of medications to help achieve recovery from addiction.

Additionally, research has shown that the FDA medications for medication-assisted therapy do not adversely affect someone’s mental capabilities, physical functions, or employability. Whereas illegal or substance abuse medications and alcohol affect these areas.

In some cases, people want to avoid MAT because they fear being discriminated against for taking these medications. Especially if someone is working, they may be worried they could lose their job if their boss or coworkers find out.  Fortunately, there are state and federal laws that prohibit this type of discrimination.

Sometimes getting a physician to prescribe these medications sometimes can be difficult. This is due to a lack of training for physicians. Therefore, more education is needed to ensure that physicians are more educated on MAT medications. This is to ensure that more physicians will prescribe MAT medications when appropriate.

Addiction Treatment That Works

Treatment for addictions is not one size fits all. What may work for someone may not be the solution for you. It is important to reach out and get the help you need.

Luckily, Oakvine Recovery Center understands that everyone needs their own addiction treatment plan. They work with you so you are able to finally recover from your addictions and get back to living a fulfilling addiction-free life.

Recovery is Possible: Try Medication Assisted Therapy Today

There are a variety of addiction treatments out there and just because one therapy did not work, keep trying. It is crucial for your health and life to recover from addiction. Medication assisted therapies may be able to help you find the recovery you need.

Recovery is possible, and with the help of using medication assisted therapy, you can have long-term success. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction and needs help Contact Oakvine Recovery Center today to get more information.