Medication Assisted Treatment - Addiction Answers

Did you know that approximately 15 million people in the United States have alcohol use disorder? This is a widespread problem that often leads to requiring treatment. While there are different treatments available, one option is a MAT program.

Also known as Medication Assisted Treatment.

Suffering from alcohol use disorder is challenging. After all, it seems like alcohol is everywhere. The convenience of obtaining alcohol and the societal pressures can be difficult to deal with.

Medically assisted treatment uses medication, counseling and therapy. It provides an approach that focuses on the individual’s needs. Research shows that mat treatment is effective for treating alcohol use disorder.

It also works well for people recovering from other substance abuse. If you’re curious to know more about medication assisted treatment and how it works, keep on reading.

What Is Medication Assisted Treatment?

MAT is a method of drug and alcohol rehabilitation that uses medicine and behavioral therapy. This combination helps lead to healthy outcomes for anyone with substance abuse problems. The treatment focuses on your needs and goals.

Part of MAT’s success is counseling. This can either be in groups or on your own. You’ll be able to go through the journey of discovering and addressing where their addiction comes from. You’ll also know how to resist the discomfort and cravings.

When someone is dependent on alcohol, or opioids and they quit, they experience withdrawal. Everything from sweating and vomiting to anxiety can be a symptom of this and it is highly unpleasant.

MAT helps the brain heal by reducing cravings and the symptoms of withdrawal. This approach focuses on your healing so you can enjoy life activities and relationships without alcohol getting in the way.

One misconception about MAT is that you are replacing one addictive drug with the other, but this is not the case. The difference here is that when you are in a treatment program, a doctor with your best interests in mind administers the medicine.

This type of personalization makes MAT effective. Medical professionals create a plan that combines medication with therapy, both specific to your needs.

History of MAT

Addiction treatment in the 1970s was a work in progress, few guidelines directed the type of care that was necessary. This resulted in a less-than-ideal atmosphere that did not have a therapeutic dose range or good therapeutic practices. Much of the history of MAT has led to the stigma surrounding it today.

Before 2016, few physicians could prescribe medications in medication assisted treatment. That all changed when the CARA (Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act) passed. This allowed nurse practitioners and assistants to be prescribers.

Then in 2018, the SUPPORT Act passed, and this expanded the ability of qualifying practitioners to treat more patients with MAT. It also defined what the proper practice setting for MAT is. Now, MAT is one of the most well-known and widely used treatment options for alcohol use and opioid use disorders.

Medication Used in MAT Program

If you’re looking at medication assisted treatment, you might wonder exactly what medications MAT uses. Knowing this information is important because you’ll want to see what you might put in your body. This, along with knowing the different options for therapy, is vital to further understanding the program.

One of the first steps in a rehabilitation program is drug detoxification. Once that’s done, you’ll be able to enter the first part of the recovery process.

Drug detoxification is when withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur. It is one of the most challenging parts of rehabilitation. Even after drug detox, the cravings do not go away. That’s why medication and therapy have to come in, to ensure there is no succumbing to those psychological cravings.

Three of the most common medication used in MAT for alcohol use disorder are disulfiram, naltrexone, and acamprosate.


Once you complete the drug detoxification process, you’ll enter the early stages of recovery. This is where you might be prescribed with Disulfiram. This is one of the most effective medications used to treat alcohol use disorder. It serves as a deterrent by creating unpleasant side effects if you consume even a tiny amount of alcohol.

These side effects include vomiting, chest pains, nausea, and difficulty breathing.

You’ll feel the effects quickly and they can last for an hour or more. While it is an effective medication, some places avoid it because the side effects are so unpleasant.


The next medication commonly used is Naltrexone. This works by blocking the pleasurable effects of alcohol intoxication. That way, you’ll be able to disassociate alcohol as an enjoyable pastime.

The way this works as treatment is by detaching yourself from the actual euphoria that comes from intoxication. That way, the cravings aren’t there to get those pleasurable feelings. Instead, it becomes a mundane drink.

Naltrexone is administered by tablet and injections. It is most effective when combined with behavioral therapy.


Another medication commonly used is Acamprosate. This is another drug that should be combined with comprehensive therapy to be the most effective. Acamprosate works similarly to the other medication by rewiring your brain to reduce alcoholism.

It blocks certain neurotransmitter receptors and activates others which restores biochemical stability. This helps reduce cravings and other withdrawal symptoms.

Knowing More About MAT Treatment

While fighting alcoholism can be a scary and confusing process, you don’t have to go through it alone. There are so many treatment options available that you’re sure to find one that works best for you. One of those options is medication assisted treatment.

A good MAT program will help you combat addiction using medication and therapy. The medication and treatment are approved by the FDA and proven to be effective. Consider MAT treatment if you’re seeking help for substance abuse.

If you are interested in more answers about substance abuse and treatment, be sure to contact us!

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