Medication Assisted Treatment

What is Medication Assisted Treatment?

SAMHSA describes that Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Medications used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and MAT programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each patient’s needs.

MAT is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers that contain opiates. The prescribed medication operates to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative and euphoric effects of the substance used.

What is the Effectiveness?

SAMHSA also describes that MAT has proved to be clinically effective and to significantly reduce the need for inpatient detoxification services for these individuals. MAT provides a more comprehensive, individually tailored program of medication and behavioral therapy that address the needs of most patients.

The ultimate goal of MAT is full recovery, including the ability to live a self-directed life. This treatment approach has been shown to:

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment
  • Improve birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant
Medication Assisted Treatment Washington DC

What Medications has the FDA Approved?

Medication-Assisted Treatment medications function to relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that create chemical imbalances in the body. There are medications for Alcohol Use Disorder, Opioid Dependency, and Opioid Overdose Prevention.

  • Acamprosate disulfiram and naltrexone are the most common medications used to treat alcohol use disorder. They do not provide a cure for the disorder but are most effective in people who participate in a MAT program.
  • Buprenorphine methadone and naltrexone are used to treat opioid use disorders to short-acting opioids such as heroin morphine and codeine as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone.
  • Naloxone is used to prevent opioid overdose by reversing the toxic effects of the overdose.

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