Clinically Reviewed by Sarah Hogan, MA LPC
Sarah is a Licensed Professional Counselor with 13 years of experience in the behavioral health field as well as a certified provider of Cognitive Processing Therapy for Trauma. She has extensive experience in counseling and case management with local mental health authorities, emergency homeless shelters, leading high acuity response teams, and serving first responders/veterans.
When it comes to medication-assisted treatment (or “MAT”) as a tool used in addiction treatment, there are many questions and misunderstandings.
Let’s debunk some myths about MAT with help from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Journal of Addiction Medicine (JAMA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Here’s what they have to say about this treatment tool.
What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?
SAMHSA defines MAT as the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies for addiction treatment. Research shows that when applied by an experienced licensed treatment professional, medication-assisted treatment can help some people sustain lasting recovery.
Addiction is a chronic disease with long-lasting effects. Research from NIDA shows that medication-assisted treatment has been highly effective in thwarting addiction to alcohol and other drugs – specifically heroin and other opioids. Medication-assisted treatment has been shown to be especially successful in preventing an opiate overdose, which can lead to death.
To help more people find lasting recovery, the FDA states, “…more must be done to facilitate treatment options. This means helping more people secure medication-assisted treatment, which requires us to break the stigma often associated with medications. It also requires us to find more effective ways to advance the use of medical therapy for the treatment of opiate use disorder.”
What Drugs Are Used in a MAT Programs?
There are three drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid dependence. Those are buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. All three of these medications have been demonstrated to be effective in combination with counseling and psychosocial support. To treat alcohol addiction, the most prescribed medications are acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone. According to SAMHSA, “although these drugs do not provide a cure for alcohol use disorder, they are most effective in people who participate in a medication-assisted treatment program.”
Is MAT Effective?
Many studies show that medication-assisted treatment is clinically effective. When used in a therapeutic treatment setting, it can significantly reduce the need for inpatient detox. MAT provides a comprehensive program that is tailored to address the needs of each patient.
MAT Goals and Outcomes
The ultimate goal of medication-assisted treatment is full recovery from addiction, which includes 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
Seeking Addiction Treatment for You or Loved One? Reach Out.
At Plum Creek Recovery Ranch, we offer medication-assisted treatment for clients who are qualified for this treatment option. Those who take part in our MAT program work closely with our medical director and director of clinical services. If you or a loved one needs help in overcoming an addiction to any drug or alcohol, Plum Creek Recovery Ranch is here to help.
Contact us to speak with one of our caring Admissions Counselors for an absolutely free and anonymous chemical dependency assessment.