Medication Assisted Treatment program (MAT) is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, which is effective in the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD) and can help some people to sustain recovery. Whether you need medication-assisted treatment for Alcohol or Opioid Addiction, the goals of these programs are the same: to discourage the use of a substance and provide patients with the tools they need to build a solid foundation for Recovery.
There is one key difference to understand. The objective of MAT for Alcohol Addiction is to help people avoid relapse once they have already undergone detoxification. MAT for Opioid Addiction, on the other hand, can prevent people from going into withdrawal after they stop illicit use of a drug.
Medications provide enough stimulation of opioid receptors for the brain to continue functioning on a normal level, allowing patients to get on with their lives and participate fully in the therapy and counseling elements of treatment. Opioid Addiction medications may be part of detoxification, but if a patient opts for methadone or buprenorphine maintenance, longer treatment times link with better outcomes. The recommended time frame for methadone treatment is at least one year.
Types of Substance Addictions MAT Treats
MAT treats opioid/opiate use disorder and alcohol use disorder. MAT for stimulant use disorder is still in development. Many people are familiar with some of the earliest emanations of MAT, which is for treating tobacco use disorder. This includes nicotine replacement patches, gum, and lozenges, as well as some prescription medications like Varenicline (Chantix) and Bupropion (Wellbutrin).
MAT Medications for Opioid Addiction
A Medication assisted treatment program gives patients one of three medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration. MAT does not cure opiate dependence but assists the patient in maintaining abstinence. The most commonly used MATs prescribed are methadone and buprenorphine/naloxone. These are medications that are technically classified as opioids, but when administered in a controlled environment are opiate replacement therapy (ORT).
When used properly, they do not trigger euphoria. Whereas, methadone is the most widespread and commonly used medication for Opioid Addiction Treatment. It’s effective in managing cravings. In short, it binds to the same receptors in the brain as drugs like heroin or prescription painkillers. However, its action is less intense because when taken as prescribed by someone with opioid addiction, it does not cause euphoria or other symptoms of a high. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. It binds only partially to opioid receptors and has a “ceiling effect” that makes it difficult to abuse.
It also comes in formulations that include naloxone, which will create immediate withdrawal symptoms if someone tries to dissolve and inject the medication. Lastly, Naltrexone is the least common and most expensive medication used in Opioid Addiction MAT. It prevents the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids, so if a person relapses, they won’t feel any of the effects they were looking for.
MAT Medications for Alcohol Addiction
MAT for alcohol use disorder includes the medications Disulfiram known as Antabuse and acamprosate known as Campral. May also include the use of Naltrexone. Just as MAT for opioid addiction does, these medications do not cure alcohol use disorder. Instead, they work by controlling cravings for alcohol. The unpleasant symptoms act as a deterrent that discourages people from drinking.
Acamprosate works by controlling cravings for alcohol, making it easier to abstain, and can also help alleviate some of the longer-lasting symptoms of withdrawal, such as anxiety or insomnia. Acamprosate doesn’t cause the same adverse reactions as disulfiram, so it will not interfere if someone decides to continue drinking. This, combined with therapy, produces longer-lasting recovery.
MAR VS MAT
According to an expert named William L White. MAT is the use of medication to reverse cravings, facilitate detoxification, Neutralize or create an aversion to particular substances, Treat symptoms of a co-occurring disorder, and Suppress withdrawal symptoms. However, MAR is a term that refers to the use of medications to initiate and maintain Recovery. In other words, MAT is the professional intervention element, while MAR covers the experience and activities of patients who are using medication to support their recoveries.
It helps to think of a Medication assisted treatment program as the process that makes the result of MAR possible. Some studies on medication-assisted Recovery are invaluable to enhancing knowledge of post-treatment support services, the focus has shifted toward MAT. Because MAT is the first, required step before a patient can enter medication-assisted Recovery, understanding and improving MAT methods is essential.
Most people are aware of withdrawal, which comprises all the painful symptoms that come with cutting off the brain’s supply of alcohol or drugs. Typical symptoms of withdrawal from drugs or alcohol include:
- Shaking or tremors
- Aches and pains
- Sleepiness or exhaustion
- Confusion and agitation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Abdominal cramping and diarrhea
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is the second wave of symptoms that appear as the brain is attempting to heal itself. The PAWS period can last for weeks to months after detoxification, saddling patients with symptoms that make Recovery harder. Its characteristics include:
- Depression or anxiety
- Mood swings
- Disturbed sleep patterns
- Appetite changes
- Impaired cognition
Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment
MAT is a program for many people combating Opioid or Alcohol Addiction. These are the benefits of MAT as a form of treatment.
- MAT Works. Addiction does not have a single metric by which you can judge the success of a treatment program, but outcomes for MAT are among the best.
- MAT Is Affordable. MAT will help you get the best value for your money and some people think they can’t get any treatment at all due to expense. However, MAT is highly accessible in terms of cost.
- MAT Allows Greater Freedom. There doesn’t have to be a separation between residential treatment and MAT. MAT can also be beneficial in the period immediately following a residential stay, when you may experience the lingering symptoms of Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS).
- MAT Can Be Part of a Greater Framework. Clinical settings typically offer MAT as a standalone program. These tools can be enough to help someone enter and sustain Recovery, but MAT has much more substantial potential.
- MAT Can Bridge the Gap – One of the challenges in completing treatment is transitioning back into your regular life at home.
Medications Used in MAT
There are many different medications used in a medication assisted treatment program. These include:
Naltrexone- it’s an opioid antagonist, which means it blocks the effects of opioid drugs. It is also used to block the effects of alcohol.
Acamprosate – it prevents those who have given up alcohol from relapsing.
Antipsychotics – It is treated as a person’s disconnect from reality. They tend to be most effective when treating psychosis rooted in mental illness, as opposed to psychosis caused by substance use.
Anticonvulsant – a medication that isn’t FDA-approved for treating alcohol use disorder, but is prescribed off-label and has shown promising results. These include topiramate and gabapentin.
Beta-Blockers – a medication primarily used to prevent heart attacks, angina, and migraines.
Clonidine – is an anti-hypertensive that works by blocking chemicals in the brain that trigger sympathetic nervous system activity. It is also used in combination with Librium, Valium, or Xanax to treat alcohol use disorder.
Naloxone – is used to treat someone who has overdosed on heroin and some types of painkillers.
Methadone – It is a full opioid agonist, which means it completely activates the opioid receptors in the brain. It is the only drug approved for pregnant or breastfeeding women using MAT.
Buprenorphine – is a partial opioid agonist, which means it produces lower intensity effects than heroin or methadone.
Disulfiram – is used to deter the consumption of alcohol by disrupting the body’s usual way of metabolizing alcohol.
MAT is primarily used to treat opioid addiction but is also effective for treating alcohol use disorder. It works by administering controlled prescription medication to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, ease physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative effects of the abused drug.
Treatment programs are clinically tailored to meet each patient’s needs. This program is to discourage the use of a substance and provide patients with the tools they need to build a solid foundation for Recovery. MAT for Alcohol Addiction helps people avoid relapse once they have already undergone detoxification. MAT for Opioid Addiction, on the other hand, can prevent people from going into withdrawal after they stop illicit use of a drug. Medications provide enough stimulation of opioid receptors for the brain to continue functioning on a normal level, allowing patients to get on with their lives and participate fully in the therapy and counseling elements of treatment.
Opioid Addiction medications may be part of detoxification, but if patient options for methadone or buprenorphine maintenance, longer treatment times link with better outcomes. The recommended time frame for methadone treatment is at least one year.
At We Level Up Treatment Center, we provide world-class care with round-the-clock medical professionals available to help you cope. We all work as an integrated team providing Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for successful recovery. Make this your opportunity to reclaim your life. Call today to speak with one of our treatment specialists. Our specialists know what you are going through and will answer any of your questions.
Your call is private and confidential and there is never any obligation.
 William L. White “Recovery-Oriented Methadone Maintenance”http://www.williamwhitepapers.com/pr/2010RecoveryOrientedMethadoneMaintenance_Paper.pdf