The Benefits of Medically Assisted Treatment in Addiction

 In Treatment

There are many methods of treating addiction, and one of the most popular is the Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT).  Some doctors will combine MAT with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for a more lasting treatment option. The doctor will give an addict an opiate which will help stave off the withdrawal symptoms.

The opiate will also break the psychological aspect of highness that addicts seek from drug use. Doctors can also give opioid antagonists that will help in the case of a relapse.  Both options activate the receptors; the same ones that harmful drugs target for that feeling of highness.

Some people feel that substituting one opiate for another may not be an effective way of treating addiction. Doctors disagree because the drugs they use are not harmful, and do not have a devastating impact on an individual’s life.

Proponents of MAT feel that with medication and therapy, they will help the addict achieve long-term recovery.

 How Does MAT Work

MAT tries to understand substances that create cravings like alcohol or opiates.   The substances affect the brain, and sudden withdrawal can cause serious side effects.

MAT primarily works with alcohol, stimulants, and opiates. It works by reducing the adverse effects of withdrawal. The drugs bind the opiate receptors resulting in an elimination of cravings if an addict tries to use harmful drugs, the opiate receptors can’t bind with the compound, thus preventing the feeling of highness.

MAT will therefore not work like other drugs which make a person ill when they take herbal medicines while on medication. The treatment is also useful for pregnant women who are getting treatment for addiction and leads to positive birth outcomes.  The society will also benefit by not having to deal with the effects of addiction, including violence and death.

What Are the Common Drugs Used In MAT


The most common medication is Naltrexone, that is in injection or pill form.  It works well for alcoholics and will help relieve cravings and withdrawal symptoms.   It will block opiate use of any kind, and the retention rate is very high.  There are also fewer stigmas surrounding its use.

The disadvantage is that induction is difficult, and it is hard to find providers trained in its use.  Some insurance companies will not cover it, and getting authorization can be a challenge. It will not give the patient pain relief, and you will need to stop its use if you are to go in for surgery.

Naltrexone also lowers general tolerance, and some patients may end up going back to harmful opioid use.


Methadone treats those who are addicted to opioids. The cost of medication is lower, and the retention rates are high. The drugh is also very successful among pregnant women. It will require daily dosage in the initial stages.  It is also risky because drug dealers target it quite a bit.

Some people report side effects like cardiac arrhythmia.  There is also a lot of stigma surrounding its use.


Buprenorphine carries minimal risk of overdose, and the dosing is quite flexible.  It is suitable for pain management and has less stigma than methadone.  The reverse side to it is that induction will initially require mild-to-moderate withdrawal.

Buprenorphine has high street value, and patients can abuse it. Only DEA waivered clinicians can prescribe it.

MAT and Drug Addiction Treatment

A lot of research that shows that addicts recover better when on MAT than when they are not on it. Its success is because it decreases the risk of relapse, and prevents overdosing.  Research shows that it is useful in the prevention of infectious diseases like HIV.

Doctors, however, still have to come up with concrete evidence surrounding certain aspects of MAT.  One such area that requires Clarification is what to use to pick the right dose and drug for the individual. There doesn’t seem to be any research findings which shows the relative benefit of one drug over the other.

It is easier to stop methadone use than it is for Buprenorphine.  It is therefore essential that anyone who may need surgery takes the former, in case there is a need to halt its use.

Doctors also find that they can only base the decision on which drug to use after talking to the patient.

 Can MAT Be Used Without Psychotherapy

It is possible to use MAT without psychotherapy, especially in the case of Buprenorphine and methadone. However, the research that confirms this does not discount the importance of psychotherapy.

They do give due credit to the benefits of a combination of drugs and therapy in ensuring that the patient stays off drugs.

Final Thoughts

MAT and psychotherapy is an excellent tool for overcoming addiction.  Stick to the doctor’s prescription, and you’re likely to see very positive results. Contact us today at launch centers to talk to an addiction professional.

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