What is MAT And How Does It Work?

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Addiction is a complex disease that affects both the brain and the body. And MAT is an essential tool in the treatment of addiction, helping address the physical aspects of addiction, improving outcomes and reducing the risk of relapse. 

What Is MAT?

MAT stands for medication-assisted treatment and combines the use of medication with behavioral therapy. These FDA-approved medications help stabilize brain chemistry to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. MAT is one of the most well-known treatments for substance use disorders, often used to treat alcohol, tobacco, and opioid addictions. Overall, it’s part of a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to an individual’s needs and goals. 

The Medication Portion Of MAT

Several medications are commonly used in medication-assisted treatment. These medications are safe and effective in treating addiction by targeting the brain’s reward center. The three most common medications used in MAT are:

  1. Buprenorphine (Suboxone)- This partial opioid agonist is used to deal with opioid addiction. It performs by hooking to similar opioid receptors in the brain as opioids but with less intensity.
  2. Methadone – This is a synthetic opioid used to treat opioid addiction by intercepting its influence by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  3. Naltrexone – This medication is used to deal with opioid dependence and alcohol addiction, blocking their effects on the brain.
Buprenorphine (Suboxone)- This partial opioid agonist is used to deal with opioid addiction.

MAT Vs. Detoxification

MAT is often confused with detoxification. Both are different treatment methods.


  • It’s a long-term treatment.
  • It focuses on helping individuals overcome addiction.
  • It includes the use of medication to manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  • It includes behavioral therapy and counseling to address the underlying causes of addiction.


  • It’s a short-term treatment.
  • It focuses on helping individuals safely withdraw from drugs or alcohol.
  • It does not incorporate medication to treat addiction.
  • It involves the use of medication to manage withdrawal symptoms.

How Does MAT Work?

Substance abuse affects the brain’s reward center. It causes individuals to crave drugs and experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to quit. Here’s MAT comes in. MAT medications target the same receptors in the brain as drugs of abuse.

MAT medications target the same receptors in the brain as drugs of abuse.

How Medications Assist In Recovery

Medications used in MAT help individuals focus on their recovery by reducing cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and the risk of relapse or overdose.

Duration Of MAT Treatment

It is important to note that medication alone is not enough to achieve long-term recovery. MAT should be used in conjunction with behavioral therapy and counseling. It helps to address the underlying causes of addiction and develop the strategies needed to maintain recovery. So, the duration of MAT treatment can vary depending on the individual’s needs and goals. MAT can be a short-term treatment to help individuals safely withdraw from addiction. It can also be used as a long-term treatment to help individuals achieve long-term sobriety.

Advantages Of MAT Programs

MAT can be used to treat various drug or substance use disorders. These include opioid, alcohol, and stimulant use disorder. MAT medications are safe and effective in treating these disorders and reducing the risk of overdose. There are several advantages of MAT, including the following:

  • Reduced risk of overdose – MAT has been shown to reduce the risk of overdose in individuals with opioid addiction.
  • Reduced risk of relapse – MAT makes it easier for addicts to stay on track to their recovery journey because the medication helps reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Improved mental health – MAT helps to improve mental health outcomes by reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Improved outcomes – MAT has been shown to improve outcomes in addiction treatment. The possible results can be:
    • Long-term recovery.
    • Reduced drug use.
    • Improved quality of life.
    • Increased retention in treatment.

Disadvantages Of MAT

Like all medications, MAT medications can have potential side effects. Common side effects of methadone and buprenorphine include nausea, constipation, and drowsiness. Naltrexone can cause vomiting, nausea, and stomach pain. These side effects subside over time as the individual’s body adjusts to the medication. 

Note: The benefits of MAT typically outweigh the potential side effects, but individuals should discuss any side effects with their healthcare providers. 

Eligibility Criteria For MAT

MAT is a treatment option for individuals struggling with substance use disorders. It’s important to note that MAT is not a one-size-fits-all solution. MAT eligibility criteria varies depending on the medication used and the individual’s medical history. Before starting MAT, individuals undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation to determine if they are a good fit for the treatment. The success rate of MAT can vary depending on the individual’s needs and goals and the quality of care they receive. But, when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, MAT can be an effective tool in helping individuals achieve and maintain recovery from substance use disorders.

MAT is a treatment option for individuals struggling with substance use disorders.

Integrating MAT Into Treatment Programs

MAT is often used in conjunction with other evidence-based treatment modalities. It addresses the underlying causes of addiction and supports long-term recovery, introduced during the detoxification phase of treatment, and can continue throughout the recovery process.

Overcoming Stigma Associated With MAT

Some stigma can be associated with MAT (particularly in specific communities and certain populations). Overcoming this stigma needs a multi-faceted approach, including education, community outreach, and advocacy efforts. By raising awareness about the effectiveness of MAT, we can reduce stigma and ensure all individuals have access to the care and support they need to achieve long-term recovery.

Do you want to know how life feels like after addiction rehabilitation?


How long should MAT be used?

The duration of MAT depends on individual needs and treatment goals.

Can individuals still participate in counseling and therapy while on MAT?

Yes, individuals on MAT can and should participate in behavioral health counseling and therapy.

Is it safe to drive heavy machinery while on MAT?

It is necessary to consult with a healthcare provider about safe activities.

Will MAT show up on drug tests?

MAT medications may appear on drug tests but are not flagged as illegal substances.

MAT At Launch Centers In Los Angeles, California

Ready to take control of your life? The initial move towards leading a more meaningful life is deciding to turn your life around with the assistance of a reliable treatment program. At Launch Centers in Los Angeles, California, we are committed to providing the care and support needed to help individuals achieve their recovery goals. Our team of experienced healthcare professionals understand the challenges faced by individuals struggling with addiction and offer personalized treatment plans tailored to meet your needs.

Some of our services include, evidence-based therapies, counseling services, medication-assisted treatment, and more. Our holistic approach to addiction treatment centers on healing the mind, body, and spirit. We are dedicated to delivering you with the tools and resources needed to overcome addiction and build a fulfilling life in sobriety. Get the help you need.

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