Treating substance use disorders is a complex process that involves several interventions and services. One such intervention is medication-assisted treatment (MAT) or medication-assisted therapy. MAT is the application of medications in conjunction with behavioral psychotherapies to effectively treat substance use disorders (SUDs).¹ If you are struggling with SUDs, MAT may be an effective part of your treatment plan.

Who Can Benefit from MAT?

MAT has been proven effective to be used in the treatment of a few SUDs, primarily opioid use disorder.¹ This includes prescription opioids, opioids such as fentanyl, and illegal opioids like heroin. Medication-assisted therapy can also be used to treat alcohol use disorder (AUD).² Medication is only part of the entirety of MAT.

If you are thinking about ending your addiction but are hesitant due to the potential for withdrawal, MAT may be beneficial for you. Medication-assisted therapy can successfully reduce cravings and effectively alleviate the experience of withdrawal symptoms.²  Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol can range in severity, and the experience can be uncomfortable. Because of MAT, you don’t have to suffer during the detoxification process, and withdrawal doesn’t have to be a deterrent to getting the help you need.

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What Medications Are Used in Medication-Assisted Therapy?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several medications for the treatment of both opioid use disorders and alcohol use disorders.

To treat OUD, the following medications have been approved:²

Buprenorphine: Buprenorphine helps to reduce opioid cravings.

Naltrexone: Naltrexone stops feelings of euphoria because of opioid use by blocking the sedative effects of opioids on the brain.

Methadone: Methadone works in many ways. It limits the effects of opioids while simultaneously decreasing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Sublocade: Sublocade was approved in 2017 to treat moderate to severe opioid use disorder, and it is a monthly buprenorphine injection; it is the first once-a-month injection approved by the FDA.³

The FDA has approved the following medications to treat AUD:

Naltrexone: Also used in the treatment of OUD; Naltrexone prevents feelings of euphoria and sedation, which can help prevent relapse and support treatment participation and engagement.

Disulfiram: Disulfiram is appropriate to use after withdrawal has occurred and you are free from alcohol; when you consume alcohol on disulfiram, you can experience nausea, vomiting, headache, and difficulty breathing. Disulfiram creates an aversion to alcohol, reducing your desire for it due to the side effects that will occur if you consume it.

Acamprosate: Like disulfiram, acamprosate should be taken after detox has been completed and you are sober and want to maintain your sobriety.² Acamprosate does not impact your withdrawal symptoms; however, it does reduce your cravings for alcohol.³

Behavioral Therapies in MAT

Federal law requires that individuals enrolled in an opioid treatment program (OTP) who are receiving Medication-assisted therapy in Phoenix, AZ are obligated to attend counseling.² Additional services may be included in your treatment plan, along with MAT, including legal and housing assistance, and employment services.²

Therapy can be conducted in individual and group settings. Common behavioral therapy treatments used in MAT include:⁴

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Community reinforcement approach
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Contingency management

Benefits of MAT

MAT has several benefits. Research has shown that MAT:⁵

  • Reduces opioid-related overdose deaths
  • Lessens opioid use
  • Decreases the spread of infectious disease
  • Reduces illegal activity
  • Improves treatment engagement and retention
  • Strengthens social and interpersonal performance
  • Improves the health outcomes of babies among pregnant women

What MAT Is Not

Medication-assisted therapy is not replacing one substance for another; it is a comprehensive, evidence-based approach that includes behavior therapy to address the underlying causes of addiction.² MAT is tailored to you and your unique needs and may be part of your treatment plan. The medications and interventions used in MAT are specific to you. Together, you and a medical professional will develop a plan that addresses your unique substance use history and medical, social, and psychological needs.

MAT and Substance Abuse Treatment

Camelback Recovery understands that addiction to opioids and alcohol can have a devastating impact on your life. That’s why we provide evidence-based treatment options and work directly with you to create a comprehensive treatment plan specific to your needs and recovery goals. If you are looking for opioid or alcohol rehab in Arizona, or have questions about recovery, contact Camelback Recovery at 602-466-9880. You can also reach out online, and an intake specialist will contact you. You are not alone, and recovery is possible.

Sources:

    1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2022). Medication-assisted treatment.
    2. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2022). MAT medications, counseling, and related conditions.
    3. National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2021). Acamprosate.
    4. Knudsen, H., Moran, G., & Snyder, C. (2019). Psychosocial supports in medication-assisted treatment: Recent evidence and current practice.
    5. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Effective treatments for opioid addiction.