What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

For anyone suffering from alcohol or opioid problems, medication-assisted treatment can make all the difference for effective recovery.

This treatment helps you break away from damaging substance use.

It also helps you remain free from substance problems and stabilize your everyday routine.

Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, combines the use of medication with therapy or counseling.

All the treatments used in medication-assisted care are evidence-based.

These evidence-based treatments have gone through extensive scientific study and are known to help large numbers of affected people.

That is vastly different from unproven treatments that lack scientific backing.

The most well-known use of MAT is for the treatment of opioid use disorder or OUD.

This condition includes opioid addiction, as well as serious opioid abuse.

Medication combined with counseling or therapy can also help people with alcohol use disorder, or AUD.

This condition includes both alcoholism and alcohol abuse.

MAT used for opioid problems is often like those used for alcohol problems.

However, they are not identical.

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What are the Goals of MAT?

Medication-assisted addiction care has several main goals.

Perhaps the most important goal is treating you as a unique individual, not as an “addict.” This is possible to achieve because, together, medication and therapy aid all aspects of your recovery.

That includes your personal well-being, not just your specific addiction symptoms.

During active treatment, MAT helps you make real progress toward a full recovery.

It does so by doing multiple things, including:

  • Making it easier to stay opioid- or alcohol-free
  • Clarifying reasons you started abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Helping you cope with the symptoms of withdrawal
  • Encouraging you to commit to your own care fully
  • Reducing the intensity of your opioid or alcohol cravings
  • Showing you how to cope with high-stress situations

Once you complete active treatment, MAT will also help you keep your substance-free lifestyle going long-term.

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Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Problems

There are two prescription opioids approved for use in OUD treatment.

The first is methadone, and the second is buprenorphine. Both of these medications work in roughly the same way. When you take either of them, they make it easier for you to go through withdrawal. This is true because they provide your system with enough opioids to ease your withdrawal symptoms.

At the same time, they will not get you “high” when used as prescribed. The use of both methadone and buprenorphine is temporary.

Once you complete withdrawal, you may also receive the medication naltrexone. Naltrexone is not an opioid. In fact, it stops opioids from reaching your brain. By doing so, the medication helps you maintain drug abstinence.

There are several therapy and counseling options proven to help you recover from OUD. The list of these possibilities includes:

  • Family behavior therapy
  • Contingency management
  • Community reinforcement
  • 12-step facilitation therapy

Well-designed addiction treatment will probably include at least two of these options.

Effectiveness for People With OUD

Is medication-assisted care for opioid problems effective? In a variety of ways, the answer to this question is yes. Specific ways in which MAT is useful include:

  • Making you more likely to stay in your treatment program
  • Improving your ability to function after you complete treatment
  • Reducing the chances that you will continue to abuse opioids
  • Decreasing the odds that you will die from an opioid overdose
  • Helping you find work and stay employed
  • Limiting your exposure to hepatitis C and the HIV/AIDS virus

Medication Assisted Treatment Emerald Isle - A silhouette of a man drinking a glass of whiskey. The alcohol rehab center at Emerald Isle can help him with his alcoholism with medication assisted treatment among others.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol Problems

There are three approved medications for MAT-based alcohol treatment:

  • Acamprosate
  • Naltrexone
  • Disulfiram

Typically, you will start taking these medications after you complete alcohol detox. Each option helps you in its own specific way. Acamprosate, for example, helps you stay sober by improving your basic brain function.

When you take naltrexone, the medication helps you control your alcohol cravings. Once it is in your system, disulfiram produces unpleasant symptoms if you consume alcohol. In this way, the medication helps make drinking an unappealing option.

Many of the counseling and therapy options used to treat AUD are the same as those used to treat OUD. That includes:

  • 12-step facilitation therapy
  • Family behavior therapy
  • Contingency management

However, there are other available options not used to help people with opioid problems. Treatments in this second category include:

  • Motivational enhancement therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT

As with OUD treatment, MAT-based alcohol treatment often involves more than one kind of therapy.

Effectiveness for People With AUD

Both medications and counseling/therapy are effective for people with AUD. However, they do not necessarily need to be used together.

A treatment plan that only includes medication may provide all the help required for your recovery.

The same holds true for a plan that only includes counseling or therapy.

Medication Assisted Treatment Emerald Isle - A man with mental health issues talks about the medication assisted treatment he is enrolled in and how it is helping him.

Addiction, Mental Illness and Medication-Assisted Treatment

People in medication-assisted care often suffer from additional mental health problems. Such problems include major depression, schizophrenic illnesses, and anxiety disorders.

They also include PTSD, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.

If you suffer from additional mental illness, your MAT-based care plan should include additional treatment. This is essential if you hope to recover your overall sense of well-being.

The kinds of treatment added to your plan will depend on the details of your illness. Necessary options may include both medication and therapy.

Settings for Medication-Assisted Care

Where can you find MAT-based addiction treatment? This kind of care is offered in a range of different programs.

Many people receive it while enrolled in inpatient rehab.

Others receive it while enrolled in some form of outpatient treatment.

Your doctor will help you decide what level of care you need while receiving medication and therapy.

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Learn More About Medication-Assisted Treatment

If you are struggling with opioid problems, you desperately need effective help. Otherwise, you may never regain your sobriety. The same is true for anyone struggling with alcohol problems.

For people in opioid recovery, the modern standard of treatment is MAT-based care. You may also receive this kind of care during alcohol recovery.

Medication-assisted plans rely on evidence-based addiction treatments. They include the use of one or more medications. They also include some form of counseling or therapy.

The medications and therapies used in your plan will help you achieve many key recovery goals.

That includes keeping your substance cravings in check. It also includes committing fully to treatment and long-term sobriety.

The effects of MAT are especially important in opioid treatment. Why? When used together, medication and therapy provide unique benefits.

Such benefits impact your whole life, not just the specific symptoms of your addiction. Medication-assisted care is not as central to alcohol treatment. This is true because you can achieve recovery when using only medications or therapy. Still, your AUD treatment plan may include both options.

Medication-assisted care will be adapted to your needs. Factors that may have an impact include the effects of a separate mental illness.

Medication-Assisted Treatment at Emerald Isle

The techniques used to help you depend on the severity of your addiction. Both inpatient and outpatient programs are available.

To learn more about medication-assisted care, just contact Emerald Isle today.

We offer detailed guidance on the best options for your treatment. In addition, we offer a comprehensive range of MAT-based programs.