ClickCease What's the Best Medication Assisted Treatment for Substance Abuse?

Best Medication-Assisted Treatment: Options & Explanations

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Abruptly halting the use of addictive substances like opioids can pose a serious risk to an addict’s health. In fact, the risks to one’s health are often so substantial that many addiction recovery specialists recommend that people undergo professional substance abuse treatment rather than trying to go “cold turkey” or wean themselves off drugs or alcohol themselves.

For some people, the best course of action instead involves using a combination of therapeutic medication and therapy to guide them toward recovery. When you are ready to get help for your own substance abuse, you may find an option like medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, the most appealing. You may work toward recovery, regain sobriety, and learn to live life without using drugs like opioids by researching and choosing one of the best medication-assisted treatment options available to you today.

Understanding Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT as it is commonly referred to, utilizes a combination of therapeutic medications and individual and group therapy to guide people who are addicted to substances like opioids toward recovery. It addresses not only the present challenge of weaning people off these substances but also focuses on prolonged and sustained rehabilitation.

MAT involves the use of three FDA-approved medications: buprenorphine, methadone, acamprosate, and naltrexone. The FDA has deemed these three MAT medications for recovery safe enough to use for most people and effective in helping wean people off addictive drugs like heroin or Oxycontin.

Choosing the right MAT medication, however, will largely depend on a client’s specific addiction. It can also greatly hinge on the person’s overall health and ability to tolerate the medicines used in MAT.

Still, one of the primary bases for using these medications in MAT revolves around reducing addicts’ cravings and withdrawal symptoms. If they try to stop using abruptly on their own, people who are addicted may find these symptoms to be more than they can bear. With MAT, they experience less severe symptoms and may find the process of detoxing more tolerable.

Further, MAT aims to prevent relapses. People who try to stop using on their own have a greater chance of relapsing and going back to their drug habits. When they undergo medication-assisted treatment for addiction, however, they have a better chance of achieving recovery.

Finally, MAT focuses on prolonged recovery and positive outcomes. People who are sincere about their intentions to stop using altogether while maintaining their sobriety may achieve their goals when they opt for this form of addiction care.

MAT effectiveness and benefits from this type of program make it an appealing choice for many people who struggle with drug addiction. Finding the best MAT program is key to starting the process of utilizing this form of therapy and achieving the best outcomes.

An Overview of MAT Medications MAT pills in woman's hands

The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, approves several medications for use in MAT programs in the U.S. These medications scientifically demonstrate promise in achieving the best MAT success rates for people who receive them while in professional addiction recovery programs.


One of the primary medications used in MAT is naltrexone. This medication is classified as an opioid antagonist. It effectively blocks opioids from attaching to receptors in the brain. In turn, it reduces a person’s substance cravings and eases withdrawal symptoms.


Another common medication used in MAT is buprenorphine. This medicine is a partial antagonist and lasts up to 72 hours. It, like naltrexone, works by blocking opioids from receptors and reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Methadone is arguably the well-known MAT medication in use today. It has been used in the substance abuse recovery industry for 40 years. It binds to receptors in the brain while avoiding the euphoric highs associated with heroin and other opioids. It also eases withdrawal symptoms and makes weaning off opioids less distressing. It is most commonly available in liquid or wafer form.


Finally, acamprosate is used for the treatment of alcohol addiction. It restores the brain’s natural chemical balance and eliminates the desire to drink alcohol. It is an oral medication that is taken in pill form.

All of these MAT therapy options for addiction must be utilized under the guidance of state-licensed healthcare providers. They are only available by prescription and cannot be purchased over-the-counter at pharmacies or retail stores. The specific medication someone will receive while undergoing MAT will largely depend on what kind of addiction that person has and his or her overall health.

Factors to Consider When Choosing MAT

You should weigh a number of MAT considerations and factors before deciding in what program to take part as you work toward addiction recovery. You want to ensure the program you choose ultimately will serve you the best and take into full consideration all of the aspects involved in helping you overcome your opioid dependency.

For example, you need to find a MAT program that can treat your specific type of addiction. It would do no service to you to enroll in a program that does not address your particular addiction and offers no medication therapy to help you cope with withdrawal symptoms and avoid relapsing.

Further, you need to choose an MAT option that can address the severity of your addiction. If you have been addicted to opioids for years, you may fare better in a program that offers the medicinal support you need to tolerate withdrawing from the substance to which you are addicted. You also may need to choose one that can offer long-term support to help you avoid relapsing back into drug use.

Your medical history and treatment goals are additional factors to take into consideration when considering what MAT program to utilize. You may feel more comfortable in one that offers on-site medical care so you can get prompt treatment for any medical conditions, such as hepatitis or heart palpitations, that you suffer from because of your drug use. You likewise may want to enroll in a MAT program that can align with your specific goals, such as staying in contact with your family or helping you address specific triggers that prompted you to use.

Finally, your personal preferences should play a role in finding the best MAT program. You may feel at ease in one that offers group therapy sessions, for example, or gives you the opportunity to take part in individual counseling. You should consider your preferences before selecting an MAT program to enroll in.

Effectiveness and Benefits of MAT

Studies continue to show that MAT is one of the more effective treatment options for people who are addicted to substances like opioids. In fact, many of them highlight the high retention rates among clients who enroll in MAT programs. These programs succeed in keeping people enrolled and finishing the prescribed treatment.

Further, studies show that MAT reduces risky behaviors in people who complete their treatment programs. These behaviors can include injecting opioids like heroin. It can also involve relapsing back into illicit drug use. Generally, people who finish MAT care go on to maintain their recovery with more success.

Finally, MAT offers long-term support that many clients prefer when they undergo addiction recovery treatment. They want to gain the skills needed to resist triggers that once compelled them to use. They also want to integrate back into everyday life without worrying about the risk of going back to their former drug use habits.

MAT provides people with the extended support they need to maintain their recovery successfully. People who go through this type of program generally have higher rates of maintaining abstinence for longer periods.
MAT Considerations and Success Rates

While studies support the benefits of medication-assisted treatment and point out the statistically high MAT success rates, evidence also suggests that stigmas attached to it may dissuade some people from utilizing it. One of the main stigmas involves a traditional preference and advocacy in the industry for abstinence-based treatments.

Many people, arguably even some addiction recovery providers themselves, still believe that abstaining entirely from substances like opioids at the onset of care provides the best path toward sobriety. They dismiss the notion of using medications to ease withdrawals and make working toward recovery less emotionally and physically distressing.

Further, another misconception stems from the belief that people are not really in recovery if they have to utilize some sort of medication to help them stop using opioids. They believe that recovery comes from the total absence of any kind of medicinal therapy, including those designed to help people wean off opioids.

These misconceptions and stigmas can compel people who would benefit from MAT from even considering this treatment option. However, they may be more compelled to consider MAT over abstinence-based programs when they learn of the high success rates associated with medication-assisted treatment.

In fact, studies show that people who grow through some sort of MAT program have, on average, a 60% chance of achieving sobriety. Further, these same studies show that six out of 10 people reach the one-year mark without relapsing. Around 90% of them avoid relapsing at the two-year mark after finishing MAT.

Even more, many people report accessing long-term support for an average of 15 months after finishing their MAT program. They give credit to program resources like individual and behavioral therapy and social support for helping them maintain their success.

Finding the Best MAT Program

When you want to find and utilize the best MAT program, you may have a few ideas of where to start looking for one. You may find it helpful to use resources that you already have access to and feel comfortable using to locate an MAT program that is right for you.

One of the most readily available resources can be your healthcare provider. Your primary care physician, for example, typically can refer you to an MAT program that addresses your specific addiction and recovery goals. He or she can also provide you with the quickest and most reliable option when you want to start your recovery right away.

Of course, you can also do your own research and look online for MAT programs that are close to where you live. You can learn what recovery programs in your area offer medication-assisted treatment and have the resources to address your specific addiction.

You can also find programs that offer elements that you prefer. For example, you may prefer to utilize an MAT option that offers an inpatient program. You likewise may prefer to enroll in one that offers extended outpatient care services. Both of these options may give you the peace of mind that you stand the best chance of achieving recovery and maintaining the results of your program after you leave it.

Finally, it can be vital for you to choose an MAT program that offers credentials like state licensing and accreditation. You may want the peace of mind of knowing that you are getting the best care in return for your investment in the program itself. These credentials also demonstrate that the providers offer a safe, effective, and reliable treatment to help you overcome your addiction.

Medication-assisted treatment can provide you with a solid opportunity to address your substance addiction. The resources in this type of treatment focus on minimizing your emotional and physical discomfort while you detox and providing you with long-lasting results.

You can find a MAT program by utilizing resources like your primary care doctor for a referral to one. You can also reach out to Granite Recovery Centers to learn more about medication-assisted treatment today.