What is medication-assisted treatment?

Many people have heard of medication-assisted treatment (MAT) but do not understand what it entails. MAT is a type of treatment that combines behavioural therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders. It can help individuals struggling with addiction become sober and maintain sobriety long-term. This article will provide an overview of the MAT process so that those considering this form of treatment can understand the basics.

pills and drugs through on a red table

How Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Work?

Medication-assisted treatment is a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to managing addiction. It combines the use of FDA-approved medications with psychosocial support such as counselling and support groups in order to treat individuals with substance use disorder. The goal is to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms while also helping individuals develop healthier coping skills and behaviours to prevent relapse.

 

The most commonly used medications in MAT are methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.

Methadone

Methadone is a synthetic opioid that has been used since the 1960s to treat opioid addiction. It works by activating receptors in the brain, blocking other opioids from binding to them, and preventing withdrawal symptoms or cravings. This makes it easier for people to break their dependence on opioids by reducing their need for them. However, due to its long half-life (it can stay in the body for up to five days), it requires frequent monitoring by medical professionals, which may make it difficult for some people to access it.

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine is another opioid medication used to treat opioid addiction. It is similar to methadone in that it can block other opioids from binding to receptors in the brain, but unlike methadone it has a much shorter half-life (up to 24 hours), meaning that it does not require as much frequent medical supervision. Buprenorphine also has fewer side effects than methadone, making it an attractive option for many patients.

Naltrexone

The third MAT is naltrexone, which is a non-opioid drug that works by blocking the effects of other opioids on the brain’s receptors. This means that if someone were to consume an opioid while taking naltrexone they would not feel any of its effects—which helps prevent relapse into active opioid use disorder behaviour. Naltrexone also does not require as much frequent medical oversight as methadone or buprenorphine, which makes it attractive for many patients who may find these other medications difficult or impossible to access due to cost or location restrictions.

Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment

The benefits of medication-assisted treatment are numerous. First, it can help reduce cravings for substances like opioids or alcohol which can make it easier for individuals to remain abstinent from these substances during their recovery journey. Additionally, MAT can help improve the success rate for those seeking long-term sobriety since it provides them with an effective tool for managing cravings and withdrawal symptoms while also providing them with access to counselling services that address underlying issues related to addiction.

 

Finally, MAT has been found to be more cost-effective than traditional treatments such as detoxification or inpatient rehabilitation since it requires fewer visits to medical professionals or counsellors over time as well as fewer hospital stays due to complications associated with substance abuse.

Medication-assisted treatment is an effective way to manage addiction by combining medications with psychosocial support such as counselling or 12 Step pogroms like Alcoholics Anonymous® or Narcotics Anonymous® meetings. It helps reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms while also providing individuals with access to resources that will help them develop healthier coping skills and behaviours so they can remain abstinent from substances in the long run.

With its proven track record, MAT offers a viable option for those looking for a successful recovery from substance use disorder without having to incur high costs associated with other forms of treatment such as inpatient rehabilitation programmes or detoxification centres. If you’re considering medication-assisted treatment for yourself or someone you know, speak with your doctor about your options today!

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