kathy ireland® Recovery Centers

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Decades of clinical data show that medication-assisted treatment is the gold standard clinical approach to a safe, sane withdrawal from substances of misuse and an effective treatment modality for people in recovery from opioid use disorder (OUD) and alcohol use disorder (AUD).

The risk of relapse and overdose increases during the initial stages of recovery from substance use disorder (SUD) when withdrawal symptoms are at their peak. In some cases, the symptoms of withdrawal are extremely uncomfortable physically, psychologically, and emotionally. In other, rare cases – like withdrawal from chronic alcohol use – withdrawal can be deadly.

MAT mitigates the symptoms of withdrawal, reduces cravings, and helps prepare you to engage in treatment. When you first stop using substances, you may not be ready to participate fully in treatment and recovery-related activities. The symptoms of withdrawal dominate your experience. Medication regulates brain chemistry and helps reduce circulating stress hormones in your body during this period. As time passes and your body, mind, and emotions move toward a new normal, it’s like waking up from a long sleep: you’re present, alive, and ready to engage in individual therapy, group therapy, and implement the lifestyle changes that lead to lifelong, sustainable recovery and sobriety.

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) offer the following definition of MAT:

“MAT is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a ‘whole-patient’ approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Medications used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and MAT programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each patient’s needs.”

It’s important to understand that MAT is about more than medication.

In the context of evidence-based treatment for substance use disorder, MAT is one part of a holistic approach to treatment. MAT goes beyond treating physical symptoms. An integrated MAT program addresses all the psychological, emotional, and social factors that play a role in addiction and/or the disordered use of substances.

The medications we use in MAT are buprenorphine, and naltrexone.

The supervised use of these medications can:

  • Normalize chemical balance in your brain and body
  • Block the action of opioids on your nervous system
  • Prevent opioids from activating the pleasure and reward centers in your brain
  • Reduce physiological cravings for opioids and alcohol
  • Restore balance to physiological systems

When used as directed, in combination with individual therapy, group therapy, lifestyle changes, and community support programs like Narcotics Anonymous (NA), evidence shows that for people with opioid use disorder and alcohol use, MAT programs:

  • Reduce opioid use/relapse
  • Reduce alcohol use/relapse
  • Reduce risk of fatal overdose
  • Reduce criminal activity related to drug-seeking
  • Decrease spread of disease
  • Improve ability to function in social, family, and school situations
  • Improve treatment adherence, i.e. time in treatment
  • Improve ability to seek and secure employment

In other words, MAT can make treatment and recovery a reality when approaches that don’t include medication make treatment and recovery close to impossible. If you’ve tried to stop using opioids or alcohol without success, MAT can help you through the withdrawal period, help you manage any recurring cravings, and give you a solid foundation in recovery. Most importantly, though, MAT can give you hope for the future and confidence that long-term, sustainable sobriety is possible.

When Do We Use MAT?

We use MAT when it would be dangerous or physically uncomfortable for you to go without medication to manage your symptoms. Each case is unique, and we learn about yours during our comprehensive pre-screen, intake, admissions, and assessment process.

We gather all the information that can have an impact on your health, and use that information to determine what treatment modalities best meet your individual needs and treatment goals. During your initial assessment, we collect the following information:

  • Full alcohol/substance use history
  • Alcohol/substance use disorder treatment history
  • Full medical history
  • Family medical history
  • Current physical and/or medical needs and/or conditions
  • Current medication
  • Your treatment goals
  • Any relevant personal, family, cultural, or social factors that may affect your treatment experience
MAT for SUDs
Medication-Assisted Treatment
If MAT is indicated as an evidence-based intervention for your diagnosis and individual treatment needs, then we offer medication as one option among many.

The circumstances when an FDA approved medication may be part of your treatment program include, but are not limited to:

  • Detoxification and withdrawal from alcohol
  • Detoxification and withdrawal from illicit opioids and most common substances of misuse, such as:
    • Cocaine
    • Methamphetamine
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Prescription opioids
  • Long-term treatment for opioid use disorder (MAT for OUD)

If indicated, the following FDA-approved medications may be included in your treatment plan:

  • Suboxone (buprenorphine)
  • Antabuse (disulfiram)
  • Sublocade (buprenorphine extended release)
It’s important to understand that the “M” in MAT is always part of a larger treatment picture.

If medication is a component of your short-term or long-term treatment plan, it works together with individual, group, and family therapy and counseling, lifestyle changes, and peer support to create a multimodal support system that promotes sustainable sobriety and leads to one goal: your overall health and wellbeing.

joy after recovery from addiction

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can decrease stress and discomfort associated with withdrawal, lower the risk of relapse, and improve treatment outcomes.

The team at kathy ireland® Recovery Centers is here to offer compassionate support and evidence-based treatment. When you’re ready for change, we’re ready for you.