Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Medications for Substance Use Disorder Treatment
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, often in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Research shows that a combination of medication and therapy can successfully treat these disorders. For that reason, MAT has become the most recommended treatment, and many people struggling with the disease of addiction say that MAT has helped them sustain their recovery. You can receive MAT in both an inpatient or an outpatient setting.
The prescribed medication operates to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions. These medications are approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and people may safely take them for months, years, or even a lifetime. As always, plans to stop a medication must always be discussed with a doctor or other prescriber.
Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are used to treat an opioid use disorder and addiction to opioids such as heroin, morphine, fentanyl and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone. Individuals may recognize buprenorphine by the brand names, Suboxone© or Subutex© and naltrexone by the brand name Vivitrol©.
Disulfiram (Antabuse©), acamprosate (Campral©) and naltrexone are the most common medications used to treat an alcohol use disorder. None of these medications provide a total cure for a disorder, but are proven to be most effective in people who participate in a substance use disorder treatment program.
Another medication to consider is nicotine-replacement therapy, or NRT. More and more individuals who manage substance use disorders want to add this treatment, so they can also quit smoking. The healthcare field is making a lot of progress in NRT, and many people say that they appreciate it when doctors or nurses help them get NRT as a part of their overall recovery.
Finally, many people managing the disease of addiction also learn, when they start treatment, that they also have a “co-occurring” mental health disorder, such as serious depression or anxiety disorder. Most individuals say that they have had far more success when they also were prescribed medications that treat specific mental illnesses. These medications are sometimes also considered “assisted” treatments.
To learn more about medications for substance use disorders, visit the website for the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.