What Is MAT & How Does It Work?

What Is MAT & How Does It Work?

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Have you ever heard of Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)? While there is a stigma behind this type of substance abuse treatment program, MAT can be very beneficial in helping individuals recover from opioid use disorder (OUD) and, in some cases, alcohol use disorder.

What Is Medication Assisted Treatment?

Medication-Assisted Treatment is a safe and effective practice that treats substance abuse disorders by using a combination of FDA-approved medications, evidence-based therapies, counseling, and education.
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This combination of treatments paves the way for recovery and helps recovering users stay in treatment longer. This type of treatment can not only help people recover, but it can assist them in staying sober for an extended period of time. Medication-Assisted Treatment comes with no recommended maximum duration, which means that some individuals could maintain this kind of treatment indefinitely.

How Medication Assisted Treatment Works

Medication-Assisted Treatment uses three types of FDA-approved medications for opioid dependence treatment specifically: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. Medical professionals should offer patients all three options so they can work together to determine and select the medication that best suits the patient’s needs. When used alongside counseling and psychosocial support, these medications can help individuals curb and manage cravings.

Side Effects of Medication Assisted Treatment

While all medications used in Medication-Assisted Treatment are completely safe and medically approved, they do come with their own sets of side effects. Buprenorphine, the medication that is most commonly used in MAT, comes with the following potential side effects:

  • Irritability
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Constipation

Methadone, another medication used in MAT, has side effects such as headache, sweating, stomach pain, dry mouth, vomiting, loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, reduces sex drive, and mood changes. While these symptoms may be uncomfortable, they do not require immediate treatment or attention. There are, however, some serious side effects of methadone that require treatment as soon as possible. If you take methadone as part of MAT and experience any of the following side effects, tell your medication provider or other medical professional:

  • Seizures
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Hallucinations
  • Swelling of the face
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Severe drowsiness

The final medication used in MAT, naltrexone, can also cause minor side effects such as headache, nervousness, diarrhea, vomiting, difficulty sleeping, and muscle or joint pain.

Finding the Right MAT Program For You

While MAT can be very successful in helping patients address underlying issues related to substance abuse, this type of therapy is not for everyone. If you think that Medication-Assisted Treatment might be a good fit for you or a loved one, talk to your doctor or a representative at a rehabilitation center first. If you decide to move forward with this type of treatment, do your research and contact facilities with MAT programs to see which one is best for you. Medical-Assisted Treatment is designed to help individuals develop healthy coping skills and stay permanently sober. However, since opioid use disorder is chronic, people who receive MAT once should be evaluated periodically over time to determine if they will need to receive it again. To learn more about Medical-Assisted Treatment and our programs options on our Medication Assisted Treatment page, contact us by giving us a call at 267.209.7313.


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