What’s Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and How It Can Help You

What’s Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) and How It Can Help You

Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, refers to the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to treat opioid use disorder. It’s also popular for people seeking treatment for heroin addiction or alcohol dependency. The use of MAT drugs help alleviate the physiological and mental cravings, making withdrawal less unpleasant and making it easier to sustain long-lasting recovery.    

Currently, there are three medications approved by the FDA for treating opioid dependence: buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone. All three medications are shown to be safe and effective when combined with counseling and psychosocial support. 

Because each drug is unique, it’s important that doctors offer all three to people in holistic recovery for addiction. This allows healthcare providers to experiment with each drug and find the best fit for the individual. Due to its safety and efficacy, some people take these medications indefinitely. 

MAT is a great option if you’re seeking opioid addiction treatment on an outpatient basis in Phoenix because it is successful outside the typical inpatient / detox setting. If you are considering medication-assisted treatment, or a medical professional has recommended this therapy, you might be wondering what this treatment entails and the benefits it offers. Below you’ll find more information about MAT and how it can support a full recovery. 

What is MAT? How Does it Work? 

To understand how MAT works, you must first understand the brain and how opioids like heroin affect it. 

Opiates work by crossing the blood-brain barrier and attaching to brain receptors that are responsible for feeling good. The brain quickly adapts to these changes and wants more of this activity, which can lead to a physiological dependence. When this dependence is combined with genetic and psychological factors, a full-blown addiction can form. 

MAT works in a couple of ways. First, doctors can give you an opiate that activates the same receptors in the brain but are absorbed into the blood over a longer period of time. This breaks the physiological effects of the drug, staves off withdrawal symptoms and prevents you from feeling immediately high. 

Second, doctors can give you a non-opioid drug that sits on the same receptors and blocks them. This way, if you relapse, you won’t feel the pleasurable effects from the drug. It’s important to note, however, that relapsing can have other effects. While you may not feel high, you can still overdose on opioids

Doesn’t MAT Replace One Drug for Another? 

Some people worry that all MAT does is replace one drug for another, and essentially, this is the case. However, the drugs used in MAT are safe, effective and FDA approved. They are replacing a harmful drug that can kill you. Furthermore, the medications used in MAT allow you to live a normal life. You are not obtaining them off the streets or putting yourself at risk for overdose, death and other high-risk lifestyle choices. 

Studies show that people who use medication-assisted therapy have better outcomes, reduced rates of relapse and overdose and a lower risk for infectious diseases like HIV. While there is a great deal of scientific evidence supporting MAT, it’s still important to recognize that each person is unique. Therefore, what’s good for one person in recovery may not be for another. 

group of people eating food

Who is a Good Candidate for MAT? 

Generally speaking, we find that the people who benefit most from MAT are those who are struggling with an opioid addiction and prefer an outpatient rehab for substance abuse. A carefully structured medication plan can help them get through the withdrawal process, regain a normal state of mind and decrease the highs and lows that come with dependency. 

People who enter an inpatient treatment program usually don’t have access to drugs and have a structured environment that keeps them from relapsing. Treatment professionals and other resources are also readily available. In many cases, clients in these programs are able to stop using drugs altogether, which means MAT may not be necessary. 

To determine if you are a good candidate for medication-assisted therapy, a medical health professional will assess you. They can determine if MAT is right for you, and if so, which medication and dosage to prescribe. Be aware that not all outpatient treatment centers in Phoenix have the structure and accountability to make MAT successful. 

Why Choose Continuum Recovery Center for MAT 

Continuum Recovery Center provides medication-assisted treatment combined with behavioral therapies and cognitive therapies. We believe that the right medications can help people with opioid addictions recover and reach sobriety at a pace that works for them. When used appropriately, MAT can help you reintegrate into normal life, protect you from PAWS (post-acute withdrawal syndrome) and support a long-term recovery. 

Here are a few key benefits for choosing our holistic outpatient recovery center for medication-assisted therapy: 

  • Whole patient care. We don’t just treat the symptoms of addiction – we treat the whole person. MAT supports this vision by calming the brain, reducing cravings and discouraging the use of opioids. When this happens, you can start improving other areas of your life through diet, exercise and talk therapy. 
  • Faster results. Recovery is a process, but we know that our clients’ spirits lift when they see results. MAT helps clients get back into their everyday lives sooner. If you combine other therapies like counseling, art therapy and naturopathic remedies, you can see results even faster. 
  • Convenience and affordability. As a heroin outpatient treatment center, we have flexible treatment options that fit your schedule. Work your program during the day and return home to your family at night. We also accept most major insurance plans. 

MAT May Also be Used to Treat Alcohol Use Disorder 

Even though MAT is most commonly used to treat opioid use disorder, it may also be used for alcohol addiction. Continuum Recovery Center offers medication-assisted treatment for alcohol use disorder. The most commonly used medications are disulfiram, acamprosate and naltrexone. These drugs remove the cravings and desirable effects of alcohol. 

MAT for alcohol use disorder is most effective when included in a comprehensive treatment program. Our treatment center will still recommend additional counseling and behavioral therapies, as well as healthy lifestyle changes that include good nutrition, regular physical activity and relaxation techniques. 

To learn more about our medication-assisted treatment programs for opioid use disorder or alcohol use disorder, contact Continuum Recovery Center today. We can help you get clean and sober so that you can get back to the life you deserve.