Warner Park Recovery Center – Woodland Hills Mental Health

Medication Assisted Treatment "MAT"

The Uses of Medication Assisted Treatment for Substance Use Disorders


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What is MAT?

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the combination of the use of medications and behavioral therapies to treat substance use addictions. More specifically, MAT programs are most often recommended to those suffering from alcohol use disorder (AUD) and opioid use disorder (OUD). Medications used for MAT are U.S Food and Drug Administration-approved and are known to be the most effective intervention in treating OUD, compared to behavioral interventions and medication alone. Each MAT medication differs in the way it works to relieve withdrawal symptoms and/or block the euphoric effects of the drugs.

Is MAT Effective?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, medication-assisted treatment has proven to be effective in treating the withdrawal symptoms and negative effects of opioid and alcohol use. Paired with treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and counseling, MAT programs utilize a “whole person” approach to treating opioid dependence and alcohol addiction and are helpful in assisting patients in long-term sobriety. This treatment approach has been known to

  • Improve survival rates of those suffering from substance use disorders.
  • Increase retention and willingness to remain in treatment.
  • Decrease illicit opioid use, binge drinking, and other health problems caused by addiction
  • Increase daily functioning and ability to maintain a normal routine.
  • Improve live birth outcomes among women who are pregnant and struggling with substance use.

After a study conducted in 2015, following the long term effectiveness of MAT, results showed,

  • 18 months after receiving MAT treatment, 50% of participants were still abstinent from drugs
  • After 3-5 years, 61% of participants were still sober, with fewer than 10% meeting the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) for a diagnosis of drug dependence.

What Are the Types of Medications Used For MAT?

Different medications exist to treat addiction depending upon the substances an individual is struggling with.

Medications Used for Opioid Addiction

  • Buprenorphine– suppresses and reduces cravings for opioids. This medication also expels existing opioids from the opioid receptors in the brain and blocks other opioids from attaching. Buprenorphine can also prevent withdrawal and associated symptoms for up to 72 hours. Buprenorphine is available as a pill, a film placed in the cheek or under the tongue, as an injection, or as an implant. FDA approved brands include:
    • Probuphine implant
    • Sublocade – and extended-release injection of buprenorphine (BUP-XR)
    • Suboxone (buprenorphine and naloxone) film
    • Subutex (buprenorphine and naloxone) film or tablet
    • Zubsolv (buprenorphine and naloxone) tablets
    • Bunavail (buprenorphine and naloxone) film
    • Cassipa (buprenorphine and naloxone) film
  • Methadone – Methadone reduces cravings for opioids and withdrawal symptoms. It also blocks the effects of opioids. Methadone can only be dispensed through certified Opioid Treatment providers certified by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Methadone fully binds the opioid receptors in the brain, which means it prevents withdrawal symptoms while not producing euphoric effects. Methadone is available in liquid (Methadose) or tablet (Dolophine).
  • Naltrexone– Naltrexone is used to block the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids. It is mainly used as a relapse prevention drug. It does not prevent withdrawal symptoms. Patients must be free from the use of opioids for at least 7-10 days before taking naltrexone.

Medications Used For Alcohol Use Disorder

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