Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Many facilities and treatment providers incorporate medication into the treatment process to help with the symptoms of withdrawal, prevent relapse, and manage cravings. It is most often used for treating addictions to opioids, benzodiazepines, and/or alcohol.

There is a popular misconception that using medication in treating substance abuse disorders is basically like trading in one addiction for another, but according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), use of FDA-approved medications, combined with evidence-based therapies, can be effective in treating addiction and it may help recovering addicts stay in treatment longer.

A patient deciding to enter an addiction treatment program will have to undergo an intake evaluation by a mental health professional. This evaluation’s goals will be to:

  • Diagnose the substance use disorder.
  • Evaluate the severity of the addiction.
  • Assess for the presence of co-occurring mental or physical health problems.

After your condition is assessed, the staff will decide whether you are a good candidate for MAT. According to SAMHSA, you can qualify if you:

  • Have an official diagnosis for alcohol or opioids addiction.
  • Are willing to fully comply with the instructions you will be given.
  • Lack any physical health issues that the medication could exacerbate.
  • Are fully aware of alternative options.

It is important to remember that medication alone is not enough to help a patient achieve and maintain sobriety in the long term. Effective addiction treatment combines the use of evidence-based behavioral therapies, education, relapse prevention programs, and medication.

Medication can help patients remain clean while the therapies they are undergoing address underlying issues related to substance abuse, help with self-esteem, and build healthy coping skills.