Understanding Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

By The Valor Team
Friday, May 24, 2019 at 2:35 pm in
doctor taking blood pressure

Medication-assisted treatment saves lives while increasing the chances a person will remain in treatment and learn the skills and build the networks necessary for long-term recovery. 

   Michael Botticelli, Director, National Drug Control Policy

A great deal of confusion exists about medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD) and what the approach actually entails.

The components of the term are perfectly descriptive. The "medication" part refers to the use of three FDA-approved medications to treat OUD: buprenorphine, naltrexone and methadone. An important piece that is not widely understood is that medications are only part of a MAT approach. In true medication-assisted treatment, the medications are "assisting" other components of treatment. These components include a variety of psychosocial approaches that address the non-biological aspects of OUD, including a person's behavior, emotions, thought processes, and interactions within social environments.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, "Medication-assisted treatment is the use of FDA-approved medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a holistic approach to the treatment of substance abuse disorders.” 

In addition to tailoring medications to address cravings and withdrawal, a comprehensive treatment approach will also include therapy or counseling to address behavioral issues, support recovery and prevent relapse. The psychosocial therapies included as part of a medication-assisted treatment approach to opioid use disorder differ, depending on the needs of the client, their challenges and clinical severity. 

The nature of addiction is complex, and a particular type of treatment that works for one person may not work well for another. The practitioners and/or therapists should have an arsenal of skills in delivering evidence-based practices for OUD, so that they can utilize different approaches with each patient as necessary. 

By helping to reduce cravings and withdrawal, medication-assisted treatment can help a person stop thinking constantly about the opioids allowing them to focus on returning to a healthy lifestyle.  The medications restore balance to the brain circuits affected by addiction, allowing the patient’s brain to heal while working toward recovery.

The MAT approach to OUD treatment is supported by medical and behavioral health groups, including the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the National Council for Behavioral Health, patient advocate groups, and federal entities including the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. surgeon general.

Valor's Outpatient MAT program is clinically driven and tailored to meet each client's needs. Treatments include FDA-approved medications such as products containing Naltrexone (oral Naltrexone or Vivitrol) and Buprenorphine products (i.e.. Suboxone) as prescribed by our medical professionals, and included as part of an overall outpatient treatment program.

The ultimate goal of Valor Recovery Center’s MAT program is full recovery, including the ability for clients to live a sober, self-directed life.

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