Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a critical component in the battle against substance use disorders. It combines the use of FDA-approved medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a “whole-patient” approach to treatment. Here are five essential things to know about MAT:

MAT is evidence-based and effective. MAT is not just another treatment option; it’s an evidence-based practice that has been shown to be highly effective in treating substance use disorders. Research indicates that MAT significantly increases patient retention in treatment, reduces illicit opioid use, and improves social functioning. 

Multiple medications are available. MAT involves several FDA-approved medications, each serving different purposes and suitable for different types of substance use disorder. Your doctor will work with you to develop the treatment plan that’s right for you. Medications are chosen based on the individual’s specific medical needs, treatment goals, and other factors determined by healthcare professionals.

MAT is not just “replacing one drug with another.” One common misconception about MAT is that it merely substitutes one addiction for another. However, this viewpoint overlooks the crucial role that these medications play in stabilizing brain chemistry, reducing physiological cravings, and normalizing bodily functions. Unlike illicit opioid use, MAT medications are taken under medical supervision and are part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and behavioral therapies. 

Counseling and behavioral therapies are integral. While medications are a cornerstone of MAT, they are most effective when combined with counseling and behavioral therapies. These therapies help address the psychological and social aspects of addiction, providing patients with strategies to cope with triggers, stress, and other challenges. 

Access to MAT is expanding. Despite its proven effectiveness, access to MAT has historically been limited by various barriers, including regulatory restrictions, stigma, and a shortage of trained providers. However, efforts are underway to expand access to this life-saving treatment. Public health campaigns are working to reduce the stigma associated with MAT, helping more individuals seek the treatment they need.

Medication-Assisted Treatment is a powerful tool in the fight against substance use disorders. Get connected with a provider to learn more. 

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