Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is one treatment option for individuals in recovery from Substance Abuse Disorder (SUD) that is often used with other treatment and recovery modalities. Another name for MAT that you might hear is Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD). Each person has a personal path to recovery from SUD, and treatment with medication is a medical standard of care. It can help people begin their recovery, regain their lives and place in the community, and improve relationships with family and friends.

There are many different MAT options, such as buprenorphine (Suboxone) and injectable naltrexone (Vivitrol), for individuals in recovery to choose from. The reason that there are so many different MAT options is that different medications serve different purposes. Several medications help to reduce cravings for opioids (including heroin and prescription pain pills) or alcohol and reduce withdrawal symptoms. Because there are so many options, the choice is best made with the prescribing doctor.

MAT is most often prescribed in an outpatient setting at a clinic or doctor’s office but is sometimes prescribed in inpatient and correctional settings. Clinics that prescribe MAT often also provide other medical and support services, including counseling and recovery coaching. All MAT medications require supervision by a licensed professional or program. Treatment on MAT can be short-term or long-term (known as maintenance) depending on the needs and goals of the individual. Some programs offer outpatient detox or short-term MAT services. Some inpatient programs offer MAT that is continued after the patient leaves the treatment program (and becomes outpatient) – this option is sometimes available while an individual is in jail or prison.

Where can I find someone who can prescribe medications for substance use disorder?

Step 1: If you have a health care provider (doctor, nurse, etc.), start there. Ask them about MAT and whether you can be prescribed one of these medications. If your health care provider is unable or unwilling to prescribe these medications, request a referral to another provider who can prescribe them.

Step 2: If you do not have a health care provider, find a local treatment provider by clicking HERE.

Why use medications for substance use disorder?

MAT is one tool in the toolbox that people have to reduce the risk of relapse. For example, people who stop using opioids often relapse (return to use) if they do not use medication to help them. Stopping and then restarting using substances, especially opioids, increases the chance of dying from an overdose.

What medications are available?

Methadone

  • Helps with opioid withdrawal
  • You drink it
  • You have to go to a clinic daily for the first 90 days of treatment
  • Click HERE for more information

Buprenorphine (Suboxone, Subutex)

  • Helps with opioid withdrawal
  • You usually start by taking it daily as a tablet or film that dissolves under the tongue or in the cheek
  • New rules now make it easier for health care providers to get a certificate (waiver) to prescribe buprenorphine, but not all clinics will offer it
  • You typically get the prescription filled at a pharmacy
  • In most cases, you can take it at home
  • Once you have stabilized, your provider may recommend a long acting form of buprenorphine, such as Sublocade (injection).
  • Click HERE for more information

Naltrexone (Vivitrol)

  • You must stop opioid and/or alcohol use 7 to 10 days before starting
  • You might be prescribed other medications to help with withdrawal symptoms
  • Usually given as a shot once a month
  • Click HERE for more information

Acamprosate

  • You must stop drinking alcohol before taking
  • You swallow one tablet three times a day
  • Does not prevent alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Click HERE for more information

Disulfiram

  • Medication comes as a pill, and may be crushed and mixed with liquids
  • Click HERE for more information

Important Notes

  • These medications can save lives.
  • You should discuss with a health care provider which one would work best for you.
  • You should never stop taking medication without the guidance of a health care provider. Never stop taking them on your own.

Check out the 2020 Resource Guide for additional information on this program.

View Resource Guide
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