Medication Assisted Treatment MAT What is MAT? Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT, are special programs that combine medication with counseling to help people who are physically dependent on specific substances.Substances effective to treat by using MAT are opioids (like heroin) and alcohol. In these programs, people take medication to help with physical dependency and withdrawals and get counseling and other services they need.There are several types of medications, but they are used to lessen cravings and/or help withdrawal symptoms.Studies have shown that MAT programs are safe, profitable, reduce overdoses, increase treatment retention, and improve social functioning.The goal of MAT is for people to make a full recovery and be productive and independent.Medications for Alcohol Use DisorderAcamprosateAcamprosate is best for people in recovery who have stopped drinking and want to avoid drinking again.Because long-term use of alcohol harms brain function, acamprosate helps the brain function normally.Acamprosate does not work for people who have not stopped drinking heavily or also misuse other drugs.Another name for Acamprosate is Campral.DisulfiramDisulfiram makes a person sensitive to alcohol.About 10 minutes after drinking alcohol, a person will experience heavy nausea, vomiting, headache, and chest pains that last an hour or more.When a person has this bad reaction to drinking, it makes them less likely to drink again.Another name for Disulfiram is Antabuse.NaltrexoneNaltrexone blocks the reward of being drunk.Because most often, a person drinks heavily to experience intoxication, they are less likely to drink if they cannot get drunk.This drug reduces alcohol use and makes the individual remain motivated to not relapse.Other names for Naltrexone are ReVia, Vivitrol, and Depade.Medications for Opioid Use DisordersBuprenorphineBuprenorphine reduces opioid cravings.Buprenorphine has a limit, or ceiling effect, on how high someone can get when using it, so it has a lower overdose potential.Another name for Buprenorphine is Subutex.MethadoneMethadone reduces opioid cravings and blocks the reward of using opioids.Methadone stays in the body for a long time, and because it reduces cravings, it keeps the individual stable and focused on recovery.It is recommended an individual stays on methadone for 12 months for it to work as prescribed.NaltrexoneNaltrexone blocks the reward of opioid use, so a person does not feel high and has fewer cravings.Like how it is used for alcohol, if the user cannot get high, they are less likely to use.Other names for Naltrexone are ReVia, Vivitrol, and Depade.SuboxoneSuboxone is a combination of buprenorphine and naltrexone. By combining these two medications, suboxone lessens cravings and cannot be used to get high by blocking the reward of opioid use.Because of the buprenorphine, there is a limit, or ceiling effect, on the drug’s effect, so users cannot get high as if they were using opioids like heroin.MYTH BUSTER:Switching One Addiction with Another?MAT is NOT switching one addiction with a new one!While some people think MAT treatment is switching one drug for another, these medications are given in monitored environments.If the person uses the medication as prescribed, just like a prescription written for a cold, it is safe and effective. Also, these medications have a different effect than opioids like heroin. They slowly create steady levels of the drug in the brain, so the person does not get the reward of using, which makes them want to use less.Also, if a person uses these medications, then uses an opioid, the opioid does not have as much of a rewarding effect. Also, some of these medications, like buprenorphine and suboxone, have a limit on how high a user can get when using these medications, so they cannot be used to replace previous drugs of choice. Learn more about finding mental health treatment or our community of mental health resource experts in Alabama.