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Medication Assisted Treatment

Serenity Lane Treatment Center
Home Treatment Programs Medication-Assisted Treatment

medication assisted therapy

Addiction Treatment Assisted by Medication

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of certain medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a unique approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Some of the drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), known as FDA-approved medications, are naltrexone, buprenorphine and methadone. These work best in combination with clinical therapies for the treatment of substance use disorders—which is why MAT exists.

MAT can make a world of difference in long-term recovery for those struggling with addiction. These types of programs often take place in clinics which are also often known as suboxone clinics.

The prescribed medication—like buprenorphine, naltrexone, or methadone—normalizes brain chemistry, relieves physiological cravings, and normalizes body functions without the other substance’s negative withdrawal effects.

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) For Opioid Addiction

Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) is typically used for opioid based addictions to substances like:

  • Heroin
  • Fentanyl
  • Codeine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Vicodin
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Carfentanil

Opioids make it harder for the brain to detect pain by changing the body’s perception of pain. They can also have an impact on other systems of the body, including altering mood, slowing breathing, and causing constipation.

Opioid receptor binding—which is when something finds a way to attach itself to a special space in the brain that is meant to receive the signals that opioid medications send—causes the signs and symptoms of overdose. It can cause the euphoric effects or “high” associated with opioid use. MAT works by acting on the same targets in the brain as heroin and morphine.

For example, methadone and buprenorphine suppress withdrawal symptoms and relieve cravings. Whereas naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids at their receptor sites in the brain and is used only in patients who have already been through detox.

More rarely, MAT can be used for alcohol use disorders. Only three medications are FDA-approved for treating alcohol addiction. One of these is nNaltrexone and it works very much like it does for opioids. It is known to help reduce cravings for both opioids and alcohol.

More on the Medications That Are Used in MAT

Medications used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—like we said above—and we will be focusing only on these approved drugs when discussing the medication options for MAT.

mat treatmentA very common misconception associated with MAT is that it substitutes one drug for another. This can be a common belief simply because to those who don’t know what the medications do, it can seem like substituting one addiction for another since you need to be on the medication during treatment to effectively enter into the lifelong journey of recovery.

In reality, these medications relieve withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings. MAT programs are designed to provide a safe and controlled level of medication. This can help overcome use of an opioid.

Specific Medication Used in MAT

  • Naloxone (Evzio, Narcan)
  • Naltrexone (Revia, Vivitrol)
  • Buprenorphine (Belbuca, Buprenex, Butrans, Suboxone, Subutex)
  • Methadone (Diskets, Dolophine, Methadose)

Is MAT Drug Treatment Successful at Treating Opioid Addiction?

MAT programs are clinically driven and  MAT is known to be clinically effective. It provides a more comprehensive, customized program of medication and behavioral therapy.

The ultimate goal for any addiction treatment program is always lifelong recovery. Research has shown many positive effects of MAT. One of the positive effects of MAT is that the risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C is greatly reduced. This is because of the proven lower rates of relapse, which comes from having a good plan. This could also be because the potential of sharing old or used needles is lower if there is less relapse of use of injectable drugs in general.

How the MAT Process Aids in Treatment and Recovery

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Decrease opiate use
  • Increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment
  • Improve birth outcomes among pregnant women who have substance use disorders

When a person has become physically dependent upon an opioid-based drug—especially if the use has been prolonged—there is the potential for withdrawal. This is common, especially if they attempt to suddenly stop taking their drug of choice without appropriate care or supervision.

These symptoms can be debilitating and include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Drug craving
  • Weakness
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Muscle, joint and bone pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Restless leg syndrome

These symptoms can be relieved by the administration of an opioid, so many fall back into addiction simply to relieve the awful withdrawal symptoms. Fear of withdrawal is actually a significant reason why many people continue to use these substances despite wanting to stop or agreeing to stop taking them.

Trading Addictions Isn’t Real

A common misconception of MAT is it simply replaces one addiction with another, like we said above. This is a common thought, but it is incorrect.

MAT is NOT the substitution of one addiction for a new one. The medications are used in moderation under direct supervision, This is similar to how small doses of methamphetamine are used in prescriptions for ADHD. Like any drug you get from your local pharmacy, it’s all about the appropriate dose.

Suboxone also has a “ceiling”, meaning that it’s not possible to obtain a significant high. It is also super important to realize that not everyone should be on suboxone, but you’re often a good fit if you meet some or many of the following criteria:

  • Addicted to opioids
  • Low-cost option
  • Allowed by Medicaid and Medicare
  • Need flexibility for work

The professionals as Serenity Lane work with every individual client to assess their needs and determine whether MAT is the best option for them.

Another thing to realize is that MAT is not the end of treatment, instead it is usually just the beginning. While it can help in the recovery process, it is not the only treatment method needed to achieve long-term recovery. MAT is most effective when used along with education, evidence-based behavioral therapies, relapse prevention programs, and other treatment methods.

What Is the Difference Between MAT Programs and Traditional Addiction Treatment Programs?

It is important to remember that not every type of treatment is ideal for everyone. Each and every single person will benefit from having a tailored approach for themselves. There are various other types of treatment for addiction other than MAT and each has its own benefits.

Some options in treating drug addiction include:

  • Behavioral counseling
  • Medication
  • Medical devices and applications used to treat withdrawal symptoms or deliver skill training
  • Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues like depression and anxiety
  • Long-term follow-up to prevent relapse

Various care programs used alongside a tailored treatment program and follow-up options can be crucial to lifelong recovery for anyone struggling with addiction. Treatment should include both medical and mental health services as needed. Follow-up care may include community- or family-based recovery support systems.

Successful MAT Treatment Has Several Steps

These steps include but are not limited to:

  • Detoxification
  • Behavioral counseling
  • Medication (for opioid, tobacco, or alcohol addiction)
  • Evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues like depression and anxiety
  • Long-term follow-up to prevent relapse

Suboxone clinic time commitment is vastly different from a traditional rehab setting. For example, when attending traditional rehab or addiction treatment you can expect to have a 3-8 hour day for your recovery treatment plan.

For MAT clinics like those you can find around the state of Oregon, you can expect 5-10 minute visits and 15-30 minutes behavioral health consult visits. During MAT, your initial visit will be longer, which is like a traditional setting. However, this visit is filled with questionnaires and in-depth medical assessments.

These are important for making sure that MAT is the correct treatment option for you. This can also be a necessity to get insurance approval for medication-assisted treatment. Also, you can expect to have some semi-frequent clinic visits in the beginning as you get used to the medication and your provider or addiction treatment professional monitors your progress.

When it comes to both MAT and traditional rehab, there is the potential for insurance co-pays and other costs associated with using insurance coverage for your recovery treatment. A lot of insurance companies now cover—and prefer—MAT programs over traditional types of rehab. The provider will have information about total cost and payment options.

This is simply another way it is different from other traditional rehabs. The actual cost to an individual varies depending on the state where the person lives, health insurance coverage, and other factors.

So, what do you do next if you are ready to seek out care with medication-assisted treatment for yourself, a friend or a loved one?

Why Choose MAT For Your Addiction Treatment?

The withdrawal symptoms from opioids are extremely intense and pose a considerable threat to recovery, which is made clear from years of research and experience. Opioids derail normal brain functions, leading to withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, intense and painful muscle cramps, and sweating.

These symptoms often lead to relapse. MAT provides patients the relief from withdrawal symptoms they need to work through their recovery program. Serenity Lane views medication-assisted treatment as an important tool in addressing and treating the chronic and progressive disease of opioid addiction.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) at Serenity Lane

We drew upon our 45 years of experience treating substance use disorders, evidence-based methods of care, and industry best practices to develop our MAT program.

Under this program, we offer naltrexone (Vivitrol®) and buprenorphine (Suboxone®) for maintenance to all patients with an opioid use disorder. The decision between the use of naltrexone (Vivitrol®) or buprenorphine (Suboxone®) for maintenance is patient-centered and always combined with therapeutic and wellness programming.

Our MAT program incorporates evidence-based, solution-focused methods for treating opioid addiction. Key elements of the program include:

  1. Integrating a medical component
  2. Providing extensive, holistic family education and therapy
  3. Engagement in treatment programming
  4. Ongoing support, monitoring, and communication throughout all levels of care

MAT for Opioid Addiction Disorder While in Treatment at Serenity Lane

The withdrawal symptoms from opioids are extremely intense and pose a considerable threat to recovery. Opioids derail normal brain functions, leading to withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, intense and painful muscle cramps, and sweating. These symptoms often lead to relapse.

MAT provides patients the relief from withdrawal symptoms they need to work through their recovery program, like we saw above. Serenity Lane views medication-assisted treatment as an important tool in addressing and treating the chronic and progressive disease of opioid addiction.

It is important to stress again that medication alone is not a cure-all. Medication must be used as just one piece in a comprehensive therapeutic program.

Our medically-driven program is designed to produce the best possible outcomes for patients. A dedicated medical team that includes Serenity Lane’s medical director—who is certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine—has overseen and managed the design and implementation of this program.

Serenity Lane has been treating substance use disorders for more than 45 years. We recognize that addiction is a complex disease and requires comprehensive and patient-centered approaches. We are committed to an abstinence-focused approach and believe that in order to help people we must first be able to meet them where they are.

Will Serenity Lane Prescribe Buprenorphine?

Serenity Lane will be prescribing buprenorphine for patients needing stabilization and treatment in our inpatient residential facility in Coburg. We currently do not prescribe buprenorphine in the outpatient setting, but we work closely with prescribers across the region to ensure all patients discharging on MAT have a plan and a connection once they enter the outpatient phase of their treatment.

Will Serenity Lane Prescribe Methadone?

medication assisted treatment for drug abuseWe will not be prescribing methadone, our MAT program includes naltrexone (Vivitrol®) and buprenorphine (Suboxone®) only.

Medication Assisted Treatment FAQs

What medications are used for MAT?

The most common medications for MAT are buprenorphine (Suboxone®) and methadone. At Serenity Lane, we utilize Suboxone® and Vivitrol® most frequently. These two drugs are a few of the FDA-approved medications for medication assisted treatment.

What are the benefits of medication-assisted treatment?

There are many benefits to taking part in medication-assisted treatment. These include reduced risk of overdose and reduced risk of HIV or other diseases transmitted by used needles. There is also the benefit of lessened symptoms from withdrawal like shaking, headaches and intense cravings. Another major benefit of MAT that is frequently overlooked is that it is proven to help inspire and lead into lifelong recovery by reducing the likelihood of relapse.

Is medication-assisted treatment effective?

Yes! MAT is known to be incredibly effective. It is also listed as one of the clinically proven methods of addiction treatment by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). MAT has a strong basis in clinical evidence-based treatment. Currently, the CDC is conducting another thorough study that seeks to prove the efficacy of MAT for treating addiction.

Which medication is approved only for the treatment of pain?

There are many medications that are only prescribed for treatment of chronic pain. Medications like Suboxone® are opioids that are only prescribed for the treatment of addiction and NOT the treatment of pain.

What Is Serenity Lane’s Treatment Philosophy?

Our goal is to provide a continuum of care services that will eventually lead to patient self- management. We meet patients where they are and provide the care services and resources to help them find long-term recovery.

Serenity Lane has pioneered many new programs over the years, including outpatient and residential step-down programs that combine residential and outpatient services. Serenity Lane has outpatient programs in many locations throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington. Serenity Lane’s quality treatment of patients and their families is legendary.

Call 800-543-9905 to speak with a member of our admissions team.

Non-profit treatment centers for
alcohol and drug addictions.
Treatment facilities located in:

Coburg, Eugene, SE Portland, SW Portland, Salem, Albany, Bend, and Roseburg, OR and Vancouver WA