MAT vs. Traditional Treatment: What Makes Medication-Assisted Treatment Effective?

MAT – medical assisted treatment, which is used to treat addiction disorders. MAT involves using food and drug administration (FDA)-approved medications to treat addiction. It is used in the treatment to recover people from drugs with the use of medications combined with counseling and behavioral therapies. (1)

MAT offers significant advantages in addressing addiction as it can relieve the physical symptoms associated with addiction. This allows individuals to concentrate on the psychological and emotional aspects of their recovery. People on MAT treatment must attend regular clinic visits for their medication. This provides them with a structured and supportive environment.

Some people hesitate to take MAT because of the medications associated with the treatment. MAT still does not completely remove the cravings from the individuals during treatment.

Medications used in MAT

There are several medications are used in MAT. Here are some of the most common. 


One of the most frequently prescribed MAT drugs for treating opioid addiction is methadone. Methadone acts slowly but lasts longer in an individual’s body. It is given to individuals to eliminate cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It is one of the two medications authorized to treat pregnant or nursing women addicted to opioids.


Buprenorphine (Brand name: Suboxone) is also used to treat opioid addiction. It is the second medication approved by the CDC for pregnant women. (2) It stops the withdrawal symptoms without making you feel happy or drunk. It does this by harmonizing the neurochemical signals in your brain. 


The euphoric effects of alcohol, heroin, morphine, codeine, and opiate are eliminated when using Naltrexone. Using opioids or alcohol while taking Naltrexone will not lead to a euphoric experience as the user expects. 

Furthermore, Naltrexone is occasionally administered to individuals who have recently finished a treatment program to help prevent relapse. Patients with Naltrexone don’t experience the same highs. As a result, they could relapse and overdose. As they chase the high, but it simply isn’t there. (3)  This is because they have reduced drug tolerance.


Disulfiram is a drug utilized in the treatment of alcohol. It works by effectively making it hard on the body when alcohol is introduced. If the patient tries to drink alcohol, it will be unpleasant, and they will experience nausea, flushing, and vomiting.


It is another medication that helps people that are addicted to alcohol. This medication stops the GABA receptors, essentially helping with the withdrawal symptoms.

One in 7 Americans reports experiencing a substance use disorder

Debunking Myths About MAT

There are a lot of myths about MAT treatment among people. Here are the three most common ones:

  • MAT is just replacing one addiction with another 
  • MAT is only Short Term
  • Cold Turkey is Better than MAT

MAT Is Just Replacing One Addiction With Another

Medications involved in MAT are not intended to create another addiction. These medications stabilize the brain chemistry of individuals with addictions. This reduces the severity of withdrawal symptoms and cravings. MAT enables individuals to focus on their life which helps them to achieve their goals.

MAT is Only Short Term

It is preferred that the patient undergo a longer-term treatment, even while utilizing the MAT program. MAT gets the patient through withdrawal, so they don’t have to worry about that and can move into a more traditional therapy sooner. This allows the patients to get great treatment to recover faster as they can skip the week or so-long withdrawals and dive into treating the behavior and trauma issues associated with what caused them to turn to drugs in the first place. The medications used in MAT treatment, however, also go beyond just the withdrawal stage. Patients will have to use the medication, in some cases, for the rest of their lives. This is because it works to balance the chemistry in the patient’s brain.

Cold Turkey is Better Than MAT

For whatever reason, people tend to think that locking themselves in a room and going cold turkey is the best way to go through the withdrawals of addiction. However, this is the worst way to go about it, as the withdrawals are very powerful. This can cause relapse quickly and even overdosing. If a person decides they want to take this more traditional route, it shouldn’t be done at home. There are many withdrawal symptoms that will need proper medical interventions, such as dehydration from vomiting and diarrhea.

Why is MAT So Successful

There are several reasons why we believe MAT to be so successful. The main reason is that many of our patients are scared to undergo the entire withdrawal process. This process is something that they have had some experience with at some point in their lives. Many of our patients are not addicted to the drugs because they want to get high. They want to avoid withdrawals, which can be overwhelming. While this isn’t true for everyone, what is true, is that everyone isn’t looking forward to the withdrawal stage of the recovery process. With MAT, that stage becomes far more tolerable.

Furthermore, the medications are designed to reduce cravings. This is not only helpful during the recovery process but beyond. This allows the patients a dependency on a safe medication that isn’t doing them harm. Similar to blood pressure medications, it is something their body depends on for proper health.

MAT for Alcohol Treatment

Most people believe that MAT treatment is only for drug use. However, it is very effective for alcohol additions as well. While alcohol is legal in the US, many Americans will suffer from alcohol abuse.   Because it is so socially acceptable and readily available, we are seeing more and more clients with this issue.   Many people think they can simply quit alcohol and they won’t experience any side effects. However, that’s not always the case. In some cases, the body is dependent on it, as it would be if it were another drug.

What to Expect in a MAT Treatment

In order to get the full results of medical assisted treatment, individuals can follow these 6 steps:

  • Follow the treatment plan
  • Communicate with your healthcare provider
  • Understand potential side effects 
  • Practice healthy habits 
  • Consider complementary therapies
  • Manage stress

Follow the treatment plan

Take medications properly at the prescribed time and dose for the duration of the treatment. Don’t miss regular clinic visits.

Communicate with your healthcare provider

Make sure to tell your everything happening in your mind and body during treatment to your health care provider. This allows us to produce a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.

Understand potential side effects

Learn what are the side effects of taking the medications. If you come across some of them, let your healthcare provider know.

Practice healthy habits

Certain lifestyle changes help individuals to recover faster, such as eating healthily, getting enough sleep, and getting regular exercise.

Consider complementary therapies

Complimentary therapies such as trauma therapy, medication, and yoga can be used in conjunction with the treatment to improve its effectiveness.

Manage stress

Stress is one of the key causes of relapse and failure to finish rehab. Try to avoid stressful situations and work with us to determine ways to assist you when stress rears its ugly head. 

If you are suffering from a drug and alcohol addiction, Life Line Services is here to help. We offer both traditional and MAT options for our patients. Our team understands the ins and outs of substance abuse. We take pride in offering sympathetic personalized treatment plans to assist our patients on the road to recovery. Contact us today!

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