Medication-assisted treatment, commonly called MAT, combines behavioral therapy and medication to treat opioid use disorder (OUD), alcohol use disorder (AUD), or smoking. MAT has proved to be clinically effective and to significantly reduce the need for inpatient detoxification services for individuals with substance abuse disorders, according to the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
There are three medications used in MAT for OUD: methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. Methadone, a clinically administered opioid that prevents withdrawal and does not block other narcotics, can only be given by an opioid treatment program certified clinic. Buprenorphine is a partial opioid-based medication that does block the effect of other narcotics while preventing withdrawal, can be administered in an office setting by a doctor with a buprenorphine waiver. Naltrexone is a non opioid-based medication that blocks the opioids from attaching to receptors in the brain but does not prevent withdrawal. Naltrexone is also used to treat AUD.
Selection of medication in combination of behavioral therapy is most successful when the individual’s needs and history of opioid use are taken into consideration.