Editor Melissa Carmona, MA
Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance... read more
Medically Reviewed By Eric Patterson, LPC
Eric Patterson is a licensed professional counselor in the Pittsburgh area who is dedicated to helping... read more
Updated on 08/06/21
Esta publicación está disponible en español.
The way that drug and alcohol abuse are treated in South Florida is rapidly changing. For many years, the conventional model of treatment — which promotes strict abstinence while people learn the skills that help keep them sober — was the only one available to people looking for help with substance abuse.
However, over the last two decades, many rehab centers have been able to incorporate helpful medications into treatment drug and alcohol addiction successfully. These medicine-assisted treatment options are now becoming increasingly utilized, and more importantly, increasingly effective at keeping people in treatment longer, preventing overdose deaths and reducing the damaging consequences of drug and alcohol abuse.
What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
It’s important to understand the medication-assisted treatment definition. Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, is the supervised administration of prescribed medications which help reduce physical symptoms of addiction, decrease cravings or prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Most often, MAT is used to aid people who are in treatment for alcohol addiction or opioid addiction.
However, MAT is not meant to take the place of the critically important role of 12-step based programs, psychotherapy and relapse prevention work. As the name suggests, MAT is meant to support the primary psychological treatment and counseling work, rather than replace it. Without counseling support, MAT cannot be fully effective.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Drug Abuse
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved medications for the treatment of opioid use disorders. These medications can help decrease the intrusive, overwhelming cravings that can affect a person in recovery and redirect their behaviors.
Some of the medications used in MAT are also used to address physical withdrawal symptoms during medical detox. The medications methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine (including combination buprenorphine and naloxone products like Suboxone) are all approved as medication-assisted treatment for opioid abuse.
Under the guidance of an experienced medical team, taking these medications while attending 12-step groups, therapy sessions, process groups and other treatments can enhance a person’s stability during a vulnerable time as they begin recovery.
Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol Abuse
The FDA has also approved medications to assist in the treatment of alcohol use disorders. The medications disulfiram, acamprosate and naltrexone (including the injectable naltrexone product Vivitrol) are all approved as MAT measures for alcohol use disorders.
Unlike the medication-assisted treatment for opioid abuse, FDA-approved medication-assisted treatment for alcohol use disorders is different than the medications used to treat physical withdrawal symptoms. However, medications used in MAT for both alcohol and opioid use disorders serve the same purpose: to help people in recovery achieve enough stability that their treatment and recovery efforts last longer, are more efficient and are more effective.