Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) and the Effects of MAT on Addiction

Medication-Assisted Treatment
Blair Sharp Freelance Writer at Recovery Unplugged

Written By

Blair Sharp

What is MAT?

Medication-Assisted Treatment is a recovery tool that combines counseling with FDA-approved medications to treat people with substance use disorder (SUD), most commonly opioid use disorder (OUD). Those diagnosed with alcohol use disorder (AUD) can also benefit from MAT in many cases.

Medication can help you taper off drugs and/or alcohol and lessen your cravings. In addition, it can increase your willingness to participate in therapies and help with long-term cravings after you leave treatment.

MAT is most effective when used in combination with behavioral therapy. Federal law states that those using MAT as a form of treatment are required to get additional counseling.

How does MAT work?

The use of opioids causes a chemical imbalance in your brain. The medications used during MAT help stabilize brain chemistry and block dopamine receptors. This lessens the individual’s dependence on opioids and eases their withdrawal symptoms.

A large reason why MAT is successful is the behavioral therapy that goes along with it. Combining the two leads to the best result for those with OUD.


Each drug used during MAT works differently, so each person’s treatment will be tailored to their specific needs. Currently, there are three FDA-approved drugs to treat OUD:

  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone

The most commonly used drugs for those looking to treat their AUD with MAT are acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone.

Behavioral Health Counseling

Behavioral rehabilitation is an important part of the treatment process. This can involve talking with a mental health professional one-on-one or with others in a group setting. At Recovery Unplugged, your therapy is tailored to your needs. The goal is for you to learn the root cause of your behavior, identify common triggers, and gain skills to manage your emotions.

Benefits of MAT

Combined with therapy, MAT has been proven to be an effective approach to treating SUD. Some reasons are:

  • Treatment is specific to the individual’s needs
  • Assists with withdrawal symptoms
  • Helps taper off substances
  • Prepares individual to enter a rehabilitation facility
  • Lessens cravings long-term

It’s a common misconception that those who get help for their issues with substance use are “cured” after they complete their stay at a rehabilitation facility. For many, SUD is a lifelong battle. MAT helps with cravings when you leave treatment and reduces your chance of relapse.

According to the SAMHSA, approximately 9.2 million adults in the United States who struggle with substance use disorders also have a mental illness. For people with a dual-diagnosis, a combination of medication and therapy allows people to address their mental illness and substance use disorder together. 

Barriers to MAT

Getting proper care for your SUD isn’t an easy road for everyone. As with mental health care, MAT comes with barriers that are important to mention.


There’s a stigma associated with drug use that Individuals and the people that support them are often faced with. The individual is seen as “bad,” and told that they are the problem. This way of thinking does nothing but hurt their recovery and can keep people stuck in the cycle of drug addiction for much longer.

Many believe that MAT is a substitute for the person’s drug of choice. They view MAT as a replacement drug, but there’s much more to it than that. When we start to see MAT as a necessary part of the rehabilitation process, we can help those who suffer to find healing.


There are various reasons why people don’t have proper access to MAT. There can be a gap in time between when someone wants help and when they actually receive it. This can lead to continued use, rethinking their decision, overdose, and sometimes death.

Many facilities have long waitlists or don’t have the medications needed for MAT. And not all areas of the country provide reputable MAT treatment options.

Other problems are low facility staffing and unsupportive or uninformed providers. People’s access to health insurance and other social and cultural circumstances can all be barriers to MAT.

Is MAT right for you?

If you think MAT is the right option for you or your family member, call Recover Unplugged today at 1-855-975-1757 to get started. Our experienced staff is ready to help. They will answer your questions and make this a comfortable and healing experience for you or your loved one.Our team of professionals at Recovery Unplugged provides you with customized programs and specialized care so that the individual heals. We take most private insurance plans and have treatment facilities across the country. We’re here to support you restore hope and healing in your life.

At Recovery Unplugged, we understand that what you’re going through is difficult and are here to help. Our goal is to help you achieve your desired outcome of getting better. We have various treatment options, including virtual therapy, medications, and counseling. MAT is one of those options.

Blair Sharp Freelance Writer at Recovery Unplugged

Blair Sharp

Blair Sharp is a distinguished writer and advocate in the realms of sobriety, mental health, and parenting. Based in Rochester, Minnesota, Blair embarked on her alcohol-free journey in February 2018, a transformative decision that has since fueled her passion for writing and sharing her insights with a wider audience.

With a professional background as a Psychometrist since 2014, Blair possesses a deep understanding of cognitive functions and psychology. This expertise, combined with her personal experiences, lends depth and authenticity to her writings on addiction, recovery, and mental well-being.

Blair's writing prowess is evident across various platforms. She actively shares her insights on her personal blog at As a staff writer for Rochester Mom, she contributes valuable content, making it a trusted parenting resource in her community. Her voice further resonates with many on Instagram and through her role as a host for 1000 Hours Dry Parents, solidifying her position as a credible and influential figure in the sobriety community.

Dedicated to her craft, Blair's writings are a testament to her knowledge, experience, and commitment to helping others navigate the challenges of addiction and find solace in sobriety.


  • Alcohol-free since February 2018, providing firsthand experience with sobriety and recovery.
  • Worked as a Psychometrist, directly engaging with patients to test their cognitive functions.
  • Prominent writer and blogger, contributing insights on her personal blog and featured in esteemed publications such as, The, Parents, Psycom, and Daily Dot.


  • Bachelor's degree in Professional Studies with an emphasis in Psychology from Winona State University.
  • Specialized training in Psychometry, starting in 2014.
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