What is MAT (Medication-Assisted Treatment)?

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MAT (medication-assisted treatment) is a science-backed approach to treating addiction that blends medications with counseling and behavioral therapies. MAT is proven effective for the treatment of alcohol and opioid addictions. By integrating FDA-approved medications with therapeutic interventions, MAT tackles addiction holistically, addressing both the physiological and psychological aspects of the condition.

This guide examines the following issues:

  • What is MAT in recovery?
  • What does MAT stand for in addiction?
  • How does MAT work?
  • What is the MAT program?
  • Does MAT cure addiction?
  • How to find an MAT program for substance abuse in Ohio.
A woman is taking a pill to represent medication assisted treatment or MAT.

What is a MAT Program?

An MAT program is a scientific approach to treating substance use disorder that combines pharmacological and behavioral interventions. Extensive research has demonstrated the effectiveness of MAT therapy which integrates medications, counseling, and behavioral therapies in treating addictions.

The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has approved three medications for the treatment of opioid use disorder and three medications for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. There are currently no medications with FDA approval for the treatment of marijuana use disorder, hallucinogen use disorder, or stimulant use disorder.

The two primary forms of MAT program are:

  • MAT addiction program for opioid use disorder
  • MAT addiction program for alcohol use disorder

MAT addiction program for opioid use disorder

Medically assisted treatment is highly effective for treating all kinds of opioid use disorders, including addictions to fentanyl, heroin, and prescription painkillers.

These are the medications used in MAT treatment for opioid addiction:

  • Methadone: Acting as a long-acting agonist, methadone binds to the same mu-opioid receptors naturally occurring in the brain as opioids, mitigating cravings and withdrawal symptoms without inducing the intense euphoria associated with opioid misuse. Methadone is typically dispensed under strict supervision at a specialized clinic or MAT facility.
  • Buprenorphine: As a partial agonist, buprenorphine activates opioid receptors in the brain, producing a milder effect than full opioid agonists. The medication alleviates withdrawal symptoms and cravings while minimizing the risk of misuse and overdose. Specially trained healthcare providers can prescribe buprenorphine in office-based settings, enhancing accessibility for individuals seeking treatment.
  • Naltrexone: Serving as an opioid antagonist, naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids in the brain. It is available in both oral and injectable forms. By preventing the euphoric effects of opioids and reducing cravings, naltrexone aids individuals in maintaining sobriety. Typically, naltrexone is utilized after the detoxification phase to support long-term recovery.

MAT Addiction Program for Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol use disorder can have devastating consequences on health, relationships, and overall well-being. MAT plays a pivotal role in supporting individuals with alcohol use disorder. These are the medications used in MAT treatment for alcohol addiction:

  • Naltrexone: This medication, also used for opioid use disorder, proves effective in addressing alcohol use disorder. By diminishing the pleasurable effects of alcohol and reducing cravings, naltrexone can help to prevent relapse. It can be administered orally or via extended-release injection.
  • Acamprosate: Acamprosate assists individuals in maintaining abstinence from alcohol by mitigating withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness. It is believed to work by normalizing imbalances in brain chemistry resulting from chronic alcohol abuse. Acamprosate is taken orally and is often prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
  • Disulfiram: Acting as a deterrent to drinking, disulfiram induces unpleasant physical reactions when alcohol is consumed. By inhibiting the enzyme responsible for alcohol metabolism, disulfiram triggers symptoms such as nausea, flushing, and rapid heartbeat. It is typically prescribed to individuals who display high motivation to abstain from alcohol.

In combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, these medications offer a multifaceted approach that addresses the complex nature of addiction and promotes sustained recovery.

A man looks out at a sunset to represent medically supervised detox.

What is MAT Sobriety?

MAT sobriety refers to a concept that recognizes the use of medications as a part of MAT (medication-assisted treatment) while maintaining a focus on achieving and maintaining sobriety. MAT sobriety acknowledges that the use of FDA-approved medications can be a valuable tool in supporting individuals on their recovery journey.

MAT sobriety recognizes that medications alone are not a substitute for comprehensive treatment but rather an integral component of a holistic approach. Alongside medications, MAT sobriety emphasizes the importance of counseling, therapy, behavioral interventions, and other supportive measures to address the psychological, emotional, and social aspects of addiction.

The goal of MAT sobriety is to help individuals reduce cravings, manage withdrawal symptoms, and stabilize their lives, enabling them to engage fully in their recovery process. It recognizes that sobriety is not solely defined by abstinence from substances but also by the improvement in overall well-being and the ability to lead a fulfilling, productive life.

MAT sobriety aims to provide individuals with the necessary support to make positive changes, develop healthy coping mechanisms, and achieve long-term recovery. It promotes a balanced and personalized approach to treatment that takes into account the individual’s unique needs, preferences, and circumstances.

Although MAT sobriety is a term used to highlight the integration of medications within the broader context of recovery, it should not be viewed as a contradiction to the goal of sobriety but rather as a comprehensive approach that recognizes the benefits of combining medications with other evidence-based interventions to support individuals in their journey towards lasting sobriety and improved quality of life.

Is MAT Effective?

All MAT drugs have obtained FDA approval, ensuring that MAT programs are driven by clinical expertise and firmly rooted in evidence-based practices.

Research confirms that the simultaneous delivery of MAT and complementary therapies significantly reduces the likelihood of relapse, enhances treatment retention, and effectively addresses both alcohol use disorder and opioid use disorder.

MAT has proven to be a highly effective approach in reducing the necessity for inpatient detoxification among individuals struggling with addiction to heroin and prescription opioid painkillers.

Beyond this, numerous studies highlight the advantages of medication-assisted treatment in combating alcohol addiction.

At the core of any MAT program lies a singular objective: achieving sustained recovery and preventing relapse.

The research-backed benefits of MAT addiction recovery include:

  • Reducing the utilization of illicit opiates.
  • Diminishing criminal activity among those diagnosed with opioid use disorder.
  • Increasing retention in addiction treatment programs.
  • Improving rates of patient survival.
  • Enhancing birth outcomes for pregnant women grappling with substance use disorder.
  • Assisting patients in securing and maintaining employment.
  • Lowering the risk of hepatitis and HIV/AIDS transmission.
a woman looks out at a sunset to represent Medication-Assisted Treatment at Ohio Recovery Centers.

Get MAT Treatment at Ohio Recovery Centers

At Ohio Recovery Centers in Cincinnati, OH, our focus lies in providing specialized addiction treatment programs that incorporate medication-assisted treatment for those struggling with alcohol, prescription medication, or illicit drug dependencies.

Extensive research reveals that most mild and moderate addictions can be effectively addressed through intensive outpatient treatment, rivaling the outcomes achieved through residential rehab. By opting for outpatient treatment, you gain the advantage of enhanced flexibility and affordability, all while receiving the same level of exceptional care. At our Cincinnati rehab facility, we offer a range of programs tailored to meet your unique needs:

  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • Dual diagnosis treatment programs (targeting co-occurring disorders)

At Ohio Recovery Centers, our treatment programs integrate pharmacological, behavioral, and holistic therapies, ensuring a comprehensive and evidence-based approach to recovery. Upon completing your treatment, you will not only possess vital relapse prevention strategies and coping techniques but will also have access to ongoing therapy if needed.For immediate assistance and to embark on your journey to recovery, reach out to our admissions team today at (877) 679-2132. Your well-being is our utmost priority.

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Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
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Christopher Glover CDCA

My name is Christopher Glover, and I am from Cincinnati, Ohio. I am currently in school and working to grow in competence to better support our community. As a recovering individual I know the struggles that you or a loved one can go through and that there is help for anything you may be struggling with.

The hardest part is asking for help and we are here as a team to best support you and your decision to start your journey towards a better future. Connect with Chris on LinkedIn

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Amanda Kuchenberg PRS CDCA

I recently joined Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers as a Clinical Case Manager. I am originally from Wisconsin but settled in the Cincinnati area in my early 20s.  My career started in the fashion industry but quickly changed as I searched to find my drive and passion through helping others who struggle with addiction. 

As someone who is also in recovery, I wanted to provide hope, share lived experience, and support others on their journey.  I currently have my Peer Recovery Support Supervision Certification along with my CDCA and plan to continue my education with University of Cincinnati so I can continue to aid in the battle against substance addiction. Connect with Amanda on LinkedIn.

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Patrick McCamley LCDC III

 Patrick McCamley (Clinical Therapist) is a Cincinnati native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2019. Patrick received his bachelors degree in psychology from University of Cincinnati in 2021 and received his LCDC III (Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2022. Patrick has worked in Clinical Operations, Clinical Case Management, and Clinical Therapy throughout his career.

Patrick has tremendous empathy and compassion for the recovery community, being in recovery himself since 2018. Patrick is uniquely qualified to be helpful because of the specific combination of his academic background and his own experience in recovery.

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Bill Zimmerman CDCA

Bill Zimmerman is a Greater Cincinnati Area native who has worked in substance use disorder/co-occurring mental health disorder treatment since 2018. Bill received his (Chemical Dependency Counselor Assistant) license from the Ohio Chemical Dependency Professionals Board in 2020.

Bill has worked in Clinical Operations in both support and supervision, and Program facilitating and 12 step recovery support during his career. Bill has a passion for the recovery community, having been in recovery himself since 1982. Connect with Bill on LinkedIn

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Taylor Lilley CDCA, PRS

Growing up in Louisiana with addiction running rampant on both sides of my family. A life away from drugs and alcohol seemed impossible for someone like me. I remember what it was like sitting across from someone thinking there is no way they could ever understand what I was going through.

Sharing my experience offers a credibility and a certain type of trust with clients that only someone who has walked down this road can illustrate. To immerse myself further into the field of addiction, I am currently studying at Cincinnati State for Human and Social Services.  I hope I never forget where I came from, if I can do it, so can you!

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Thomas Hunter LSW

Hello my name is Thomas Hunter. I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. I am a licensed social worker.In my scope of practice I have worked in the areas of mental health and recovery for thirty years. The clients I have worked with in my career have ranged in age from seven to seventy.

I strive each day to serve my purpose of helping those in need and I believe I do so by utilizing all of my experiences to accomplish my goal of supporting those who desire to establish their sobriety and maintain it in their recovery. Connect with Thomas on LinkedIn.

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Mary D.Porter,LICDC

 My name is Mary D. Porter. I received my Masters of Social Work in 2008 from The University of Cincinnati. I received My Licensed Independent Chemical Dependency Counselor Licensure in 2001. I retired from The Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Center on April 14, 2014. Currently, I am the Associate Clinical Director for The Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers in Cincinnati.. Due to the fourth wave of the Opioid Epidemic in 2019,  I decided to enter back into the workforce to assist the addicted population.

The overdoses were astounding and I wanted to help.  I consider myself  to be an advocate for the addicted population. My compassion, resilience, empathy, wisdom, knowledge, experience and  love I have for this forgotten population goes beyond words. I consider what I do for the addicted population as a calling versus a “career,” because I too was once an “addict and alcoholic.” Today I am 45.5 years alcohol and substance free.

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Ben Lemmon LCDC III

Hello, my name is Ben Lemmon, and I’m the Vice President and Clinical Director at Ohio Community Health Recovery Centers. I’ve been working in the addiction and mental health field since 2013 and decided to enter the field after overcoming my own challenges with addiction.

When I first meet a client, I always explain to them that the reason we are meeting is because they are not capable of obtaining or maintaining sobriety, and my goal is to create a person that can maintain sobriety. I believe a person’s personality is made up of their thoughts, feelings and actions and my job is to help clients identify the thoughts, feelings and actions that have them disconnected from recovery and provide them with the tools to live a healthy and happy life. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn