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Medication-Assisted Treatment Programs

The acronym MAT for medication-assisted treatment concept represented by wooden letter tiles

Published: September 14, 2023

When it comes to the world of drug and alcohol rehab programs, there is a wide range of treatment options. One commonly used, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders is medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Based on your individual needs, MAT may be the best course of treatment for you. MAT treats severe addictions to alcohol, opioids, and other substances of abuse by providing treatment for withdrawal symptoms alongside therapies for a well-rounded recovery approach.

Scroll on to learn about MAT programs, the cost of MAT, what kinds of addictions are treated in MAT, and more.

What Are Medication-Assisted Treatment Programs?

MAT programs are addiction treatment programs that use U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medications to help treat addiction.

Specifically, these medications aid in recovery by helping to treat withdrawal symptoms, especially those that may be long-lasting.

By reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings, people in treatment are able to focus on the other components of their program. Individuals who have highly severe addictions may be on a selected medication for an extended period of time, which is to be expected.

It’s important to understand, however, that medication is only one part of recovery that MAT programs address.

Other services should be used in combination with medication to treat addiction. Many people may also need several levels of addiction treatment such as inpatient, outpatient, or a detoxification program before they can start a life in recovery.

Addictions Treated in MAT

MAT programs are typically used to treat opioid addictions (like oxycodone) and alcohol use disorder (AUD).

How MAT Works

MAT works by treating withdrawal symptoms caused by opioid dependence. This lessens distractions during treatment and decreases cravings.

The medications do their job by attaching to opioid receptors and partially or fully blocking the euphoric effects of opioids on the brain. They’re called partial or full agonists. Your treatment providers will choose a medication that is best suited for you.

Phases of MAT

MAT is broken into three phases which include induction, stabilization, and maintenance.

1. Induction

The first phase, induction, usually lasts a few days. Induction requires you to make an appointment and stop using for 16-48 hours prior to the appointment to induce withdrawal.

When you arrive, your provider team will assess your withdrawal symptoms to determine your medication dosage and you’ll be given the first dose, which may be adjusted.

You’ll be given a prescription for your determined dosage and be required to come in for follow-up visits over the next few days which will include drug screening tests.

2. Stabilization

The second phase, stabilization, lasts several weeks. This phase is all about finding a dose that is best for you.

You may be referred to other recovery services like counseling during this phase and will need to communicate with your provider if you start to experience withdrawal symptoms or cravings.

You’ll also set treatment goals. Once you’ve achieved these goals and are showing signs of progress, your dosage may be decreased.

3. Maintenance

The third and final phase, maintenance, varies greatly from person to person. In other words, you’ll be in the phase for as long as needed.

You will continue to take your determined dosage and check in with your healthcare provider. Many experts recommend people continue MAT for 12-18 months.

When you and your provider decide it is time to discontinue treatment, your dose will be slowly tapered until you are no longer on medication.

Types of MAT Programs

MAT is used in a variety of alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs. These may include detox programs, inpatient programs, or outpatient programs.

MAT in Detox

Detoxification or detox is a service that helps rid your body of the addictive substance by helping you through withdrawal and monitoring your vitals.

Detox is often the first step of recovery and prepares people for a structured treatment program by getting them off the addictive substance.

MAT medications are commonly used during this service to reduce withdrawal symptoms, as it can be an intimidating process for people who are addicted to more severe drugs such as alcohol or opioids.

Outpatient MAT Programs

Outpatient programs are a step down from inpatient programs and usually require the individual to come into a facility several days a week for treatment, but allows them to continue to live at home. Some outpatient programs may use MAT.

Outpatient MAT is not for everyone, as it provides less supervision. People who have completed more intensive programs or need to be on medication for an extended period of time are typically the best candidates for this type of MAT program.

Inpatient MAT

Inpatient programs, which provide 24-hour care in a designated facility, are very heavily supervised and structured programs that many people start with in their recovery.

These programs may implement MAT as part of a much more comprehensive program. MAT is often used in inpatient treatment alongside several other services such as therapies, counseling, and more.

Services Offered in MAT Programs

MAT programs offer a myriad of services, which will be dependent on where you receive treatment, the facility you choose, and your individual needs.

Medication Administration

Most importantly, MAT includes medication administration. There are several different methods of administration that you may encounter.

Depending on the medication your provider chooses, you may receive your medication in the form of:

  • Pills
  • Sublingual tabs
  • Long-acting injections
  • Sublingual films
  • Liquid

Where you receive the medication is mainly dependent on what type of program you choose.

That being said, you may receive the medication:

  • At home
  • In a clinic
  • During detox
  • In an inpatient treatment facility

Your dosage will be tailored to your needs, however doses are measured in milligrams and have recommended minimums and maximums.


Counseling is another important part of MAT programs. It is typically done on an individual or group basis, many times both. Some programs even offer family counseling.

In counseling sessions, you’ll work through your emotions surrounding addiction and treatment. Group counseling can help provide a sense of comradery and understanding.

This type of addiction treatment service is important not only for processing your thoughts and feelings, but also for finding an outlet and building a “toolkit” for healthy coping strategies.

Behavioral Therapies

Behavioral therapies are also very common in MAT programs. Medications are given in combination with counseling and therapies to ensure a comprehensive approach to recovery.

There are several behavioral health therapy options but some common ones include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Matrix Model

FDA-Approved Medications For MAT

There are several medications approved by the FDA for use in MAT. Some are used for opioid addiction while others are used for alcohol addiction.

MAT Medications for Opioid Treatment

MAT medications for opioid treatment can be broken into three categories: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. However, there are many products within these categories.

Medications approved for opioid treatment include:

  • Brixadi
  • Bunavail
  • Cassipa
  • Dolophine
  • Methadose
  • Probuphine
  • Sublocade
  • Suboxone
  • Subutex
  • Vivitrol
  • Zubsolv

MAT Medications for Alcohol Treatment

There are fewer medications approved for MAT for alcohol addiction than there are for opioid addiction.

Medications approved for alcohol treatment include:

  • Acamprosate
  • Disulfiram
  • Naltrexone
  • Neurontin
  • Topamax

MAT Medications for Other Addictions

Though MAT is almost always used for opioid or alcohol addiction, some of the medications listed above may be used in other addictions such as heroin or cocaine if your doctor suggests it.

What to Expect in a Medication-Assisted Treatment Session

What you can expect during an MAT session will depend on the type of medication you are receiving, the method of use, and whether you’re receiving inpatient or outpatient care.

Here’s an example of what you can expect during an MAT session:

  • First, you may begin with detox, if needed. This will help you prepare for MAT and allow your provider to analyze your withdrawal symptoms.
  • Once you come in for your MAT session, your provider will determine what medication you should begin as well as the dosage.
  • Your first dose will be administered based on the method required. Some may be injected, some will be pills, others may be liquid, etc.
  • Your provider will continue to monitor you and your symptoms and adjust your dosage if necessary.
  • In subsequent sessions, you will meet with your provider to discuss how you are feeling and if you have had any cravings, withdrawal symptoms, or feel at risk of relapse. During these sessions your provider can determine whether your dosage should be adjusted.
  • MAT sessions also often involve goal-setting and discussing your progress in achieving these goals.
  • Based on whether you’re in inpatient or outpatient treatment, you will either return home, or move on to your next treatment service in the facility.

Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment

The benefits of MAT are many, and may vary a bit from person to person.

Common MAT benefits include:

  • Improved physical health
  • Improved mental health
  • Decreased risk of opioid overdose
  • Improved relationships and social life
  • Lower risk of relapse
    Improved professional life
  • New relationships or hobbies

In other words, MAT programs can improve your life in virtually any area. By treating your addiction, you will see many positive changes.

The MAT Controversy

There is some controversy surrounding MAT, as some people wonder whether the use of medications just replaces one addiction with another. In short, no, this is not the case.

MAT works by making it possible for people to function without drugs for enough time to participate in treatment and begin their recovery.

MAT medications help stave off withdrawal symptoms to make the journey toward recovery a little smoother.

Physical dependence, which is a phenomenon in which the body requires an addictive substance to function properly, is what causes withdrawal symptoms and cravings. In turn, dependence keeps people coming back to the addictive substance even though they know it’s bad for them.

Without the added variable of physical dependence, it is easier for people to resist relapsing. This is not to say that MAT cures addiction, as it is unfortunately only treatable, but to say it can greatly aid individuals in achieving lasting recovery.

Cost of Medication-Assisted Treatment

The cost of an MAT program is contingent on several factors such as where you live, the facility you choose, your insurance company and insurance plan, the kind of program you need, etc.

That being said, there are some average costs that can help you get a better understanding of what you can expect to pay.

For example, methadone treatment can cost anywhere from $5,897 to $18,468.

It’s important to keep in mind there are many payment options. Most commonly, people receive partial coverage through their insurance company, though the amount will depend on your plan specifics.

Other options may include scholarships, sliding scale payments, or financing options.

Find MAT Programs Near You

MAT can be an incredibly useful tool alongside other addiction treatment services, and it is important to consider when seeking treatment.

Whether you need inpatient or outpatient treatment, MAT is a widely used recovery program that will likely be available to you.

If you or a loved one is ready to take the first step toward recovery, give our helpline a call today.

Medication-Assisted Treatment FAQs

What to look for in an MAT program?

It’s important to know what to look for when seeking an MAT program.

Some basic characteristics to look out for include:

  • Qualified providers to prescribe your medication
  • Counseling and therapy access either through the program or referrals
  • Patient agreements or waivers for consent, treatment plans, and other patient matters
  • Positive reviews and testimonials
  • Certifications and accreditations
  • Professional memberships

By looking for these characteristics, you can ensure that the facility you choose is qualified to provide the care you need. All of these variables can indicate a reliable and reputable treatment center.

How successful is MAT in addiction recovery?

MAT has encouraging success rates.

Some MAT facts:

  • MAT with FDA-approved medications for opioid addiction reduces death rate by 50% in people with addiction.
  • At two years, retention of sobriety is seen in up to 90% of patients receiving MAT.
  • MAT greatly decreases the risk of relapse.
  • MAT is effective in decreasing the risk of HIV and other diseases.
  • MAT effectively prevents overdoses.

Can you recover from opioids without MAT?

Though it is possible to recover from opioid addiction without MAT, MAT is considered the best treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD).

This is due to the great success rates in treating opioid use disorder and decrease in relapse. Most people continue MAT for extended periods of time which allows them to slowly learn to function without opioid use.

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