Medication-assisted therapy (MAT) is a treatment approach that combines medication with behavioral therapies to help individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs) achieve and maintain recovery. In this article, we’ll explore the types of medications used, the success rates of this approach, whether it’s covered by insurance, and how it compares to other modalities like cognitive-behavioral (CBT) and motivational enhancement (MET).
There are three main types of medications:
- opioid agonists
- opioid antagonists
- partial agonists
Each works in a different way to help individuals with Substance Use Disorder (SU) achieve and maintain recovery.
- Opioid agonists, such as methadone and buprenorphine, work by binding to the same receptors in the brain that opioids like heroin and prescription painkillers bind to. This can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making it easier for individuals to stay in process and avoid relapse.
- Opioid antagonists, such as naltrexone, work by blocking the effects of opioids in the brain. This can help prevent relapse by making it impossible for individuals to get high if they use opioids.
- Partial agonists, such as suboxone, work by partially activating the same receptors in the brain that opioids bind to. This can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms while also making it harder for individuals to get high if they use opioids.
Research has shown that it can be highly effective in treating opioid use disorders. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), individuals who receive this protocol are more likely to:
- Remain in a program
- Have improved social functioning
- Experience fewer overdose deaths
(than those who do not receive MAT)
The success rates can vary depending on the individual and the type of medication used. For example, studies have shown that methadone can be highly effective in reducing opioid use and improving outcomes. Buprenorphine has also been shown to be effective, particularly when combined with behavioral therapies. Naltrexone, while less commonly used, has also been shown to be effective in preventing relapse.
Insurance coverage can vary depending on the individual’s insurance plan and the specific medication being used. However, many insurance plans do cover it, including Medicaid and Medicare. Additionally, some states have laws that require insurance companies to cover it.
Comparison to Other Modalities
It is just one of several treatment modalities that can be used to treat substance use disorders. Other modalities include CBT, MET, and 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
While all of these modalities can be effective, it has been shown to have some unique benefits. For example, it can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making it easier for individuals to stay in treatment and avoid relapse. Additionally, it can be particularly helpful for individuals with severe opioid use disorders who have not been successful with other modalities.
MAT is a highly effective approach for individuals with substance use disorders. By combining medication with behavioral therapies, it can help individuals achieve and maintain recovery from opioid use disorders. If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible.