What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?
By Thao Le, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
According to the Food and Drug Administration, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies for the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD). MAT has been proven to be a safe and effective treatment method in sustaining relapse and preventing cravings and withdrawal symptoms in individuals with OUD.
Opioids are a class of pain-relieving drugs that include hydrocodone (Norco), or oxycodone (Percocet) which are available by prescription to help control acute pain and illegal drugs such as heroin, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.
When individuals take opiates, they experience an increased sense of pleasure which motivates them to take opiates repeatedly.
Opiate use disorder is a medical condition that develops when an individual:
- Takes larger amounts or taking drugs over a longer period than intended.
- Experiences Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control opioid use.
- Spends a great deal of time obtaining or using the opioid or recovering from its effects.
- Craves, or a strong desire or urge to use opioids
- Problems fulfilling obligations at work, school or home.
- Continues opioid use despite having recurring social or interpersonal problems.
- Gives up or reducing activities because of opioid use.
- Uses opioids in physically hazardous situations such as driving while under the influence of opiates.
- Continues opioid use despite ongoing physical or psychological problems likely to have been caused or worsened by opioids.
- Reaches a level of tolerance (i.e., need for increased amounts or diminished effect with continued use of the same amount)
When individuals do not use opiates consistent with medical and legal guidelines, they are at increased risk for drowsiness, decreased breathing and heart rate and death.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three MAT medications for the treatment of opiate use disorder – methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone with the purpose of reducing cravings, withdrawal symptoms and pleasure from using opiates.
MAT at HPC
At Health Partnership Clinic, our waiver-trained MAT providers prescribe buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) and naltrexone and collaborate with our substance use counselor to deliver a whole-person approach to treatment. We believe that patients can benefit just as much from counseling as they do from medication through ongoing communication, identification of goals, enhancing coping skills and relapse prevention. Additionally, we offer weekly groups that allow individuals to share their experiences and serve as a source of support for one other in their recovery journeys.
Per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, MAT improves patient survival, decreases illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders, increases patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment and improves birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant.
Watch our video to learn more about the medication, Suboxone: