Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

woman doctor medication assisted treatment prescriptions

The journey to recovery from substance use disorders can be a daunting one, fraught with obstacles and setbacks. However, recent advances in the field of addiction medicine have provided a beacon of hope to many. One such advance is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT), a comprehensive treatment approach that combines behavioral therapy with FDA-approved medications. This article delves into the benefits of MAT, highlighting the key medications used and the research supporting their efficacy.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) have proven to be effective in reducing illicit drug use, improving treatment retention, and decreasing overdose deaths.

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Medication-Assisted Treatment involves the use of medications in conjunction with counseling and behavioral therapies. It offers a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of substance use disorders, particularly opioid and alcohol addiction. By reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms, MAT provides a stable foundation upon which individuals can build and sustain their recovery.

Key Medications


  • Usage: Predominantly used to treat opioid addiction.
  • How it works: Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it partially stimulates the opioid receptors, reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. When combined with Naloxone (an opioid antagonist), the resulting formulation (Suboxone) reduces the potential for misuse.
  • Research: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that individuals on buprenorphine maintenance therapy had lower overdose rates and were more likely to remain in treatment compared to those not receiving the medication.


  • Usage: An opioid antagonist used to reverse opioid overdoses.
  • How it works: It rapidly binds to opioid receptors, displacing opioids and reversing their effects.
  • Research: The World Health Organization cites multiple studies showing that increased access to Naloxone significantly reduces opioid overdose deaths.


  • It is a medication that is used in the treatment of opioid overdose and alcohol dependence.

Acamprosate (Campral)

  • Usage: Primarily used to treat alcohol addiction.
  • How it works: It restores the balance in the brain that has been altered by alcohol use. This helps reduce the urge to drink.
  • Research: A review in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews concluded that Acamprosate significantly increased the number of individuals who remained abstinent from alcohol.

Disulfiram (Antabuse)

  • Usage: Used in the treatment of chronic alcoholism.
  • How it works: It interferes with the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol, leading to unpleasant effects when alcohol is consumed, thereby acting as a deterrent.
  • Research: A study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that those using Disulfiram had a higher rate of continuous abstinence from alcohol compared to those not on the medication.


  • A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) underscores that MAT decreases opioid overdose deaths, increases treatment retention, and reduces illicit opioid use.
  • The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) affirms that MAT is an effective strategy to keep individuals in treatment and reduce illicit drug use and its associated health and social costs.

The rise of MAT represents a significant step forward in the fight against addiction. By combining the strengths of behavioral therapies with the stabilizing effects of medications, MAT offers a holistic and effective approach to addiction treatment. At Addiction Gap, we believe that embracing and promoting MAT is pivotal to closing the addiction treatment gap and providing individuals with the best chance at lasting recovery.

Study reference

Marilyn D. Skinner et al;

See why medication-assisted treatment is so important.