Common Misconceptions of MAT Treatment

What is MAT treatment? There are several misconceptions about MAT treatment despite its effectiveness. Read on to learn more.

Table of Contents

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a holistic treatment approach for substance use disorder using the combination of medications and behavioral therapies or counseling. All medications used in Medically Assisted Treatment are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Medication-assisted treatment programs are medically supervised and are designed to fit the needs of each patient. 1

Medication-assisted therapy is primarily used to help people with opioid use disorder but is also effective for alcohol addiction. All medication-assisted treatment programs must follow the medication-assisted treatment guidelines for opioid use disorder. 2

Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Work?

There have been several gaps in the studies on determining the ideal medically assisted treatment dose for patients. The essential takeaway is that each medication-assisted treatment drug has its unique dangers and benefits. Regardless of the drug you are administered, medication-assisted treatment pros and cons still exist. Methadone overdoses, for example, can result in death, whereas buprenorphine or naltrexone overdoses cannot.

Regardless, the effectiveness of MAT for addiction cannot be denied. The medication-assisted treatment statistics show that MAT treatment is the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder. 12 steppers, however, have placed stigmatization on the use of MAT for drug addiction. You should note that while 12-step groups are helpful, MAT is effective in preventing relapse and continued misuse. 12 steps with medication-assisted treatment can be a win-win as you can benefit immensely from both. 3

Success Rate

The takeaway is that despite some seemingly hurdles in MAT treatment, the success rate has been encouraging thus far, indicating that MAT does work.

What Medications Are Included in MAT?

The medications used in medically assisted treatment depend on the substance of abuse. Any medication used must be given and supervised by a medical practitioner. For opioid use disorder, three drugs are primarily used in MAT treatment. They will be detailed below.1


Methadone is a long-acting opioid agonist approved by FDA to be used in MAT for addiction to opioids. Methadone is also used for pain management. 4

As an opioid agonist, it binds to opioid receptors to block the effects of opioids, reduce craving, and help ease withdrawal symptoms. When taken following your doctor’s prescription, methadone is safe and effective.


Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which means it does the same work as methadone but is less potent.

The medication-assisted treatment benefits of Buprenorphine use include reduced effects of physical dependence on opioids, reduced chances of misuse, and increased safety in overdose cases. 5


People suffering from opioid, or alcohol use disorder can benefit from MAT. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) explains how Naltrexone works by binding and blocking opioid receptors to reduce cravings and block the euphoric effects of opioids. Naltrexone, however, is not an opioid. It is not addictive, and it poses no risk of withdrawal symptoms. 6

What Does MAT Therapy Work for?

MAT treatment is relevant for the following processes:

Alcohol Detox

If your body is dependent on alcohol, cleansing your body from the harmful substance (detoxifying) to begin treatment can cause some serious withdrawal symptoms. Although there aren’t many drugs that can stop withdrawal symptoms, some drugs like Acamprosate and Naltrexone can be given after detox to halt or reduce cravings for alcohol.

Stimulant Detox

MAT medications are used in the detox process to help manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. This helps patients stay in the treatment plan longer. When combined with behavioral therapy, the chances of maintaining sobriety are greatly increased.

Opioid Detox

Opiates are highly addictive. When your body becomes dependent on them, they can cause severe withdrawal symptoms when you stop using them. This makes detox a problem. Opioid medically assisted treatment is relevant in the detox process of treating opioid addiction to help manage the withdrawal symptoms.

Buprenorphine and Naloxone

Buprenorphine and Naloxone are popular medications for safe opioid detox. These two drugs are active components of Suboxone tablets, commonly used in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.

Side Effects

Common Buprenorphine and Naloxone side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Withdrawal
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Fast heartbeats
  • Nausea

This drug combination should only be used as directed by a medical professional. Methadone and Naltrexone are also used to aid opioid detox.

MAT Effectiveness

Medication-assisted treatment outcomes from a study reported reduced substance use, better physical and mental health, and fewer addictive symptoms after six months of medication-assisted treatment for drug addiction, particularly opioid addiction. The success rate of medication-assisted treatment from this study proves that MAT treatment is effective. 7

Other studies have also reported positive medication-assisted treatment outcomes, which contribute to the growing body of research that proves the effectiveness of medication-assisted treatment for drug addiction and alcoholism. 8

MAT Benefits

The goal of medication-assisted therapy is full recovery, which includes the ability to lead a healthy, drug-free life. Some medication-assisted treatment benefits include:
  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment

How Do Medication-Assisted Treatment Drugs Work?

The way medication-assisted therapy medications work depends on the medication. However, the medications used in MAT recovery generally restore brain chemistry, prevent the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, ease physiological cravings, and normalize bodily functions without the negative and euphoric effects of the substance consumed.

Do the MAT Medications Cure Me?

MAT medications are just one-half of MAT treatment. The other half, which is just as important, is the psychotherapy and counseling part.

Medications can help you recover from addiction, but therapy will help you maintain the recovery because factors that contribute to the addiction are addressed with therapy.

Common Misconceptions of MAT Treatment

With the outstanding success rate of medication-assisted treatment, why is there resistance to using the treatment approach? This is partly due to the public’s misconceptions and myths that dissuade people from using it. Here, we debunk all the misconceptions and myths concerning MAT treatment.

MAT Is Trading One Addiction for Another

The medications used in MAT recovery are to aid treatment and minimize relapses. It is not in any way trading one addiction for another. All the MAT treatment medications are FDA-approved and are safe and effective when taken as prescribed by the doctor.

MAT Will Make You High

MAT medications reduce drug cravings and help avoid relapse without giving the user a high when correctly prescribed. When you follow the prescription, MAT provides stability in different areas of your life.

MAT Is a Short-Term Treatment

MAT treatment works best as a long-term treatment. People typically stay on MAT treatment for a year or more.

MAT Increases the Risk Of Overdose

MAT aims to get people to stop taking harmful substances; in most cases, it has been proven effective. In other words, MAT treatment does not increase the risk of overdose.

MAT Is Not “True Recovery” and Is a Crutch

The fact remains that MAT treatment aims to help people gain and maintain sobriety. Different studies attest to this. 

Insurance Doesn’t Cover MAT

Most insurances cover treatment for substance abuse and mental illnesses, including MAT. You can check with your insurance to know your options.

MAT Is Expensive

When compared to the cost of getting the substance of abuse, the cost of MAT is relatively cheaper.

MAT Only Delays and Disrupts True Recovery

When properly followed through, MAT is an essential part of the recovery process.

Pregnant Women Can’t Receive MAT

Currently, there is evidence against medication-assisted treatment and pregnancy. It has been proven safe for pregnant women. Also, going cold turkey while pregnant is not recommended as it can cause complications. The only other safe option is MAT treatment. You should erase the myths of medication-assisted treatment and pregnancy not going well together.

How Long Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Last?

The length of time you stay on MAT depends on your unique need. It could be for months or years. To determine the period, your doctor will consider your physical and psychological dependence on the substance of abuse, the type, and dosage of the MAT medications, how you respond to them, and if you can establish a dependable support structure in aftercare.

Does Insurance Cover Medication-Assisted Treatment?

According to the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), all long-term insurance plans must provide coverage for pre-existing conditions, such as substance use disorder, when medically necessary. If the ACA applies to your plan and your doctor can certify that MAT is medically required for your condition, your insurance company will cover it.

Get Medication-Assisted Treatment at Soledad House

Now more than ever, with the ongoing opioid epidemic in the US, medication-assisted treatment centers are needed to help individuals suffering from opioid use disorder or alcoholism.

Soledad House is one of the accredited and leading medication-assisted treatment centers in the US. With our qualified staff and personalized treatment approach, we can help you walk out of addiction until you achieve sobriety. Contact us today to discuss a unique treatment plan for you.