10 FAQs About Medication-Assisted Treatment

What is medication-assisted treatment for addiction? Are you really sober if you use long-term taper medication? These and other common questions about MAT programs are at the core of the great debate around medication and sobriety. While there are many paths to sobriety and schools of thought within the recovery community, much of the discourse around medication-assisted treatment is rooted in stigma and misinformation. 

Let’s break down what medication-assisted treatment really is, how it is used, and the benefits for some people seeking help for drug and alcohol addiction by answering the most common questions we see around MAT.

  1. Do MAT medications get you high?

The short answer is: no. Medications approved by the FDA for use in long-term tapers as part of an addiction treatment regimen are opioid antagonists. This means they counteract the psychological effects of opioids, preventing the desired high even if you do use opioids while on the MAT medications. 

  1. So you’re just on medication forever? Doesn’t that mean you’re not really sober?

One of the most commonly cited arguments against Medication-Assisted Treatment is the idea that it just swaps one form of drug dependence for another. This is not the case. MAT programs are an extended taper, but they do have an end point. Additionally, because the medications don’t produce any mind-altering effects, clients in MAT programs’ sobriety is just as valid as those who followed more traditional recovery plans.

  1. Don’t MAT programs just drag out the detox process?

Often the most deterring aspect of recovery is anxiety or fear around detox and not wanting to suffer through withdrawal symptoms. While most detox programs use some form of medication to help ease withdrawal symptoms, traditional programs are relatively short and may last as little as three days. This short-term detox period is not ideal for everyone. MAT programs offer an alternative to traditional detox that may be more beneficial for some people. Those who have a history of long-term substance abuse, polysubstance use, or who are at high risk for health complications benefit from the long-term taper of a Medication Assisted Treatment program. 

  1. What happens if someone relapses while in a MAT program?

The risk of relapse in a MAT program is very low, but not zero. Though the medications used during Medication-Assisted Treatment offset any potential psychedelic effects of certain drugs, they are not effective against all forms of substance use. Our treatment facilities combine medical intervention with behavioral health care and support to help our clients navigate the challenges of early recovery, including dealing with cravings and urges. If a relapse does occur, our team of experienced and knowledgeable recovery specialists will help to reassess and adjust your treatment plan to better accommodate your needs.

  1. Who qualifies for Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Medication-Assisted Treatment programs are not for everyone. We do not force our clients to undergo MAT without their full understanding and consent. In fact, only clients who meet a specific criteria as determined by a staff physician can enter our Medication-Assisted Treatment programs. These criteria include:

  • A history of relapse
  • High risk or history of overdose
  • Pre-existing chronic pain conditions
  • History of long-term substance abuse

It’s important to remember that even if you meet these criteria, you may still choose to forgo Medication-Assisted Treatment. In the end, it is simply a tool to help you on your journey of recovery.

  1. How does MAT care benefit people with opioid use disorders?

Medication-Assisted Treatment is primarily used to help people recovering from opioid addiction. It works in two ways: 

  • By latching onto and blocking the opioid receptors in the brain, it can prevent potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms and discourage continued abuse by preventing the desired effects of opioid misuse. 
  • Using medications to manage the physical aspects of withdrawal allows our MAT clients to truly focus on absorbing all there is to learn during treatment for lasting recovery. Studies have shown that long-term taper programs may substantially improve treatment outcomes for people with opioid use disorders.
  1. How do MAT programs even work? What can I expect during treatment?

Our MAT programs are individualized based on the needs of each client. Typically we limit medication-assisted treatment to clients in our inpatient rehab programs for optimal effectiveness and to reduce risk of relapse. During this time you will continue participating in group and individual therapy as part of your treatment regimen while also under the care and supervision of our medical team. Together with our staff physician, our nursing staff will monitor your progress and administer any prescribed medications. This helps to ensure your safety and prevent any risk of developing new substance dependence.

Understanding Addiction and Stigma
  1. What medications are used for MAT programs? Are they actually safe?

Niznik Behavioral Health primarily uses Suboxone, Subutex, and Vivitrol for Medication-Assisted Treatment. While both Suboxone and Subutex are considered Schedule III controlled substances, they do not pose the same risks or dangers as Schedule I and II drugs. Schedule III controlled substances are specifically recognized for their medicinal benefits and pose low risk of physical dependence. In the case of Suboxone and Subutex this is because they contain low levels of buprenorphine. 

If followed correctly, the risks of Medication-Assisted Treatment programs are incredibly low. As previously stated, opioid antagonists counteract the effects of opioid-based substances, helping to reduce risk of overdose even if a relapse should occur. Additionally, because Niznik Behavioral Health MAT programs are conducted during inpatient care, the risk of overdose, misuse, or relapse are further diminished.

  1. Can I do an outpatient MAT program? 

In some cases, you may be able to participate in a MAT program during outpatient care at a Niznik Behavioral Health facility. This is determined on a case by case basis and may require you to travel to one of our local facilities to receive your medication under supervision of our treatment team. You can discuss your needs and our treatment options by contacting our admissions team today.

  1. How much do MAT programs cost?

Medication-Assisted Treatment program costs vary depending on a few factors. Your insurance coverage, deductibles, level of care, and other care needs all contribute to your final out-of-pocket costs. Thankfully, Niznik Behavioral Health accepts most major insurance providers and has other payment options in place to help make recovery more accessible for everyone. You can learn more about insurance for rehab treatment here, or call us today and let us help you understand your options.

Do you have more questions about how Medication-Assisted Treatment works? Don’t hesitate to give us a call! We’ll gladly answer all your questions so you can make the best decision for you and your future.


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