What Is Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), And How Does It Help in Addiction Recovery?

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) New Jersey

What Is Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

What is medication assisted treatment? Medication assisted treatment (MAT) is a method of treating addiction that combines medication with counseling and behavioral therapies.

It is primarily used to treat opioid addiction, which has become a major public health crisis in recent years. In fact, more than 106,000 US citizens died of drug overdoses in 2021.1 And, more than 80,000 deaths among them involved opioid use.2

What is Medication Assisted Treatment Effectiveness?

What is medication assisted treatment effectivness? MAT has been proven to be an effective treatment for opioid addiction.

It reduces the risk of overdose, improves retention in treatment, and decreases the likelihood of relapse. MAT uses FDA-approved medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.

These medications work by reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with opioid addiction.3

What to Expect From This Article

In this article we’ll look at the benefits of medication assisted treatment, what to expect during treatment, and how to find help. 

Now that you know the answer to the question “what is medication assisted treatment?”, let’s see how it differs from other treatments.

What is Medication Assisted Treatment Like Compared to Traditional Treatment?

What is medication assisted treatment like vs. traditional treatment? Traditional addiction treatment involves one or more of the following: detox, counseling, behavioral therapies, and support groups. 

Medication assisted treatment uses medication in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies.

Here’s a more detailed look at how MAT differs from traditional addiction treatment:

Use of Medications

In medication assisted treatment, medications are used as a part of the treatment process. Medications work to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms, helping individuals manage their addiction.
In contrast, traditional addiction treatment may not always use medication as a primary component.

Cravings and Withdrawal Symptoms

One of the biggest advantages of MAT is that it can help to reduce cravings and lessen withdrawal symptoms. 

This is important because cravings and withdrawal symptoms can be major triggers for relapse. By reducing these symptoms, MAT can help to improve the chances of long-term recovery.

Traditional addiction treatment may help with withdrawal symptoms, but it may not be as effective at managing cravings. MAT, on the other hand, can be highly effective at reducing cravings and helping individuals stay in recovery.

What is Medication Assisted Treatment’s Comprehensive Approach?

What is medication assisted treatment’s comprehensive approach? MAT is a comprehensive approach that addresses physical and psychological aspects of addiction.

The use of medications is just one part of this approach. Traditional addiction treatment may focus more on psychological aspects through therapy and counseling.

Individualized Treatment

What is medication assisted treatment like in terms of individualized treatment? MAT is tailored to meet the needs of each individual based on their addiction history and personal circumstances. 

This individualized treatment approach helps to increase the effectiveness of the treatment. Traditional addiction treatment may not always be as individualized.

Long-Term Treatment

What is medication assisted treatment like in terms of long-term treatment? MAT is often a long-term treatment process, as it aims to help individuals maintain their sobriety over time.

By taking medication regularly as part of their treatment plan, individuals can help to prevent relapse and stay on the path to recovery. Traditional addiction treatment may be shorter in duration.

Medical Supervision

What is medication assisted treatment like in terms of medical supervision? MAT requires medical supervision, as it involves the use of medications.

Supervision ensures that the medications are used safely and effectively. Traditional addiction treatment may not require the same level of medical supervision.

Which Medications Are Used in Medication Assisted Treatment, and How Do They Work?

Medication assisted treatment uses medications that reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings. This helps people achieve and maintain sobriety. Medication can be highly effective when combined with behavioral therapy and counseling.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, speak with a healthcare provider about the best options for treatment.


Methadone is commonly used to treat opioid addiction. It is an opioid agonist, which means that it works by activating the same receptors in the brain that opioids like heroin and fentanyl do.
However, unlike those drugs, methadone is a long-acting opioid that has a slower onset of action and a longer duration of action. This means that it can help to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings without causing the euphoria that comes with other opioids.
Methadone is available in oral solutions, tablets, and dispersible tablets. The dose is gradually increased until the person in recovery reaches a stable dose.


Buprenorphine is an opioid partial agonist that was approved by the FDA for medication assisted treatment in 2002. It works similarly to methadone by binding to the opioid receptors in the brain, but its effects are weaker. This means that it has a lower risk of causing overdose or withdrawal symptoms.4 Buprenorphine is available in sublingual tablets or films. Buprenorphine treatment is usually started under medical supervision. The dose is gradually adjusted until the person in recovery reaches a stable dose.


Naltrexone is used to treat both opioid and alcohol addiction.5 It works by blocking the effects of opioids and alcohol in the brain, which can help to reduce cravings and prevent relapse. Unlike methadone and buprenorphine, it does not help with withdrawal symptoms.Naltrexone treatment is usually started after a person has completed detoxification. It is important to note that a person must be completely opioid-free before starting naltrexone treatment.

How Can Medication Assisted Treatment Help People Manage Withdrawal and Cravings?

What is medication assisted treatment and how exactly does it work?

Medication assisted treatment is a safe and effective option that helps people recover from addiction. Here’s how:

Reducing Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms are a major obstacle to overcome when quitting drugs or alcohol. The unpleasant side effects can range from mild to severe, depending on the substance and the individual’s history with it.

Medication assisted treatment helps reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms by stabilizing brain chemistry. 

Medications like buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone can activate opioid receptors in the brain and ease withdrawal symptoms. This provides relief to individuals in recovery.

Curbing Cravings

What is medication assisted treatment like in terms of curbing cravings?

Cravings are a natural response to addiction. Cravings cause an intense psychological and physical urge to use drugs or alcohol.

Medication assisted treatment addresses the underlying mechanisms of addiction and helps combat cravings. This reduces relapse and helps motivate people to continue treatment and maintain sobriety.

Providing Emotional Support

Medication assisted treatment provides much-needed emotional support to those in recovery. Reduced withdrawal symptoms help individuals feel more in control and empowered.
Medications provide stability. This allows individuals to focus on their lives without constantly worrying about their drug or alcohol use.

Supporting Long-Term Recovery

MAT can support individuals in their long-term recovery. Medication helps individuals manage withdrawal symptoms and provides a foundation for healing. This can give individuals the confidence and time they need to build skills to maintain sobriety in the long term.

What is Medication Assisted Treatment: Benefits of MAT

Medication assisted treatment can provide a range of benefits for addiction recovery. We’ve already looked at how MAT helps with the following:

  • Reduce withdrawal symptoms
  • Manage cravings
  • Improve treatment outcomes
  • Decrease risk of overdose
  • Provide a safe and effective treatment option

Choosing MAT for addiction recovery can provide other benefits beyond avoiding relapse.

Physical Health Benefits

MAT can have a positive effect on physical health in the following ways:

  • Improve physical health by reducing the harmful effects of drug and alcohol use on the body
  • Increase access to medical care and support services, improving health outcomes

Psychological Benefits

Psychological and emotional benefits of MAT can include:

  • Reduce anxiety and depression
  • Improve mental health and well-being
  • Provide a sense of stability and control in recovery

Social and Functional Benefits

Individuals going through medication assisted treatment may be able to:

  • Improve relationships with family and friends
  • Reduce involvement in criminal activity
  • Improve financial stability

Treatment Engagement Benefits

Further benefits of MAT include:

  • Increase participation in behavioral therapy and counseling
  • Improve retention in treatment
  • Provide ongoing support in recovery, increasing the likelihood of long-term success

What is Medication Assisted Treatment: Common Myths and Misconceptions

The truth is that MAT is highly effective in treating addiction when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. Unfortunately, people continue to share misconceptions about substance abuse and addiction treatment.
Here are some common misconceptions about MAT and the truth behind them:

“Medication Assisted Treatment Replaces One Addiction With Another”

One of the most widespread misconceptions about MAT is that it is simply trading one addiction for another. This is not true. The medication used in MAT is FDA-approved. It has been proven to be an effective tool in helping individuals manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
Unlike illicit drugs, MAT medication is used under the supervision of a doctor and is closely monitored to ensure safety and efficacy.

“Medication Assisted Treatment Is not Real Recovery”

Some people believe that recovery with MAT is not real because it involves medication. However, MAT is an evidence-based treatment. It has been proven to be effective in helping people overcome addiction. Many people who have struggled with addiction find it to be a life-saving treatment. It allows them to function normally and improve their quality of life.

“Medication Assisted Treatment Is a Crutch and Prevents True Self-Recovery”

MAT is not a crutch, as some people may believe. It helps individuals while they receive therapy and support to address the underlying causes of addiction.
MAT can be a stepping stone toward long-term recovery. Many people who participate in MAT eventually reduce or stop their use of medication altogether.

“Medication Assisted Treatment Is Only for Those Who Cannot Quit on Their Own”

Anyone who struggles with addiction can benefit from MAT. Addiction is a complex disease that affects the brain and body in significant ways.
MAT can help people manage these effects and work towards recovery. It is important to remember that addiction is not a moral failing. Seeking professional help is a brave step toward recovery.

“Medication Assisted Treatment Is Expensive and not Accessible to Everyone”

MAT can be affordable and accessible. There are many different resources available to help people pay for their medication and treatment. Additionally, many insurance plans cover MAT. There are programs available to help people who do not have insurance.

What is Medication Assisted Treatment: Side Effects and Symptom Management

What is medication assisted treatment and what are the potential side effects?

While medications used in MAT can be highly effective, they also come with potential side effects that should be managed. Work closely with your doctor and report any unwanted side effects you may experience.

Nausea and Vomiting

Some medications used in MAT, such as buprenorphine, can cause nausea and vomiting in some patients.
Patients can manage these side effects by:

  • Taking their medication with food
  • Staying well-hydrated
  • Avoiding trigger foods that may exacerbate nausea 
  • Taking anti-nausea medication (if recommended by a doctor)


Insomnia can be a common side effect of medications with stimulant properties, such as methadone.6 Patients can manage this side effect by practicing good sleep hygiene, such as:

  • Setting a consistent sleep and wake schedule
  • Avoiding caffeine and other stimulants before bed
  • Creating a comfortable sleep environment


Opioid medications used in MAT, such as methadone, can cause constipation in some patients. Patients can manage this side effect by:7

  • Staying well-hydrated
  • Eating a high-fiber diet
  • Engaging in regular exercise


Some medications used in MAT, such as methadone, can cause sweating in some patients. Patients can manage this side effect by:

  • Wearing breathable clothing
  • Practicing good hygiene
  • Avoiding triggers such as caffeine and spicy foods

Respiratory Depression

Respiratory depression is highly uncommon with proper medication dosing. To manage this risk, patients must be:

  • Regularly monitored by their healthcare provider
  • Prescribed the lowest effective dose of medication

While MAT is an effective addiction treatment, these side effects must be carefully managed to ensure safety. 

Work closely with your healthcare providers and use these strategies to manage side effects. This will help you navigate the ups and downs of addiction recovery with the help of medication.

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) NJ

What is Medication Assisted Treatment: Finding MAT Resources

You can find medication assisted treatment through various avenues, including:

What is Medication Assisted Treatment: Barriers to MAT

Unfortunately, there are still some barriers preventing people from accessing MAT, including:

  • Lack of awareness or misinformation about MAT
  • Stigma associated with addiction and treatment
  • Limited availability of MAT clinics or providers in certain areas
  • Limited insurance coverage for MAT or the high cost of treatment
  • Fear of losing employment or custody of children
  • Lack of transportation or mobility issues
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders or medical conditions that complicate treatment

What is Medication Assisted Treatment Like at True Life Care?

At True Life Care, we know that medication assisted treatment is an amazing tool that can help people recover from addiction.

We use it alongside cognitive behavioral therapy, dual diagnosis treatment, and motivational interviewing. We offer partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs to accommodate your specific needs.

We believe in the power of MAT and therapy for long-term recovery. With our expert guidance and support, we can help you break free from addiction.

Reach Out and Begin Healing

If you’re curious about our medication assisted treatment in New Jersey or have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask us! We’ll provide the information you need to make an informed decision about addiction recovery.


  1. https://nida.nih.gov/research-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/nchs_press_releases/2022/202205.htm
  3. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/research-reports/medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction/efficacy-medications-opioid-use-disorder
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459126/
  5. https://www.samhsa.gov/medications-substance-use-disorders/medications-counseling-related-conditions/naltrexone
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2874989/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4654218/

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