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What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, in combination with other therapies, to provide a whole-patient approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Examples of medications are methadone and buprenorphine for opioid addiction, naltrexone and acamprosate for alcohol addiction, and nicotine replacement therapy for tobacco smokers who are addicted to nicotine.

Medications and counseling is the standard of care for a number of substance use disorders, including tobacco use disorders, alcohol use disorders, and opioid use disorders.

Why does MAT matter to health and human service providers?

Non-addiction specialty health and human service providers need basic knowledge of medications used to treat substance use disorders. Armed with this knowledge, health and human service providers can:

  • Offer treatment themselves – Many medications can be prescribed by physicians, including buprenorphine and naltrexone for opioid use disorders, acamprosate for alcohol use disorders, and bupropion for tobacco use disorders.
  • Refer to appropriate treatment – Health and human service providers often interface with individuals who would benefit from substance use disorder treatment; medication-assisted treatment should be included in the full range of treatment options, as appropriate.
  • Coordinate care – Substance use disorders commonly co-occur with other mental and physical health conditions that require medication; knowledge of safe and effective medication-assisted treatment approaches can help health and human service providers avoid risky drug-drug interactions and ensure high quality care for the whole patient.

What does IRETA offer about MAT?

Information on risk management for methadone programs

Recorded webinars that address a number of aspects of MAT

Consultation services for organizations seeking to implement or improve MAT services

Other MAT resources

Providers’ Clinical Support System for Medication-Assisted Treatment (PCSS-MAT)

AT Forum

ATTC Network

The American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD)

The ASAM National Practice Guideline for the Use of Medications in the Treatment of Addiction involving Opioid Use (2015)

Individuals with chronic relapsing diseases should have access to MAT. It’s just the standard of care. We cannot diminish the importance of that.  

– Elinore McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, Chief Medical Officer at SAMHSA

Studies have shown that patients who are engaged in MAT have significantly lower rates of ODs.

– Michael Botticelli, Acting Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy

We have developed medications that are useful. Unfortunately, they’re not used widely and when used, they’re probably not paired sufficiently with counseling and psychosocial interventions.

– Peter Luongo, PhD, Executive Director of IRETA