Medication-assisted treatment, often referred to as MAT, is a type of addiction treatment that utilizes medications as part of recovery. Historically, medication assisted treatment has been used in relation to opioid addictions and alcohol use disorders. More recent years have seen the method expanded to address other substance abuse disorders. One of the biggest questions people have about the approach is, “How long is medication-assisted treatment?”
Medication-assisted treatment length is largely determined by an individual’s needs. Many programs are designed to last one to three months in line with how long traditional addiction therapy programs last. However, medication-assisted treatment length may extend to a year or more for people with especially severe addictions.
How Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Work?
MAT works by helping to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with substance use disorders, making it easier for individuals to focus on their recovery. These medications can also block the euphoric effects of drugs, making it less likely for individuals to relapse.
MAT is typically appropriate for individuals who are struggling with opioid or alcohol addiction. However, it’s also suitable to treat other substance use disorders. It is often used in combination with behavioral therapies, such as counseling and support groups, to address the psychological aspects of addiction.
Overall, MAT has been proven to be an effective treatment option for substance use disorders, increasing the likelihood of successful recovery and reducing the risk of relapse. However, it should always be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan and under the supervision of a healthcare professional. It is not a cure for addiction, but rather a tool to support individuals on their journey towards recovery. With the right combination of medication, therapy, and support, MAT can help individuals break free from the cycle of addiction and lead healthier, more fulfilling lives.
How Long is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
As mentioned, medication-assisted treatment length is highly flexible. Rather than detracting from its efficacy, this flexibility ensures more people who can benefit from this approach are able to take advantage of it. When people ask, “How long is medication-assisted treatment?” it can be frustrating to not get an exact answer. But context and situation are major determinants of this approach.
A few examples are in order here. For instance, someone who has struggled with a heroin addiction for five years and is at risk for dangerous behavior requires a different approach from someone who has only had an addiction for six months. Then again, someone with an alcohol use disorder needs a different type of medication-assisted treatment compared to someone with a benzo addiction.
The severity of an addiction is often one of the foremost considerations in determining medication assisted treatment length. People with less severe addictions naturally need less time receiving medication assisted treatment. In addition, completing a round of medication assisted treatment may not conclude the need for treatment overall. It may just serve as the beginning to a longer set of interventions such as therapy and support group attendance.
What to Expect in MAT
First, it’s worth noting that MAT is an effective, evidence-based approach to treating addiction. In fact, people who engage in an MAT program are about twice as likely to persist through treatment compared to people who do not attend an MAT program for opioid and alcohol use disorders. Remaining in treatment does not guarantee long-term sobriety. Nonetheless, it is clear that people who stay in treatment longer tend to display better outcomes in terms of maintaining sobriety and avoiding relapse.
MAT is an approach to addiction treatment that combines behavioral therapies with medications. It is often appropriate for opioid addiction and alcohol use disorder. Medications used in MAT programs typically fall into one of two categories: agonists or antagonists. Agonists are medications that open the opioid receptors in the brain. Antagonists close the brain’s opioid receptors. Medications that have received FDA approval for use in MAT programs include:
In the case of opioid addiction, methadone is commonly part of treatment. This drug helps alleviate pain and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms while individuals taper off of using an opioid they were addicted to. Meanwhile, Acamprosate is commonly used for treating alcohol use disorder. It suppresses cravings and cuts back on withdrawal symptoms.
Find MAT at San Antonio Recovery Center
San Antonio Recovery Center offers MAT programs for opioid addiction, alcohol use disorder, and other substance abuse disorders. We partner with each of our patients to build a comprehensive treatment plan so you know what to expect in MAT.
Contact 866.957.7885 to learn more about the wide range of addiction treatment services offered by San Antonio Recovery Center.