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If you’ve been around the recovery community for any length of time, chances are you’ve heard of MAT (Medication-Assisted Treatment). MAT combines medications and behavioral therapy to treat substance use disorders, especially opioid addiction. Methadone, a synthetic opioid, is one of the several medications used in MAT to help a patient quit using without all the withdrawal symptoms. Another drug used at MAT drug rehabs is a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone, otherwise known as Suboxone. To help people determine whether this form of care is right for them, our Northeast recovery center is sharing medication-assisted treatment pros and cons.

Pros and Cons of Medication-Assisted Treatment

Finding effective addiction treatment programs can be a trial and error process. While some people require 24-hour care and supervision in the early stages of their recovery, others may work better under less supervision. A form of addiction treatment that’s constantly under scrutiny is MAT.

Especially if you’re struggling with opioid addiction, MAT may or may not be a form of care that could help you. To help you decide, below is a guide on the pros and cons of medication-assisted treatment for substance abuse.

Benefits of Medication-Assisted Treatment

Since 2018, an estimated 2 million people have had opioid use disorders, including addiction to prescription opioids and the street drug heroin. In the same year, 10.3 million people reported opioid misuse, and of that number, 9.9 million had misused prescription opioids.1

MAT has proven to be clinically effective in reducing the need for inpatient medically monitored detox for individuals with these disorders. MAT offers a comprehensive and individually tailored program for clients that utilize both medicine and psychotherapy to improve their chances of long-term success.

With that said, some pros of medication-assisted treatment include:

  • Increased chances of patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Reduced risk of early leave from rehab
  • Decreased illicit opiate use and other criminal activity associated with drug abuse
  • Increased ability to obtain and sustain employment
  • Improved birth outcomes among pregnant women with drug addictions

Research also shows that therapy programs and medications used in MAT can lower a person’s risk of contracting HIV and hepatitis C by reducing the potential for relapse. This risk is highest among intravenous drug users.

Cons of Medication-Assisted Treatment

As with any form of care, there are always drawbacks to consider. Some cons of medication-assisted treatment to keep in mind include:

  • MAT requires close medical supervision at a certified drug rehab facility
  • The medications used during MAT may cause undesirable side effects
  • The medications used in MAT can be abused or misused
  • There’s a risk of trading one addiction for another

With this in mind, MAT isn’t the solution but rather a step in the right direction. Although the substances used in medication-assisted treatment do have a potential for abuse and can produce some undesirable side effects, they’re always administered under the close supervision of a medical professional.

Patients can’t use these drugs on their own, but instead, they’re administered by a medical team member at the facility. So while there are risks, they’re minimal considering the restrictions and close supervision that comes with administering these drugs.

Furthermore, many argue that MAT does not cure withdrawals, but it’s not designed to. MAT assists patients in withdrawing from drugs by helping them slowly wean off these substances and reduce the discomfort of the process. Considering how dangerous and uncomfortable opioid withdrawal is, MAT creates a slower process that will actually improve the patient’s chances of completing opioid detox and avoiding relapse.

Finally, MAT is not a solution or viable long-term form of care. It’s a short-term method used to help people with severe opioid use disorders overcome withdrawals without relapsing. MAT should only be administered at an accredited and licensed facility under the care of medical professionals. It’s also designed to accompany opioid addiction treatment and other rehab programs to improve an individual’s chances of success.

Contact Clearbrook Today

As with anything, maybe the medication-assisted treatment pros and cons don’t have you convinced that this is the right step for you. Regardless of this decision, our Northeast addictions treatment center offers drug and alcohol treatment in PA at all levels for all kinds of substance use disorders.

If you are addicted to opiates or other drugs, deciding to go to treatment and committing to that decision is the first step in changing your life. Your future depends on the decisions you make today, so don’t wait to seek the help you need.

With 45 years of experience, Clearbrook Treatment Centers can provide you or a loved one with the treatment and care that you deserve. If you are ready to change your life, call Clearbrook today at 570-536-9621 and see what recovery has to offer.



CDC – Opioid Overdose Prevention Saves Lives

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