Medication Assisted Treatment – What Is It?


Many people ask, is there Medication Assisted Treatment near me (MAT for short) and what is it? Medication Assisted Treatment is an important medical approach that is used in opioid treatment programs throughout the United States. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines MAT as the use of FDA-approved medications, in combination with cognitive and behavioral therapies and counseling to deliver a “whole-patient” approach for the treatment of opioid use disorders.

The FDA-approved medications that New Life Medical Addiction Services uses in MAT for opioid addiction treatment are Suboxone, Subutex, Vivitrol and Sublocade and their derivatives. We will explore the use of each of these.

Buprenorphine Treatment

Buprenorphine is one of the newer Medication Assisted Treatments used in opioid treatment programs and is often known by the brand names Suboxone Subutex or Sublocade.  Buprenorphine was approved by the FDA for treatment of opioid use disorders in 2002 and was previously used as a pain reliever since it is a partial opioid antagonist that binds with opioid receptors in the brain which reduces pain.

Although Suboxone Subutex and Sublocade are not considered classic opioid drugs they act like one. However, although they cause moderate receptor site activity, they do not result in a state of intoxication or euphoria as long as they are used as prescribed. Importantly, Buprenorphine is beneficial because it prevents withdrawal symptoms while reducing cravings for opiate drugs and prescription painkillers. Buprenorphine is, however, a controlled substance that can lead to dependence or addiction.

Suboxone is a synthetic opioid that contains the ingredients Buprenorphine and Naloxone and can be highly effective when used during the opioid detoxification process and for patient maintenance therapy. When an individual uses Suboxone, they are unable to feel euphoric effects from opioids if they were to have a relapse occurrence. If a relapse were to occur, it could also precipitate withdrawal symptoms if someone is taking Suboxone and attempts to use another opioid.

Subutex does not have Naloxone as an ingredient, making it somewhat easier to abuse. Subutex or Suboxone are often given during the first few days of detox to reduce withdrawal symptoms. They can both also be used for long-term opioid maintenance treatment.

Sublocade is a synthetic opioid that contains the ingredients Buprenorphine and Naloxone and is administered as a monthly subcutaneous injection. It can be highly effective when used for the opioid for patient maintenance therapy. When an individual uses Sublocade, they are unable to feel euphoric effects from opioids if they were to have a relapse occurrence.

Under the careful supervision of the doctors at New Life Medical Addiction Services, these drugs can become a critical first line of defense against relapse.

Naltrexone Treatment

Naltrexone is not a controlled substance and is the generic form of the brand-name drug Vivitrol. Naltrexone is used to prevent substance abuse in individuals who have opioid or alcohol use disorder by reducing the cravings that come from addiction to these drugs. Naltrexone is available in pill form that can be taken orally once a day. Vivitrol can only be administered by a physician and when administered intramuscularly, it will persist in the body for up to 30 days.

As an opiate antagonist, it works by blocking the effects of opioids and has been shown to be very useful in helping reduce relapse occurrence in recovering opioid addicts. However, it is important to understand that Naltrexone is only one part of a complete treatment program for opioid treatment that should also include lifestyle changes, counseling, and support.

The Benefits of Medication Assisted Treatment

According to SAMHSA, MAT has proven to be clinically effective and can significantly reduce the need for inpatient detoxification services for patients suffering from opioid abuse and addiction. Medication Assisted Treatment allows clinicians like New Life to offer a more comprehensive, individually tailored program of medication and behavioral therapy. New Life’s MAT also includes support services that address the needs of most of our patients.

The ultimate potential and goal of MAT is a full recovery for the patient, including the ability to live a fully autonomous and fulfilled life. Medication Assisted Treatment has been shown to:

  • Improved retention and outcomes in treatment
  • Increased patient survival
  • Decreased use of illicit opiates and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increase patients’ ability to secure and maintain employment
  • Improved birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant

Research also shows that these medications and therapies can contribute to lowering a person’s risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C by reducing the potential for relapse.

Mental Health Benefits of Medication Assisted Treatment

New Life Medical Addiction Centers has psychiatrists and counselors on staff and offers psychotherapy and counseling to improve our patient’s psychological health and well-being. Individuals in MAT programs can address co-occurring disorders and, if needed, receive medication to treat these disorders as well. These programs encourage education on healthy coping strategies to prevent relapse, as well as learning to manage stress, anxiety, depression, and conflict. Individuals taking Buprenorphine are recommended to take part in psychotherapy while taking their medication.

Medical Implications of Medication Assisted Treatment

The New Life MAT program also offers drug monitoring and other interventions to help guide the patient throughout the course of their treatment. New Life also monitors patients to determine if they are abusing other medications. It is not uncommon for addicts to abuse other drugs while on MAT or sell their medication to buy other drugs. With proper monitoring of medication, this can be reduced.

Another concern is that it is possible for a recovering addict to overdose if they use illegal or prescribed drugs while they are participating in MAT. For instance, using other CNS depressants, such as alcohol and benzodiazepines, significantly increases the probability of respiratory failure, overdose, coma, and death. Since MAT is considered a harm reduction treatment, New Life sometimes recommends implementing it as a long-term treatment specifically for addicts with a history of chronic relapse.

The Medication Assisted Treatment that New Life Medical Addiction Services provides can change the lives of our patients as long as they follow the course of treatment that we set out for them.

Click here to learn more about New Life Medical Addiction Services or call us at: 856-942-3700 or send us a Text Message.


  1. Paula N, RN on February 20, 2020 at 4:15 am

    Great article regarding Medication Assisted Treatment, however it says that Vivitrol when administered intravenously can stay in the system for up to 30 days. Vivitrol can not be administered intravenously , only intramuscularly. Perhaps this was a typographical error. Just wanted to clarify.

    • Ned Barrett on February 20, 2020 at 2:42 pm

      Paula -You are correct and we appreciate you catching this typo. We have corrected the post. Thanks so much.”

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