How Does Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) Work?

Substance abuse might seem like a trap with no way out, but now, various programs have been initiated that can help individuals conquer substance abuse.

There are so many options now that deciding which treatment to choose has become a challenge in itself.

However, Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) is one of the effective treatments that rely on medications coupled with counseling and behavioral therapies.

So, let’s find out how MAT works and help you figure out if this treatment option would work for you or your loved one.

Overview Of MAT

MAT works in two ways:

  • Through prescribed opioids
  • Through prescribed opioid antagonist

Prescribed opioids induce the same effect as regular opioids that a person is abusing because medicated opioids trigger the same receptors. But these opioids are absorbed in the bloodstream over a longer period.

The longer time duration for release breaks the psychological association between taking a drug and feeling an immediate high.

Opioid antagonists block the receptors that are triggered by substance use. Consequently, even if a person relapses, they are unlikely to feel an intense high or the effect their brain craved.

Moreover, the use of opioid antagonists reduces drug tolerance. This is often useful to help patients reduce their substance abuse and eventually eliminate the substance once and for all.

Integral Role of Medicine In MAT

The sudden elimination of drugs can be counter-productive and often deadly. Hence, MAT works around the problems caused by withdrawal symptoms.

Medicines used for MAT mitigate physiological effects, such as cravings. Moreover, the medicines help the body normalize brain function, reduce dependency on substances that include opiates, and block opioids’ euphoric effect.

What Medicines Are Used in MAT?

There are several medicines used in MAT.

Some of the medicines include:

  1. Naltrexone
  2. Methadone
  3. Buprenorphine


Substance abuse causes a strong sedative and euphoric effect that increases dependency and tolerance, worsening conditions. Naltrexone works by preventing that sedative and euphoric impact. This allows the patient to get more control over their senses and feel more in control.

Methadone and Buprenorphine

Methadone is a full agonist, while Buprenorphine is a partial agonist. That means methadone fully occupies the mu-opioid receptor, which allows a reduction in painful withdrawal symptoms. On the other hand, Buprenorphine binds the mu-opioid partially, leading to a ceiling effect – meaning Buprenorphine’s effects gradually and do not increase even after repeated dosages.


The efficacy of MAT, especially for opioid abuse, alcoholism, and the reduction of HIV transmission is proven.

Understanding how MAT works is an integral step toward getting the treatment one needs to fight substance abuse and lead a healthy and happy life.

To learn more about MAT and decide if it’s the ideal option for you, your family, or your friend, contact Christie Care now!

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