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Treating Opioid Use Disorder: Medicated-Assisted Treatment

Updated: Oct 25, 2018

The process of recovery does not end with detox. During addiction, abnormal brain adaptations have occurred creating tolerance, dependence and cravings that can recur years later. Relapse is frequent (85% in 6 months). Ongoing treatment of this chronic brain disease is required in order to reduce or eliminate relapse.


Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of opioid use disorder.


Research shows that a combination of medication and therapy can successfully treat these disorders, and for some people struggling with addiction, MAT can help sustain recovery. MAT has proved to be clinically effective and to significantly reduce the need for inpatient detoxification services for individuals.


The ultimate goal of MAT is full recovery, including the ability to live a self-directed life. This treatment approach has been shown to:


• Improve patient survival

• Increase retention in treatment

• Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders

• Increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment

• Improve birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant

• Reduce needle sharing thereby lowering risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C

• Improve involvement in pro-social activities and mental health


Dependence on pain relievers dropped below 20 percent at 18 months, and below 10 percent at 42 months and had markedly higher odds of positive outcomes.