Is Medication-Assisted Treatment Effective?

Is medication-assisted treatment effective? Explore the details of MAT for substance use disorders here.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Is medication-assisted treatment effective? This article will discuss its effectiveness for treating various substance use disorders (SUDs) and where you can find help in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

is medication-assisted treatment effective

What Is SUD?

Substance use disorder is a mental health disorder that alters the brain, leading to uncontrollable urges to use a substance despite the negative consequences. 

It is a serious public health problem that affects millions of people worldwide.  In 2021, 46.3 million people aged twelve or older in the United States had an SUD.1

One of the most challenging aspects of treating SUD is preventing relapse. It can occur due to various factors. Some are cravings, withdrawal symptoms, stress, triggers, and co-occurring mental health issues.


What Is MAT?

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) combines medications with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders. It uses FDA-approved medications to treat opioid use disorder (OUD) and help prevent relapse. 

Is medication-assisted treatment effective for all types of substance use disorders? This therapeutic method can also help treat other SUDs, such as alcohol use disorder (AUD) and nicotine dependence.2
Is medication-assisted treatment effective for managing opioid withdrawal symptoms? Yes, various medications in MAT can help manage withdrawal symptoms. It can also reduce cravings.

Severe Side Effects

Some rare but serious side effects include: 
  • Respiratory depression
  • Liver damage
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Allergic reaction
  • Dependence
Is medication-assisted treatment effective despite the side effects? Patients and medical providers can manage these side effects by adjusting the dose, switching the medication, or adding other medications to treat them. It is important to report any side effects to your doctor and follow their instructions carefully.

Is Medication-Assisted Treatment Effective for Treating Opioid Use Disorder and Other Disorders?

Is medication-assisted treatment effective? MAT effectively reduces opioid overdose deaths, relapse rates, illicit opioid use, criminal activity, infectious disease transmission, and health care costs. It can also improve social functioning and quality of life.
A systematic review of twenty-eight studies published in 2019 found that MAT delivered in prisons and jails reduced:3
  • Post-release mortality by 75%
  • Opioid overdose mortality by 85%
  • Illicit opioid use by 28%
  • Recidivism by 19%
  • HIV risk behaviors by 53%

Is medication-assisted treatment effective for individuals with co-occurring mental health disorders and substance use disorders? 

Another study published in 2018 found that MAT can effectively help individuals with co-occurring severe mental illness and AUD. The results showed reduced hospitalizations and emergency department visits and improved adherence to medications.4

When Is MAT Not Effective?

Is medication-assisted treatment effective for everyone? As with all treatments, the effectiveness of MAT varies from person to person. 

Some people may have medical conditions, allergies, or interactions that prevent them from taking MAT medications. Others may not respond to medications well, requiring alternative treatments.

What Medications Are Used in MAT?

The FDA has approved various medications for MAT, including:


Methadone is a synthetic opioid that activates the same receptors as other opioids but does not produce euphoria. 

The medication reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids. Methadone is taken orally once a day under medical supervision at a licensed clinic.


This medication is a partial opioid agonist that binds to the same receptors as other opioids but has a lower potential for abuse. Buprenorphine reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings for opioids.  

Qualified physicians and nurse practitioners can prescribe buprenorphine, and patients can take it at home as a tablet or film under the tongue or cheek.


Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that binds to opioid and endorphin receptors in the brain. The FDA approved this medication for opioid and alcohol addiction. It prevents relapse by eliminating any reward from using opioids and blocks the effects of alcohol. 

Medical professionals can administer naltrexone as a monthly injection (Vivitrol) or daily pill (Revia).


Disulfiram is an alcohol antagonist that interferes with the metabolism of alcohol. The medication causes unpleasant reactions, such as nausea, vomiting, headache, flushing, and palpitations, if alcohol is consumed while taking it. Disulfiram acts as a deterrent to drinking alcohol.


This medication restores the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain affected by chronic alcohol use. Acamprosate reduces withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, and dysphoria, that can trigger a relapse. 

Patients recovering from AUD typically take two tablets of acamprosate orally three times a day.


This medication partially activates nicotine receptors in the brain while blocking nicotine from binding to them. Varenicline reduces nicotine withdrawal symptoms and cravings while diminishing the rewarding effects of smoking. 

Patients recovering from nicotine addiction typically take varenicline orally twice daily for up to twelve weeks.

Is Medication-Assisted Treatment Effective as a Standalone Treatment?

MAT is not a standalone treatment. While medication-assisted treatment includes medication and behavioral therapy, there are still other components needed for a full, successful recovery. Medical professionals often integrate it into holistic treatment plans to treat physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.

Other therapies can include alternative or complementary modalities that can support the recovery process. These can include mindfulness meditation, yoga, acupuncture, art therapy, music therapy, exercise, nutrition, and more. These therapies can help reduce stress, increase relaxation, boost mood, and improve physical and mental health.

How Long Does MAT Last?

There is no fixed duration for MAT. The length of MAT depends on several factors, such as the type of substance use disorder, addiction severity, medication, patient’s response to treatment, and the goals and preferences of the patient and provider.
The patient and provider should decide to start or stop MAT together based on a careful assessment of the benefits and risks. Patients should not stop MAT without medical supervision or support.

Is MAT Dangerous?

MAT is not dangerous if used safely and appropriately under medical supervision and guidance. The medications in MAT are FDA-approved, with research backing their safety and efficacy. The risks of MAT outweigh the benefits of reducing substance abuse and its associated harms.
However, MAT can have side effects that vary depending on the type of medication, the dose, the duration of use, and the individual’s response. Some common side effects include: 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Rash
  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual dysfunction
Is Medication-Assisted Treatment Effective

Does Advaita Integrated Medicine Offer MAT?

Advaita Integrated Medicine offers MAT as part of our comprehensive treatment program for substance use disorders. Our facility in Raleigh will provide you with an individualized assessment and treatment plan that can include medication management, counseling, and other evidence-based therapies to address your specific needs and goals.

AIM has a team of qualified professionals trained and experienced in providing MAT safely and effectively. We also provide ongoing support and aftercare services to help you sustain your recovery long-term.

Get Help for Substance Use Disorder in Raleigh

Is medication-assisted treatment effective? MAT is an effective solution for treating SUDs and can help people achieve and maintain recovery. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use disorder and lives in the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill area, contact AIM today. We are here to provide detailed information on our MAT program and support you on your journey to recovery. 

Is medication-assisted treatment effective for you? Find out today with Advaita Integrated Medicine.

Table of Contents

Questions About Treatment?

Reach out to Advaita Integrated Medicine today and let us guide you toward a full and rewarding life uninhibited by mental health or substance use disorder challenges. We are here to support you every step of the way.
Call Now Button