Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medicated Assisted Treatment for Alcohol & Opioids with Vivitrol and Suboxone

Medicated assisted treatment, or MAT, is the combination of counseling and behavioral therapies with medication usually to treat opioid addiction or alcohol abuse. Studies have shown that individuals who are treated with medication during therapy are more likely to succeed at recovery. When a person becomes dependent on drugs, they create lasting changes in their brain function and chemistry. Drug dependence should be treated the same as any other chronic illness.

The Benefits of Medicated Assisted Treatment

This type of treatment:

  • Improves survival rate
  • Decreases criminal activity and illicit drug abuse
  • Improves birth outcomes among women suffering from drug use
  • Increases the chance of the patient obtaining employment after treatment
  • Increases the likelihood of the patient staying in treatment

Medicated assisted treatment can help ease cravings and physical withdrawal symptoms. Several medications that can be used during treatment help fill the same void in the brain that opioids once did. When administered by a professional physician, there are better effects on the patients’ physical, mental or intellectual health. This allows the patients to focus on the therapy portion of treatment that will address the issues surrounding their addiction. Patients will be able to:

  • Work on how to repair their relationships
  • Receive motivation and encouragement for success
  • Learn how to replace unhealthy behaviors with healthier ones
  • Find new ways to handle stress
  • Dig deep to find out how and why the addiction started
  • Find resources available to connect with others facing similar issues
  • Learn how to avoid relapse

MAT can drastically decrease the need for inpatient detox. It can also reduce the risk of hepatitis C or HIV by helping the patient avoid relapse. The programs offered are specifically tailored to the individual needs of the patient. Arrow Passage Recovery treats addiction to heroin, alcohol and prescription pain medication. The medication that our professionals administer helps to block the euphoric effects of opioids and alcohol, normalize brain and body functions and reduce cravings without the negative side effects of illicit drugs. The FDA approves all of the medications provided by Arrow Passage Recovery. Patients who undergo medicated assisted treatment for opioid dependence must also receive educational and counseling services by law.

MAT can work in two different ways. Physicians can administer opiates that will activate the same receptors in the brain but are absorbed into the bloodstream over an extended period of time. This will help prevent opioid withdrawal symptoms without the effect of feeling high. Doctors can also administer an opioid antagonist, which is a non-opioid drug that affects the same brain receptors but blocks them. Opioid antagonists are ideal for those who have a higher chance of relapsing. While on an antagonist, if one relapses, they will not feel the effects of drinking alcohol or using drugs. However, if a patient stops taking the opioid antagonist and relapses, they could face severe consequences.

Medications Used in Medicated Assisted Treatment


Patients can rest assured that they will receive levels of medication that are safe and controlled. Suboxone is an opioid itself that is successful at stopping symptoms of withdrawal. It should only be taken as prescribed and in a safe medical setting. Dosage varies from patient to patient; some are prescribed to take it for the rest of their lives, greatly reducing their chance of relapse. For opioid dependence, Suboxone is one of the most commonly prescribed medications. It cannot cure the addiction to opioids, but it is a successful form of treatment when combined with intensive therapy. It is administered by a tablet that can dissolve under the tongue and is effective for at least 24 hours.

Dosage instructions will be provided by your doctor or MAT physician. For most people, Suboxone can start working within 30 minutes and last for a couple of days. It is important that you consult with our doctors about any other medications you take, including over-the-counter drugs. Sedatives, narcotic pain relievers, or anxiety and depression medication can lead to loss of consciousness when combined with Suboxone.

You will begin taking Suboxone at Arrow Passage Recovery at the early stages of withdrawal. Once you have lost cravings for opioids, we may adjust or decrease your dosage. The final step is the “maintenance” period where you will slowly taper off Suboxone and make a smooth transition into recovery. Our physicians at Arrow Passage Recovery must meet specific criteria before administering an opioid for treatment including:

  • Board certification from the American Osteopathic Association in addiction medicine
  • Certification from the American Society of Addiction Medicine
  • Certification from the American Board of Medical Specialties in addiction psychiatry
  • At least eight hours of training on management and treatment of patients who are opioid-dependent

If you do not suffer from severe health conditions and are willing to follow safety precautions for treatment, you may make a good candidate for Suboxone treatment.


Vivitrol is an antagonist that does not release dopamine in the brain, making it non-addictive. Vivitrol is so powerful that it can block opioid receptors for a month at a time, helping to prevent relapse. It can only be prescribed after you have completed detoxification. Vivitrol is successful when used for individuals suffering from alcohol, opioid or heroin abuse. It is one of the most common brands of medications used in medicated assisted treatment next to Methadone and Suboxone. Vivitrol is administered via injection and can help prevent opioid dependence after detox as well as treat alcohol dependence. It is essential to participate in extensive therapy while taking this medication.

Through our MAT program, you may be prescribed Vivitrol along with disulfiram or acamprosate to combat your addiction. Individual and group therapy are vital to help you identify why you began using drugs while taking this medication. MAT will help you find new and healthy hobbies to keep you productive during your road to recovery. Time management is critical to prevent boredom, which can lead to relapse. If you have a less severe case of alcohol or drug dependence, you may still benefit from our outpatient MAT program.

At Arrow Passage Recovery, we will ensure that a patient doesn’t abuse Vivitrol and is successful in their recovery process. Vivitrol works by blocking the cravings as patients are receiving therapeutic care at the same time. When used through a medicated assisted treatment program, it has a high success rate and low relapse rate. If you have severe liver issues, you should not take Vivitrol. You should also refrain from this medication if you are continually using heroin, opioids, alcohol or other street drugs. You should not take Vivitrol if you have hemophilia or kidney problems or if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, are breastfeeding or have other medical concerns. It can also interact with several medications including herbal supplements, over-the-counter medications and vitamins. You cannot take Vivitrol until you are finished going through the following opioid withdrawal symptoms, which include:

  • Excessive yawning
  • Fever
  • Anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Shakiness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Teary eyes
  • Muscle twitches
  • Muscles aches
  • Hot or cold flushes
  • Nausea
  • Runny nose
  • Goosebumps
  • Restlessness

Vivitrol is injected directly into the muscle once every four weeks to control cravings. It is entirely safe and non-habit forming. When you stop taking the medication, you will not experience withdrawal symptoms.

Once the drug is injected, you will notice its effect within two days, and it will last an entire month. There is no risk of overdose when a trained physician injects it. When Vivitrol is in your system, you will not feel the effects of drugs or alcohol if they are in your system.

Recovery in Medicated Assisted Treatment

After an individual has completed detoxification, the next step is the recovery process. Since there are no withdrawal symptoms when taking Vivitrol, a recovering individual can use it continually for as long as they need to.

It is important that you continue therapy and counseling to help you create an action plan to prevent relapse. Our MAT program can guide you through the process of managing your disease effectively. Group and individual therapy are an important part of the recovery process that can help you learn how to live a healthy, normal life. These types of therapy usually include a 12-step program that can build your self-confidence and self-esteem. The premise behind a 12-step program is to help others maintain abstinence from the substance that they are addicted to. After treatment through Arrow Passage Recovery, individuals should continue to attend recovery meetings for ongoing support. These meetings can aid in long-term recovery and account for better mental health. A typical 12-step program will provide the following tools:

  • The chance to practice restraint while building self-esteem
  • The ability to admit that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol
  • Encouragement to surrender to a higher power and ask them for help in seeking control of your addiction
  • The ability to achieve self-acceptance and to change certain behaviors
  • Compassion for others who have been affected by addiction and those who are still struggling
  • Self-awareness and self-observation to identify triggers and issues in life that lead to drug abuse
  • The opportunity to promote self-restraint among your peers

Individuals struggling with alcohol or drug addiction need several options of treatment to help them stay clean. Studies have shown that relapse rates are cut in half thanks to medicated assisted treatment. Customized treatment plans specific to the individual’s needs are an essential part of treatment. We can also provide aftercare planning that will be under the supervision of a counselor or case manager. Recovery phases vary depending on an individual’s needs; maintenance through medication for long-term recovery can either be short-term or last a lifetime.

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