Medication-Assisted Treatment, or MAT, is revolutionizing the addiction treatment community as more and more behavioral treatment professionals are adopting this safe and easy-to-control solution. The method can be used to treat a number of different substance issues, including opioid, alcohol, and tobacco addictions, helping patients control cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and dangerous health effects.
Big-Time Payers are Recognizing the Value of MAT
Major payers have caught on to this exciting and effective form of treatment. In November, sixteen healthcare payers representing 248 million people agreed to adopt eight “National Principles of Care” for the treatment of addiction that will improve outcomes and save lives. The eight principles include:
- A personal plan for every patient – “One size doesn’t fit all. Treatment must consider unique social, mental, biological, and environmental needs—with frequent check-ins and adjustments.”
- Fast access to treatment – “Addiction alters brain chemistry. So when an individual is able to seek treatment, that moment must be seized.”
- A commitment to MAT – “Just like with any other chronic disease, medication is appropriate for treating some addictions. It should be destigmatized and easily accessible.”
Advancements in Medication-Assisted Treatment
What once was criticized as “replacing one addiction with another” is now valued by insurers as a respected form of treatment that addresses the effects of addiction in a comprehensive way, by taking into account the extreme physical difficulty of overcoming cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
Medication-assisted treatment for opioids comes in many different forms, as pharmaceutical advancements have created many more medication options for use in MAT. In addition to methadone, which is intended for patients who are addicted to opioids in high doses, the most common medications used in MAT for treating opioid addictions now include: naltrexone (Vivitrol®), which is taken by pill or injection and is also effective for treating alcohol dependence; and buprenorphine (Suboxone®, Subutex®), which has a “ceiling effect””and is thus considered one of the safest treatment options.
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