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Why is ongoing Medication for Addiction Treatment (MAT) more beneficial than detox alone?

While a person can always choose to withdraw from opioids without using medication assistance, it can be much more difficult symptomatically. Withdrawal without MAT also increases the risk of relapse. Thus, the use of medications is highly encouraged. MAT, in combination with psychosocial resources, is the standard of care for treating opioid use disorder, both immediately during detox and after maintenance.  

There are a few options for MAT: First, there are what we call “adjunctive medications.” which are not opioids but help treat some of the side effects of opioid withdrawal (e.g., Clonidine for tremors/anxiety, loperamide for diarrhea, and dicyclomine for abdominal pain/cramping). The efficacy of these medications is not as strong as MAT. 

Then, there are two options for MAT: Methadone, and Suboxone, discussed in detail elsewhere. There is also Vivitrol, an opioid antagonist that can also be used for people who cannot or do not want to take methadone or Suboxone. 

MAT allows the patient to focus on therapy instead of uncomfortable withdrawals. It is an effective option to treat opioid dependence, reduce cravings, and improve the quality of life for patients undergoing addiction treatment.

Lane McKenna

Lane McKenna has been a health and wellness writer for over 20 years. After graduating from Brown University (AB English), Lane spent over a decade on Wall Street West as a leading health services securities analyst. Opioid use disorder has long been one of her areas of expertise.

Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

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Lane McKenna

Lane McKenna has been a health and wellness writer for over 20 years. After graduating from Brown University (AB English), Lane spent over a decade on Wall Street West as a leading health services securities analyst. Opioid use disorder has long been one of her areas of expertise.

Elena Hill, MD, MPH

Elena Hill, MD; MPH received her MD and Masters of Public Health degrees at Tufts Medical School and completed her family medicine residency at Boston Medical Center. She is currently an attending physician at Bronxcare Health Systems in the Bronx, NY where she works as a primary care physician as well as part time in pain management and integrated health. Her clinical interests include underserved health care, chronic pain and integrated/alternative health.

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