Prescription Drug Medication Assisted Treatment

In 2016 9 million men and women reported misuse of prescription pain medicine. It might sound unusual to think that medications can help with prescription drug abuse, but it can help the recovery process be less daunting.

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What is the Prescription Drugs Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program?

Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) can be used in two phases. The first phase is when a patient initially comes to medical prescription drugs rehab and needs help with detox and withdrawal symptoms. The second phase is when they move on to prescription drug inpatient treatment. Here, they need help to keep cravings and persistent withdrawal symptoms at bay.

MAT does not work for everyone but it pulls many people with an SUD from the brink of disaster. It enables them to live a normal, productive life. For this reason, maintenance doses and outpatient treatment can continue for years in certain cases.

Some 12-step groups with a faith-based approach may disapprove of MAT. But the reality is that prescription drugs change the brain, and it takes time and medication to reverse the damage.

The FDA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse see MAT as the gold standard for treatment. Because of the opioid epidemic, MAT drugs are also used for newborns with NAS. Addiction, like diabetes or cancer, is a disease. By extension, MAT is like insulin or chemotherapy. Breaking the stigma around it can positively impact thousands of American families.

MAT is Not Just About Medicine

MAT, by definition, is most effective when medication supports counseling. Meds and therapy have more successful, long-term outcomes when combined than when used on their own. Inpatient prescription drugs addiction centers are optimal places for this whole-body process to begin.

There are four main elements to most MAT models of care:

  • Medicine
  • Education (i.e., teaching coping skills or medicine management)
  • Psychosocial Steps
  • Integrated Treatment

Who Needs the Prescription Drugs Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program?

If you’re showing signs of addiction, you urgently need help with an SUD. This can include medicated assisted treatment.

Some signs to look out for are:

  • You’ve developed a tolerance and need a bigger dose to feel similar effects.
  • You get powerful cravings for prescription drugs.
  • You’ve tried to reduce your intake but you can’t control your use despite its negative impact.
  • You dedicate a lot of time to getting drugs, using, and recovering from them.
  • Your drug use has caused legal problems. Using also affects your social life, your financial status, and your health.

What to Expect from the Prescription Drug Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Program?

Prescription drugs detox medications differ depending on the class of prescription meds you’re addicted to. There are various forms of these medications, which can include long-acting injections, implants, films and pills.

They work by doing one or more of the following:

  • Easing withdrawal symptoms
  • Preventing cravings
  • Blocking a sense of reward
  • Making you feel sick if you use


The first three drugs listed here are FDA-approved.

Methadone displaces abused opioids and reverses opioid withdrawal symptoms. If a patient keeps taking maintenance doses, the drug can heal some of the damage caused by a long-term OUD. One year is often considered a minimum for maintenance.

Methadone is restricted because of the drug’s high potential for abuse and overdose. Only approved prescription drugs abuse treatment centers can dispense it.

Buprenorphine (‘bupe’ for short) helps with pain in the initial stages of detox. Combinations of bupe and naloxone (like Suboxone) are also effective post-detox when the patient has been on MAT for some time.

Bupe has a so-called ceiling effect which lowers its misuse and overdose potential. So, this opioid drug is seen as being safer than methadone. As a result, it is more widely available and convenient to use.

Extended release Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids and is not addictive. The drug can prevent relapse. If you take opioids with it, you will feel unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. A full detox is necessary before you can take naltrexone, so it’s often easier to start taking bupe.

Clonidine is used off label. It is not an opioid and is, thus, more easily accessible. It doesn’t give you a high and has little potential for abuse. The drug can ease some opioid withdrawal symptoms. But it doesn’t help with strong cravings in the way that methadone does.


Just as with alcohol, withdrawing from drugs such as benzodiazepines (‘benzos’) is only safe in a setting with medical monitoring. This is because seizures and delirium are possible. MAT may mean a switch to long-acting benzos, clonazepam or phenobarbital. In the case of a benzo overdose, your stomach may have to be pumped. You may be given flumazenil too.


Withdrawal from amphetamines can result in depression and suicidal thoughts. MAT might then include trying SSRIs or beta-blockers. Insomnia and fatigue can also be an issue. So your doctor may prescribe something to help you sleep or something to make you feel less tired.

At present, there is no medication approved in any country to treat stimulant use disorders. But, over the last 10 years, studies have found that certain drugs such as modafinil and MPH can help with withdrawals and cravings. This paves the way for counseling sessions to be more effective.

In longer cases of withdrawal, replacement therapy may be necessary. MAT would work in much the same way as it does for OUDs, just with different meds. Your doctor will assess whether you are a candidate for these drugs.

The Prescription Drugs Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Process

After your initial screening and interview, your care team will know:

  • How long you’ve had access to prescription drugs
  • Whether polydrug use is involved
  • If you have any co-occurring mental and medical conditions.

They will form a patient-specific treatment plan that considers unique factors and how your meds interact. If you had a preexisting mood disorder or chronic pain, MAT can attend to these issues. With qualified specialists at assisted rehab, a prescription drugs dual diagnosis is treatable with low risks.

An opioid prescription drug cleanse includes drugs that treat symptoms such as insomnia, nausea, loose stools and cramps. If you’re dehydrated or your nutrition intake has been poor, you will be given electrolytes and supplements. During the first 24 hours of detox, you may need bed rest.

Tapering Your Dosage

For a drug such as methadone, the initial dosage during detox depends on how much you’re used to taking. Over the course of a few days, this amount drops. Every time your dose changes, doctors check how you respond. If you are not managing, the dose may go back to the last one you were fine with.

Addiction specialists know to look out for possible dishonesty. Patients who are familiar with the methods of prescription drugs rehab programs can lie about their regular dosage. This is why a challenge dose followed by a thorough physical exam is so important during detox. Overdosing on methadone can put you into a coma or kill you.

If you fail a detox attempt with one type of medicine, your doctor may prescribe another if possible. What works for one person may not be helpful for the next. Having clinicians who can safely provide different options is key to making sobriety stick.

At some point in the future when you feel mentally strong enough, you may want to quit using methadone or another maintenance drug. Your doctor can taper your dosage and help you manage withdrawal symptoms.

Why Choose Bedrock?

Bedrock Recovery Center employs board-certified specialists to give you excellent care. We can help you take the first crucial step in your recovery journey. As one of the best prescription drugs rehab centers in Massachusetts, we take pride in providing unmatched support to patients.

Our detox and inpatient programs use evidence-based methods to ensure you get treatment that’s tailored to your needs. We offer a holistic program that includes healthy recreation activities and therapy that works. And if you’re looking for medication-assisted treatment in Massachusetts, we are here for you.

Bedrock provides an ideal start to a new life. Contact us today to find out more about our services.

Written by Bedrock Recovery Center Editorial Team

© 2023 Bedrock Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved

* This page does not provide medical advice.

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