At Gateway Foundation, we provide various evidence-based treatment methods for clients. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is just one of these programs, where the goal is to use medications for a more comprehensive treatment plan. For many clients, medications can be critical to their long-term health and recovery. Learning about medication-assisted treatment program policies and procedures can help you decide if it’s the right option.
Medication-assisted treatment programs involve the use of medications and counseling to provide a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment. MAT is primarily used on clients with opioid use disorders (OUDs) but can also benefit people with alcohol use disorder (AUD). The whole-client approach first aims to help people with withdrawal symptoms and cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. That way, they can feel more comfortable and focused on recovery.
Effectively addressing substance use requires a collaborative approach. Addiction and mental health care providers will create a MAT program considering your unique medical history, symptoms, needs, and recovery goals. They’ll adjust medications and dosages as needed to keep you comfortable and supported during recovery.
Medications used in these programs are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and clinically driven and adjusted to meet each client’s needs. The medications used in this integrated treatment help normalize brain chemistry by blocking the effects of alcohol and opioids, reducing physical cravings, and treating withdrawal symptoms.
Medications in addiction treatment have been shown to successfully treat substance use disorders and help sustain recovery. Medication can also prevent or reduce overdoses, making it crucial for many people struggling with substance use.
Medication-assisted treatment program goals are to help clients safely get through withdrawal and fully recover, including living an independent and fulfilling life. The treatment approach has been shown to provide the following benefits:
Naltrexone, buprenorphine, and methadone are three FDA-approved medications that can improve client survival rates. By administering these life-saving medications at the correct time, they can reverse adverse outcomes caused by opioid use and even prevent fatal overdose.
Regarding OUD, naloxone is a prescribed medication that can prevent overdose by reversing its toxic effects. According to the World Health Organization, naloxone is one of many crucial medications to a functioning healthcare system. Clients can sustain their recovery and prevent the fatal outcomes of substance use.
Research shows that MAT can also improve birth outcomes among pregnant women struggling with addiction. More specifically, medical professionals deem buprenorphine and methadone safe for pregnant people.
Medication-assisted treatment program goals include determining the proper medications to reduce substance cravings or uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Inpatient MAT programs add a layer of support, including 24/7 supervision and a substance-free environment to avoid triggers. One study found that after one year post-MAT enrollment, 84% of participants abstained from opioids, and 62% stopped using all illicit substances.
Medications can help you feel more comfortable and avoid withdrawal, making you more likely to stick with treatment and focus on your recovery. Many clients who undergo MAT feel more comfortable and safer with the assistance of medical professionals and other staff.
Factors of MAT that can contribute to higher retention rates include:
Maintaining a substance-free lifestyle is often a lifelong commitment, and MAT can support your ongoing recovery efforts. Medications can help reduce cravings and lower your risk of relapse. Combined with therapy and learning healthy coping tools, MAT can be crucial to your long-term recovery. Some people can gain and maintain employment and live healthy lives without medical supervision following MAT.
Research also shows these medications can lower a person’s risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C by reducing the potential for relapse. Ultimately, MAT is a comprehensive program that addresses all aspects of a person’s addiction, including their medical, psychological, and physical health needs. Clients might experience a more successful treatment outcome when each component is cared for.
There are three FDA-approved medications for MAT — methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. When you enter an addiction treatment center, you’ll first undergo a medication-assisted treatment program evaluation, where professionals will determine the correct type of medication for you.
Methadone is approved by the FDA to treat OUD and pain and can be part of an inpatient or outpatient MAT program. Each day, you’ll receive medication in pill, liquid, or wafer form. Methadone is a full agonist drug, meaning it provokes the same brain receptors as opioids, tricking the brain into thinking it has received an opiate dose. That way, you don’t experience withdrawal symptoms or cravings, making reducing and stopping substance use easier.
Clients taking methadone must receive it under the supervision of a practitioner. After a time of stability, clients might be allowed to take methadone at home between treatment visits. While some clients can take methadone for under a year, some might require long-term maintenance. The medication is tailored specifically to you, ensuring doses are adjusted and readjusted appropriately.
When taken as prescribed, the medication is safe and effective, helping clients achieve and sustain recovery and reclaim more fulfilling active lives.
Buprenorphine is another FDA-approved medication that treats opioid use disorder that can be prescribed or dispensed in physician offices. Like all MAT medications, buprenorphine should be prescribed as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. You can receive this medication weekly or monthly at home from a licensed clinician.
Buprenorphine is a partial agonist, meaning it works like an agonist but has weaker brain effects. Taking daily as a tablet or administered by implant or injection can reduce withdrawal symptoms and drug cravings. Buprenorphine can help increase safety in cases of overdose and lower the potential for misuse.
After you no longer have cravings or are experiencing a few side effects, physicians can adjust your buprenorphine dosage. Once stabilized, clients might switch from everyday treatment to alternate-day dosing. The duration of time a client receives this medication is individualized to each person. Some clients might take it as part of their ongoing treatment — with or without MAT to prevent relapse.
Naltrexone is FDA-approved to treat both OUD and AUD. It works as an agonist, blocking any opioid symptoms and side effects on the brain. Even if someone relapses while taking naltrexone, they wouldn’t experience the effects of the opioids, making it less likely for them to continue taking them. The medication is administered as a daily pill or monthly injection prescribed by a physician in a professional addiction treatment program.
Naltrexone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids like morphine, heroin, and codeine. It also binds to opioid receptors in the brain to reduce and suppress cravings. When taken for AUD, practitioners typically wait until after detox to administer naltrexone, and then treatment lasts three to four months. It binds to endorphin receptors to block the effects and feelings of alcohol, reducing cravings and helping clients maintain a substance-free lifestyle.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, you likely have questions about how MAT programs can help. Here are a few common questions Gateway receives about our medication-assisted treatment program in Illinois:
At Gateway, we offer MAT in combination with other levels of care in several locations across Illinois. Each type of program across the state includes evidence-based treatment programs and a comprehensive approach.
Our physicians and health professionals administer medications and monitor their use to ensure you are safe and comfortable throughout the MAT program. Additionally, each location provides behavioral therapy and counseling to support overall recovery.
You might also be a suitable candidate for virtual outpatient treatment, allowing you to access addiction support online. This option provides even greater flexibility and accessibility, especially for anyone balancing their recovery with personal and professional obligations. Our online addiction treatment will follow a similar approach as our inpatient treatment options, allowing you to access crucial therapy from the comfort of your home.
The right therapy program depends on your unique needs, situation, and recovery goals. Most MAT programs incorporate behavioral therapy programs and peer support groups to provide a more integrative treatment.
Depending on your provider, insurance may cover some or all of MAT. Federal law mandates that health insurance companies cover mental health services, including substance use disorder programs.
The level of coverage varies depending on your provider, employer, and individual situation. Some plans may not cover all three FDA-approved medications for addiction. Others that provide coverage may require an authorization process from the client and physician before administering these medications.
The length of your MAT program will vary depending on the medication used and your individual needs. Clients receiving methadone might be advised to stay in therapy for at least one year. After the first few months of methadone treatment, professionals will likely reduce your dosage until you have achieved a maintenance level amount. Over time, physicians might reduce even more until you no longer need the methadone.
As for buprenorphine, the treatment timelines might be just a few months or several years. When you can manage and sustain your sobriety for a specific amount of time, physicians might lower the dosage to a maintenance level, similar to methadone treatment. The dose might also be tapered for the next six months as you complete therapy.
The common treatment timeline for naltrexone is around two months. At Gateway, you’ll work with medical professionals to determine when medication is no longer needed. They can also help you safely withdraw.
Medication-assisted treatment programs are helpful for people recovering from addiction. Promising research shows that MAT, along with behavioral therapy and counseling, can produce more significant results than other forms of addiction treatment. MAT also tends to reduce risky behavior, such as sharing needles, leading to lower HIV and Hepatitis C infection rates.
MAT is most effective for people with substance use that involves prescription opioids like codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone, and illicit opiates like heroin. It can also help people with AUD. Medications can reduce cravings and help clients with physical, mental, and emotional symptoms during withdrawal, helping them stick with recovery.
While MAT focuses on individual needs, it also creates a foundation of support from staff, peers, friends, and family to help clients achieve their lifelong recovery goals.
Medication-assisted treatment programs provide a more comprehensive, whole-person approach to addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling, Gateway’s medication-assisted treatment program in Illinois can help you achieve and maintain a rewarding, substance-free lifestyle.
We offer various therapies, including dual diagnosis treatment, to identify underlying conditions. Our therapists can help you discover the root of your addiction, while physicians can administer life-saving medications to support your recovery.
To learn more about our medication-assisted treatment programs, contact us today.
Gateway was one of the best decisions of my life they truly saved me from the road I was headed down! I would love to thank the staff and of course my amazing counselor Adrain really helped me refocus my life on the right path without gateway I wouldn’t have made it thank you and I love this place I always come back to alumni meeting and events.
My family member just competed her 28 day stay she had a great experience the staff is wonderful and treated her with respect and went above and beyond to help her. Gateway saved my family members life. It was not easy finding a nice inpatient rehab and gateway made the whole process very smooth we are so thankful we found this facility. Thank you gateway.
Spent some time here and got some great tools to help me in my recovery. My counselors in the women’s unit were great and supportive. Love the monthly alumni meetings after treatment, great way to stay connected.
A little over 7 years ago I decided to seek treatment for alcohol and drug addiction and chose this facility as a place to try and arrest my disease and I have been clean and sober ever since. After 30 days inpatient treatment and 9 months outpatient I was able to achieve that goal. I recommend this facility to anyone who truly wants freedom from active addiction.
This place honestly saved my life. I was so bad my counselor said in the 2 years she was working there my case was the most unique she’s ever had, and now I’m almost 15 months clean!