What is MAT?
Understanding what heroin does in the brain and in the body is crucial to understanding why medication-assisted treatment “MAT” works.
MAT can work in one of two ways.
Doctors can give people opiates that activate the same receptors but are absorbed into the blood and attach to the same receptors as opiates attach to— staving off withdrawal symptoms and breaking a psychological link between taking a drug and immediately feeling high. MAT, for example, Buprenorphine or Methadone.
Doctors can also give someone an opioid antagonist — a non-opioid drug that sits on those same receptors and blocks them — so that if someone relapses, he or she won’t feel anything as the receptors are blocked by the medication. MAT, for example, Naloxone or Naltrexone.
MAT could be thought of as substituting one opiate for another and doctors think this is good. Why?? The drug that we’re replacing (Heroin) is a dangerous one that will kill you, and we’re replacing it with a drug that allows you to go back to work and have money in your pocket and allow you to live normally again.
MAT also decreases the risk of relapse — significantly.
MAT has been shown to be effective in preventing infectious diseases like HIV.
MAT medication-assisted therapy has been shown to be effective in preventing overdoses.
What about Psychotherapy? It has been shown that MAT alone is effective but as with any chronic disease such as diabetes or hypertension, we tell people to exercise and lose weight and quit smoking and don’t eat salt in their diet, watch what and how much to eat and take medications regularly. Similarly working with the team of experts also improves your chances of controlling your condition better and reducing relapses.