What is MAT?
Medications for Addiction Treatment (MAT) is the use of medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in combination with counseling, to treat Substance Use Disorders. This method has proven to be effective, resulting in fewer overdoses and a sustainable recovery. Some medications are used to treat Opioid Use Disorders and others are for Alcohol Use Disorders.
Cravings are caused by a strong need to use a substance and can impact a person’s quality of life and put them at risk for relapse. Cravings may feel stronger when somebody sees certain people, places or things that remind them of their past use. This is called a “trigger”.
Minimize Withdrawal Symptoms
If a person uses substances regularly, their brain may start to depend on it and people may not feel “normal” when they stop using (withdrawal). For substances like opioids, the withdrawal symptoms can be so uncomfortable that the person keeps using even if they don’t want to. For substances like alcohol, withdrawal can be both uncomfortable and deadly.
Substance Use Disorders can be difficult to treat. Research shows that MAT helps people cut back on substance use or stop using a substance completely, helping people achieve and maintain their recovery.
How does MAT Work?
In the same way that medication can treat other chronic diseases, medication can also treat some substance use disorders. Combined with behavioral health treatment, and recovery support, MAT supports people in achieving and staying in recovery.
Many people may need help cutting back or stopping their substance use. They can get this help through treatment with MAT. Taking MAT is no different than taking a medication to control diabetes or heart disease. MAT helps people get back to a normal state of mind. It also helps people cope with withdrawal symptoms and cravings, allowing them to live a healthy life. Taking medications for substance use disorders does not cause a new addiction. It is not the same as switching from one drug to another. It helps patients manage their addiction and maintain recovery. Treatment with medication can help people stop drinking alcohol or using opioid drugs like heroin and other prescription drugs such as Vicodin®, OxyContin®, and Percocet® .
All providers in the DPH-SAPC network offer MAT services directly or provide a referral for MAT services.
For Opioid Addiction
Methadone reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It comes in liquid, pill or wafer form and must be taken daily.
Buprenorphine can be an effective option to reduce opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and is generally safer than other opioids. It may also work well for those who cannot visit a clinic every day.
Naltrexone takes away the high that someone feels when they take an opioid. It is taken as a daily pill or once a month as a shot and can be prescribed by anyone who is licensed to prescribe medication.
Naloxone can be used to prevent opioid overdoses. It is given in a nasal spray or shot. People can obtain Naloxone through a health provider, local pharmacy or LA County CORE Center and receive training to use it safely on someone who is having an opioid overdose.
For Alcohol Addiction
Acamprosate is for people who are in recovery and want to avoid drinking. It is typically taken three times a day.
Naltrexone takes away the good feeling that people get when they drink. It is typically taken as a daily pill or a monthly shot.
Disulfiram blocks the body’s ability to process alcohol and can make someone very sick if they drink. It’s typically taken once a day.
Let’s Demystify MAT
There are many misconceptions about MAT. Some of the most common myths are outlined in the table below.
How to Access MAT
MAT are covered by Medi-Cal and other health insurance plans In Los Angeles County. People who aren’t on an insurance plan can get help enrolling.
Those who are 26 years of age or older but don’t qualify for Medi-Cal or Covered California can visit the My Health LA website: http://dhs.lacounty.gov/wps/portal/dhs/coverageoptions/myhealthla
For a list of primary care community clinics not contracted with LA County DPH that offer free or low cost MAT, please visit: http://losangelesmat.org