Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a "whole-patient" approach to the treatment of substance use disorders. Medications used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and MAT programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each patient's needs.

Research shows that a combination of medication and therapy can successfully treat these disorders, and for some people struggling with addiction, MAT can help sustain recovery. MAT is also used to prevent or reduce opioid overdose

MAT is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers that contain opiates. The prescribed medication operates to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative and euphoric effects of the substance used.

MAT Effectiveness In 2018, an estimated 2 million people had an opioid use disorder which includes prescription pain medication containing opiates and heroin.

MAT has proved to be clinically effective and to significantly reduce the need for inpatient detoxification services for these individuals. MAT provides a more comprehensive,
individually tailored program of medication and behavioral therapy that address the needs of most patients. The ultimate goal of MAT is full recovery, including the ability to live a self-directed life. This treatment approach has been shown to:

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increase patients' ability to gain and maintain employment
  • Improve birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant
Research also shows that these medications and therapies can contribute to lowering a person's risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C by reducing the potential for relapse. Learn more about substance misuse and how it relates to HIV, AIDS, and Viral Hepatitis.

MAT Medications

FDA has approved several different medications to treat alcohol and opioid use disorders MAT medications relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. Medications used for MAT are evidence-based treatment options and do not just substitute one drug for another.

Alcohol Use Disorder Medications

Acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone are the most common medications used to treat alcohol use disorder. They do not provide a cure for the disorder, but are most effective in people who participate in a MAT program. Learn more about the impact of alcohol misuse.

· Opioid Dependency Medications Buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone are used to treat opioid use disorders to short-acting opioids such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone. These MAT medications are safe to use for months, years, or even a lifetime. As with any medication, consult your doctor before discontinuing use.

· Opioid Overdose Prevention Medication Naloxone is used to prevent opioid overdose by reversing the toxic effects of the overdose. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), naloxone is one of a number of medications considered essential to a functioning health care system.


Level 0.5 service is a Driving under the Influence (DUI) program, the length of service is often determined by program rules and law, and completion of the program may be required for reinstitution of driving privileges or removal of charges from their criminal record. Level 0.5

program services encompass educational programs for groups such as DUI (Driving under the Influence) offenders and other populations with increased risk (other substance use -related offenses).

Interventions offered at Level 0.5 may involve individuals, group, or family counseling, SBIRT services, as well as planned educational experiences focused on helping the individual recognize and avoid harmful or high‐risk substance use and/or addictive behavior. Prior to admission, a diagnostic assessment is to be performed to determine whether the person meets the diagnostic admission criteria of Level 0.5, which requires that a person does not meet diagnostic criteria of a substance use disorder. If the assessment of such an individual indicates a need for more intensive treatment than Level 0.5 services, refer to a program that provides more intensive, clinically appropriate level of care such as outpatient services.

Level 1: Outpatient Services

Level 1 outpatient services are designed to treat the individual's level of clinical severity and function. They can help individuals achieve permanent changes in their alcohol and drug dependence and in their mental and physical health functioning. Persons being admitted to Level 1 must have met at least 2 of the diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder as described in DSM‐5. To accomplish this, Level 1 services must address major lifestyle, attitudinal, and behavioral issues that have the potential to undermine the goal of well ness and recovery or inhibit the individual's ability to cope with major life tasks without the non‐medical use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs, a pathological involvement with gambling, or with other addictive behaviors. Mental health or general health care treatment personnel provide professionally directed screening, evaluation, treatment, and ongoing recovery and disease management services. Such services are provided in regularly scheduled sessions and follow a defined set of policies and procedures or medical protocols. Services can also include counseling and psychosocial therapies for substance related and co‐occurring disorders offered by professionals who specialize in addiction care or by other health care and mental health professionals.

Level 2.1 Intensive Outpatient

Level 2.1 encompasses services that are capable of meeting the complex needs of people with addictions and co‐occurring conditions. It is an organized outpatient service that delivers treatment services during the day, before or after work or school, or in the evening. For appropriately selected patients, such programs provide essential education and treatment components while allowing patients to apply their newly acquired skills within real world environments. Programs have the capacity to arrange for medical and psychiatric consultation, psychopharmacological consultation, addiction medication management, and 24‐hour crisis services, if those services are not already designed to be components of the Level 2.1 service. Level 2.1 programs provide comprehensive biopsychosocial assessments and individualized service plans and can address multiple co‐occurring issues. Including formulation of problem or need statements. Measurable treatment goals and specific strategies and methods‐all developed in collaboration with the patients.


Many adults have a mental illness and a substance use disorder (co-occurring disorder). When this is present, integrated care is recommended.
The presence of two or more disorders can complicate diagnosis and treatment. Integrating both screening and treatment for mental and substance use disorders leads to a better quality of care and health outcomes for those living with co-occurring disorders by treating the whole person.

Diagnosing and Providing Integrated Treatments

People with co-occurring disorders are more likely to be hospitalized than people with a mental or substance use disorder alone. Integrated treatment coordinates mental and substance use interventions by linking people to other providers who can deliver individualized and personalized services to treat the physical and emotional aspects of mental and substance use disorders.

Integrated Treatment Leads to Better Outcomes

Together with early detection, integrated treatment can improve outcomes and quality of life for people with co-occurring disorders, including:

  • Reduced or discontinued substance use
  • Improvement in psychiatric symptoms and functioning
  • Increased chance for successful treatment and recovery for both disorders
  • Improved quality of life
  • Decreased hospitalization
  • Reduced medication interactions
  • Increased housing stability
  • Fewer arrests
Summit Counseling Services utilizes an integrated approach for these clients utilizing our competent and professionally licensed therapists and addiction counseling team.