Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
MAT, a gold standard in treating addiction, is a core service at Sun Health Centers. This approach integrates FDA-approved medications with counseling and behavioral therapies and has proven therapeutically effective for people in recovery from alcohol, heroin, and painkiller pills. Our doctors specialize in providing the full spectrum of MATs, including Suboxone Maintenance, and Vivitrol, which together with behavioral therapies have restored the light of health and quality of life for many patients.
MAT management over an extended period of time can sometimes be hard to sustain for patients with work and family demands—but not at Sun Health, where we also provide online MAT. Thanks to our TeleHealth services, patients can receive counseling and behavioral therapies, as well as some follow-up, medical appointments, from the privacy and convenience of their own home. As a result, they’re better equipped to successfully continue in a healthy recovery lifestyle that incorporates Suboxone or another MAT with evidence-based therapies.
“Before I came to Sun Health, I was addicted to heroin and had tried to quit multiple times. I also had been through multiple rehab programs. They ranged from abstinence-only to a program that offered short-term Suboxone, but every time I tried to get clean, the cravings would pull me back. In one case, I almost overdosed. At one point I tried short-term Suboxone: It helped, but after I had been tapered off of it, I was soon back in that dark place of addiction. That’s when I reached out Sun Health, having heard about their Suboxone Maintenance program. They educated me on the phases of long-term maintenance, and I’ve been on Suboxone ever since. It has given me back my life. Thank you, Sun Health!”– Rich
What Is MAT and How Does It Work?
MAT is the use of a medication that dulls the cravings associated with withdrawal in early recovery for people with substance use disorders (SUDs). These cravings can be so painful and uncomfortable, depending on the drug, that they precipitate relapse (and, in turn, other dangers like overdose). Since MATs curb the intensity of these physiological withdrawal symptoms, they reduce relapse risks and help save lives.
At Sun Health, MATs are prescribed by an addiction-certified psychiatrist who is qualified to dispense and manage these medications, as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling, via teletherapy. Depending on the MAT and their individual treatment needs, patients can receive these medications within the privacy and comfort of our doctor’s offices. For long-term, medication management, telemedicine may also be an option for patients (depending on the MAT and other factors).
MAT gained its name as a treatment for opiate addictions like heroin and prescription painkillers. In these cases, there is evidence to suggest MATs can actually help normalize brain chemistry and body functioning in the aftermath of these drugs. MATs work by blocking the same opioid receptors that opiates and alcohol activate, in essence shutting down the pleasurable response these substances once delivered.
What MATs Are Available at Sun Health?
Patients at Sun Health can receive the following MATs, which have helped many people in our care achieve lasting recovery from alcohol, heroin, and prescription painkillers:
- Suboxone Maintenance for longer-term management of the medication Suboxone, which reduces opiate withdrawal symptoms in early recovery and helps people achieve and maintain abstinence from heroin and painkiller drugs.
- Vivitrol (naltrexone), which at Sun Health is primarily medication-assisted alcohol treatment—(although it has also been used for patients in recovery from opiates)—is conveniently available as a once-monthly injection following detox.
How MAT Improves Recovery Outcomes
The scientific evidence suggests MAT improves recovery outcomes. By “recovery outcomes,” we of course mean better treatment results for the patients in our care:
- An increased life expectancy
- A decrease in drug use
- Increased treatment retention—a predictor of better recovery prospects
But recovery outcomes also include things like how well patients are doing in life after rehab and in their job and family life. MAT has been a proven support for patients in this arena also, by:
- increasing patients’ ability to be hired and stay in a job
- helping pregnant women with SUDs achieve healthier birth outcomes