Medication-Assisted Treatment: The Drugs That Help Addiction


“With medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which is using a medicine to treat a disease, success rates are over 70 percent – 70 percent of people will be abstinent in one year.”

~ Raj Masih, the Potomac Highland Guild’s Substance Abuse Anti-Stigma Initiative

The National Center on Addiction and Substance reports that greater than 1 in 7 Americans over the age of 11 have a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). Unfortunately, just over 10% ever receive the professional help they need.

One top recovery strategy is Medication-Assisted Treatment, also known as MAT. This is the use of behavioral counseling and other evidence-based treatment options, supported by certain FDA-approved medications. Numerous studies have conclusively demonstrated that this combination is highly effective at:

  • Preventing relapse
  • Reducing cravings
  • Easing withdrawal symptoms
  • Limiting death from relapse

In other words, MAT supports long-term recovery.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the prescriptions offered during MAT.


This list of anti-addiction medications is presented for information only. Talk to your doctor and/or treatment team to see which MAT options are right for you.

  • Acamprosate (Campral) – Reduces alcohol cravings in patients who have already stopped drinking.
  • Baclofen – When given “off-label”, this muscle relaxant, which possesses both anxiety-relieving and sedating properties, helps patients remain abstinent from alcohol. In one study, 71% of people given baclofen for more than 3 months are able to stay alcohol-free.
  • Benzodiazepines (Librium, Valium, Valium, etc.) – These drugs, which are often prescribed for insomnia or anxiety, alleviate the dangerous, potentially-fatal symptoms of alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
  • Buprenorphine (Subutex) – This drug both stimulates and blocks the brain’s opioid receptors. Buprenorphine reduces cravings, eases opioid withdrawal, helps people remain in treatment, and reduces opioid overdose deaths.
  • Buprenorphine and Naloxone (Suboxone) – The addition of naloxone deters abuse of this medication.
  • Bupropion (Zyban, Wellbutrin) – This antidepressant reduces nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Significantly, up to 85% of alcohol-dependent patients are also dependent on nicotine. When given “off-label” bupropion curbs cocaine cravings and lessens the depression experienced during cocaine detoxification.
  • Buspirone (Buspar) – This medication, typically given for anxiety, increases the benefits of antidepressants. Depression is a major withdrawal symptom.
  • Carbamazepine (Tegretol) – This anti-epileptic is sometimes given to patients who have previously been unsuccessful at detoxing from alcohol.
  • Clonidine (Catapres)– This nonaddictive drug helps with opioid withdrawal by blocking adrenaline in the brain. When combined with buprenorphine, longer-term clonidine use helps patients reduce stress during opioid recovery.   Up to 85% of patients given both successfully complete treatment.
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)—This aversion medication supports total abstinence from alcohol. If a patient consumes ANY amount of alcohol they become violently ill in less than five minutes.
  • Folic acid (Vitamin B9)—Reduces depression during recovery from alcoholism.
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin) – Typically prescribed for neuropathic pain, anxiety, or seizures, this non-opioid increases the number of alcohol-free days and decreases the frequency of heavy consumption on drinking days.

This list concludes in Part 2.

As the most trusted rehab program in Orange County, Chapman House Treatment Centers utilizes evidence-based treatment options such as MAT. If you are ready to break free from your addiction, contact Chapman House TODAY.

by Albert Fontenot


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