MAT for alcohol use disorder

How does MAT for alcohol use disorder work?

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Alcohol use disorder is a disease that can be characterized by uncontrolled drinking, and a compulsion surrounding alcohol. The number of Americans who struggle with alcohol is staggering, and very few of those who struggle actually overcome their addiction to alcohol. Many people try over and over again to get and remain sober, to no avail. In instances like this, or even for the person trying to get sober for the first time, using MAT for alcohol use disorder could be beneficial.

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a form of help for alcohol use disorder where there are medications, taken as prescribed and used in conjunction with counseling and behavioral therapies to treat the person as a whole. Treating the physical as well as the mental aspect of addiction is vital to successful recovery when using MAT as a form of treatment.

These medications can help to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms associated with alcohol use disorder, as well as help to get through cravings without picking up another drink. However, they are not a cure for alcoholism. Three of the more commonly used medications in MAT for alcohol use disorder are Disulfiram, Naltrexone, and Acamprosate. Understanding these medications, what they do, and possible side effects can help to provide a guideline when deciding whether MAT is the right path for you.


Disulfiram is commonly used in the early stages of recovery, preferably after detoxification has occurred. It is a tablet taken once a day. When using Disulfiram in MAT for alcohol use disorder, you should not take it within 12 hours of having a drink. Doing so can result in side effects such as headaches, nausea, vomiting, chest pains and/or difficulty breathing.

Even the slightest amount of alcohol can trigger the onset of these symptoms. It is best to not consume alcohol while taking this medication. This medication does not cure alcoholism. However, it can discourage drinking in those taking it, and in turn allowing for them to find some relief from their addiction.


Naltrexone has the ability to hinder those taking it from feeling the euphoric sensations associated with drinking alcohol. In order Tegin taking this medication, one must not be dependent on alcohol. Prescribers tend to wait until detox is finished before beginning a regimen of Naltrexone in MAT for alcohol use disorder.

When considering taking Naltrexone, you should speak with the prescriber about all current prescriptions, the possibility of pregnancy or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, medical conditions, as well as any allergies to the medications you may have. 


Using Acamprosate in MAT for alcohol use disorder helps rewire the brain chemistry. Alcohol use can alter the brain’s chemistry and how it functions. This medication helps the brain to return to normal functionality. Acamprosate helps people to remain sober, but it does not help with withdrawal symptoms. Offered in tablet form, this medication is taken three times a day, typically beginning on the fifth day of sobriety. What’s more, it takes five to eight days after beginning the medication to take effect. Again, discussion of current medications, health conditions, and any allergies should take place before starting the regimen. 

The Risks of MAT For Alcohol Use Disorder

MAT is meant to be used as a supplement to behavioral therapies of traditional alcohol use disorder treatment. MAT does not cure the addiction that brought you to seeking treatment. Although proven to be very effective in the treatment of alcoholism, there are risks involved with using MAT for alcohol use disorder. 

Like any medication, there is the potential of experiencing negative side effects, especially if the person taking the medication continues to consume alcohol. Headaches, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness are common side effects of these medications. There is also the risk of misuse of these medications. When this happens, it can derail the person taking it from the path they set on in the beginning. 

Medical supervision is vital to avoiding these risks. Having a professional to guide you through the process helps create success for those seeking help. Being able to identify and address the negative side effects can provide for safe recovery.

Finding Help in Southern California

If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, we can help. Here at Ocean Hills, we strive to provide individualized and personalized care to help those struggling to overcome their problem. Contact us today and begin your journey to a new life, free from drugs and alcohol.

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