Best Practice Overview

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a treatment approach that combines opioid addiction medications with best practice counseling / therapy and other recovery supports. It is considered the “Gold Standard” for treating opioid addiction.

A significant component of MAT is counseling and behavioral therapies, or “talk therapies.” These therapies are recommended in conjunction with medications because recovery from opioid addiction requires a person make changes in how they think, how they manage their emotions, and how they relate and interact with the supports in their life.

What is “therapy” or counseling?

Psychotherapy, also known as “therapy” or “talk therapy,” is when a person speaks with a trained therapist in a safe and confidential environment to explore and understand their feelings and behaviors, and learn new, healthier ways of coping.

In talk therapy a therapist may suggest talking about past or current problems, experiences, thoughts, feelings or relationships. While talking about these topics, a therapist may make connections, share insights and education, and teach skills and effective techniques for making and sustaining positive change.

Studies have found talk therapy to be effective at improving symptoms for a wide array of mental illnesses, including addiction. It can also be used for families, couples or groups.

How do I know what talk therapy is right for me?

Just as there are recommended medications for opioid addiction, there are several recommended talk therapies.

These therapies work to help a person, and their family, recover from the effects of addiction. And since addiction can cause damage to the psychological, emotional, behavioral, social and spiritual aspects of a person’s life – these therapies aim to help them heal across all these areas.

Many treatment programs, psychologists, counselors, and other mental health professionals will use more than one type of talk therapy or behavioral therapy to treat addiction issues. A rule of thumb is to find the treatment approach that best fits your needs, preferences, and lifestyle.

For instance, some people will prefer a Cognitive Behavioral Approach that focuses on teaching skills to identify and change unhelpful thoughts and behaviors. Other people will prefer to attend self-help groups or 12-step programs like AA or NA. While others will benefit from a community support program that teaches them and their loved ones how to interact with the world and each other in more meaningful ways.

Most people benefit from a combination of all of the above. Also some people may require one type of treatment early in recovery when they are trying to achieve sobriety, and yet another treatment after they are more stable and focused on maintaining sobriety.

In general, the most effective treatments are those that have been studied repeatedly and shown to help people make positive changes and reduce their use of substances.