What are the Benefits and Differences of Oral MAT and MAT Injections?

Michelle Rosenker

August 9, 2019

Medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, has proven to be the most effective form of opioid addiction treatment we now have. With a comprehensive approach, those in recovery can get the physical and psychological care they need once they substances. A major part of that care is determining what kind of medication will work best for the client based on his or her needs.

There are a handful of medications approved for use in addiction treatment facilities to address these needs, including oral and injectable medication. Each medication offers different benefits, which is why it’s helpful to have a working knowledge about oral and injectable medications in MAT.

Benefits of Oral MAT  

  • Arguably the most helpful benefit of taking oral MAT medications is that the majority can be taken immediately after opioid use has stopped. There is no waiting period for those who can benefit from Suboxone or methadone, because, in MAT, clients are usually prescribed these medications early on in their recovery to assist with the detox period.
  • Clients are given the opportunity to change their medication if desired (or if it proves medically necessary) as soon as it’s deemed appropriate. For example, someone who has been using methadone from the beginning of their treatment can switch to Suboxone as he or she gains skills and confidence in recovery. As with other medications, the ability to switch things up can improve the health and wellbeing of the client.
  • The physical act of acquiring oral medication for opioid use disorder while in recovery is a benefit in and of itself. While it might sometimes be inconvenient to have to regularly visit a facility to get whichever oral medication is needed, it can help keep clients accountable in their recovery. Sometimes, simply knowing that one or more people are expecting you to do something—like showing up to get your oral medication—can be enough to keep one focused on his or her long-term goals.

Benefits of MAT Injections

  • Injectable medications offer clients a “set it and forget it” option for their medication-assisted treatment. Clients who are prescribed an injectable medication like Vivitrol or Sublocade only have to see their provider once a month for a quick appointment where they receive an injection. The medication within the injection will release over the span of 30 days, allowing them to continue their lives without having to remember to take daily medication.
  • The risk of relapse is much lower for those who get their medication injected. Since the medication is already in their system, they are not going to give in to the idea of using again and stopping their medication, since there is no viable way of doing that.
  • There are two different types of injectable medications used to treat opioid use disorder: Vivitrol and Sublocade. They work differently, giving clients an option for care. For example, a client who is struggling with withdrawal symptoms caused by his or her opioid dependence can take Sublocade to assist him or her in easing those symptoms. Another client may want to focus on reducing the presence of cravings, which can be made possible through Vivitrol injections. Having this choice expands recovery options for those who need it most.

Nashville MAT

Differences Between Oral MAT and MAT Injections

When someone is participating in MAT, the medication that he or she takes plays a huge role in his or her overall treatment. Because there are both oral and injectable medications available in this type of treatment, it is important to understand their differences.

For starters, the route of administration of such medications is completely different. Oral medications are easily swallowed or come in a film strip that dissolves in the mouth, while injectable medications come in liquid form and are administered into the body via needle. Someone taking an oral medication can simply do so on his or her own (once the medication is acquired from a provider) while someone receiving injectable medications must have it administered by a professional.

Unlike oral medications, injectable medications are extended release medications, meaning that they continue to provide the client with the appropriate dose over a longer period of time. Oral medications are usually taken on a daily basis, because they do not continually release over time. Because of this, injectable medications are typically recommended to be used for up to a year so that their full effectiveness can be experienced. Oral medications do not have a time limit on the length of use, as they are effective as long as they are being taken.

Other differences between oral medications and injectables in MAT include the following:

  • Both FDA-approved injectable medications (Vivitrol and Sublocade) come in tablet form but oral medications are not available as injections.
  • The majority of insurance companies provide coverage for oral medications like Suboxone or methadone, but not as many offer that same type of coverage for injectable medications (and Sublocade can run upwards of $1,600 per injection).
  • Oral medications that are prescribed for those in MAT or who are in the maintenance stage of recovery are able to be taken at home when deemed appropriate, while injectable medications must be obtained in a professional healthcare setting.

If you are considering medication-assisted treatment, being as informed as possible about the type of medication you might take can help you make the best decision for your future.

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