Medical Detox vs MAT

Entering the addiction treatment journey can feel daunting, both for those suffering from addiction and their families, so understanding how the treatment process works — and the support offered at each stage — is comforting.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) recognizes five stages of primary treatment. These are:

  1. Early intervention
  2. Outpatient services
  3. Intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization
  4. Inpatient/residential services
  5. Medically managed intensive inpatient services.

Medical detox usually occurs within the early intervention phase and can support people to manage withdrawal symptoms successfully.

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) may support any of the other phases and helps people control their cravings.

And in the comparison if Medical Detox vs Medication Assisted Treatment, both these interventions are important.

Fear of experiencing withdrawal symptoms can delay or prevent people from entering addiction treatment. And — once sober — the ability to manage cravings successfully is critical for remaining abstinent.

What is Medical Detox?

Medical detoxification clears addictive substances, such as alcohol and opiates, from the body and brain. Medical detox is used for the management of acute intoxication and subsequent withdrawal symptoms.

There are three parts to the detox process:

  • Evaluation. Individuals receive a blood test to check the type and level of substances. Screening for other conditions and a comprehensive assessment of medical, psychological, and social factors is conducted. This helps inform an initial treatment plan.
  • Stabilization. In this phase, the individual is supported to remain in a substance-free state. Medication can help achieve this. Clients are also given information on what to expect during future treatment.
  • Cultivating readiness. The detoxification process is the initial step in a broader treatment plan. It is not designed to tackle the underlying issues that led to substance abuse. At this stage, medical staff prepare individuals to enter a longer-term treatment plan to address the psychological, social, or behavioral issues that contributed to the addiction.

What is MAT?

During the recovery process, chemical imbalances can cause withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that make adhering to a treatment plan more challenging.

Medication assisted treatment (MAT) uses FDA-approved medications to balance brain and body chemistry and improve the chances of continued sobriety.

The use of medication happens alongside other interventions, such as counseling and behavioral therapies.

What is the difference between Medical Detox and MAT?

While both medical detox and MAT use medications to support individuals, the main difference is the treatment stage.

Medical detox is used at the start of a more comprehensive treatment plan to clear addictive substances from the brain and body. Medical staff help prepare individuals for the commitment of longer-term treatment.

MAT is provided during inpatient or outpatient treatment to help manage withdrawal symptoms and block cravings. It is used as a complement to other therapies.

We understand that tackling addiction is challenging. For a comprehensive assessment by our expertly trained staff, contact us today.