Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Programs in Memphis, Tennessee

medication-assisted treatment MAT in Memphis

Recovering from the disease of addiction can be extremely difficult. Oftentimes, the idea of having to deal with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms during detox and cravings for substances in early recovery prevents people from receiving the help they need. Thankfully, an addiction treatment method known as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) can make recovery easier, safer, and much more comfortable.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) includes the use of FDA-approved medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies. This can provide you with a “whole-patient” approach to the treatment of addiction, creating a strong basis for long-term recovery.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration Services, MAT programs have been shown to:[1]

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders
  • Increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment
  • Improve birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant

If you are considering attending medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in Memphis, Tennessee, understanding how these programs work can help make your decision easier.

MAT Medications for Opioid Use Disorder

Medication-assisted treatment in Memphis, Tennessee employs the use of medications to reduce the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and prevent cravings from occurring. Some of these medications are used for the detoxification process, while others are effective in managing cravings and preventing relapse during early recovery.

It is important to note that MAT involves more than just the use of medication. All of the evidence-based practices used during traditional addiction treatment are implemented, such as behavioral therapy, peer support, and relapse prevention training.

The medications used to treat opioid use disorder in MAT include:[2]


Methadone is a full opioid agonist, meaning it binds to opioid receptors in the brain. This medication can prevent withdrawal symptoms from occurring while blocking the effects of other opioids, like heroin or oxycodone. Because of this, methadone is useful in both detox and early recovery.

During detox, methadone is used to limit the symptoms of withdrawal people experience. However, your medication-assisted treatment program may recommend that you continue taking methadone after detox to prevent cravings and relapse.

Oftentimes, methadone is used for up to one year. Once your doctor feels like you are ready to stop taking the medication, you will be tapered off of it over time.

Lucemyra (lofexidine)

Lucemyra is the brand name for lofexidine hydrochloride. This is the first non-opioid treatment for managing opioid withdrawal symptoms.

Lofexidine hydrochloride is an alpha-2 adrenergic agonist that binds to adrenergic neurons and lessens the release of norepinephrine. When you are experiencing opioid withdrawal, the symptoms are caused by an increase in norepinephrine. This is why Lucemyra is considered a highly effective detox medication for opioid addiction.[3]


Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, which means it blocks the opioid receptors in your brain. Because this medication blocks your opioid receptors, any opioid substances you attempt to take will not cause a euphoric effect. This is why naltrexone is often used as a relapse-prevention medication in MAT programs.

It is important to note that naltrexone should never be used during the detoxification process. This medication can induce the symptoms of opioid withdrawal. Due to this, doctors will only prescribe it if you have been opioid-free for at least 7 to 10 days.


Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it expels the opioids that are currently occupying your brain and blocks other opioids from attaching. Because it only partially binds to your opioid receptors, it does not create the same euphoric effect of other drugs, but just enough to suppress symptoms of withdrawal and cravings. This medication may be used during detox and early recovery.

FDA-approved brands of buprenorphine include:

  • Bunavail film (buprenorphine and naloxone)
  • Cassipa film (buprenorphine and naloxone)
  • Probuphine implant
  • Sublocade injection (extended-release injection of buprenorphine)
  • Suboxone film (buprenorphine and naloxone)
  • Subutex film or tablet (buprenorphine and naloxone)
  • Zubsolv tablet (buprenorphine and naloxone)

MAT Medications for Alcohol Use Disorder

Like opioid addiction, alcoholism can also be treated through the use of medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Additionally, these medications must be used in combination with behavioral therapies, peer support, and other forms of evidence-based addiction treatment methods for you to be successful in your recovery.

The medications used to treat alcohol use disorder include:[4]


Naltrexone is used to treat alcoholism in the same manner as it is for opioid addiction. To explain, when you consume alcohol it binds to your opioid receptors and creates a euphoric effect. Taking naltrexone after you complete alcohol detox can prevent you from relapsing, as the medication prevents anything from binding to opioid receptors in your brain.

In other words, naltrexone is used as a relapse-prevention medication for alcohol use disorder. The injectable form of naltrexone is called Vivitrol. This medication works in the same way but may be more convenient as you only have to take it once a month rather than daily.


Benzodiazepines are often used as a tapering medication during the alcohol withdrawal process.

When you are addicted to alcohol, your central nervous system is constantly depressed. This causes your brain to work in overdrive to function properly. When you suddenly stop drinking alcohol, your brain continues to work harder than it needs to, causing the symptoms of withdrawal to occur.

Benzodiazepines can stabilize your central nervous system during the withdrawal process, limiting the symptoms that you experience. Your doctor will gradually decrease the number of benzodiazepines you are taking until you complete detoxification.


Antabuse is the brand name for a substance known as disulfiram. This medication is used to prevent relapse after you have fully detoxed from alcohol. It works by blocking the processes of alcohol in your body, causing it to react badly to the consumption of the substance.


Acamprosate is a medication used in MAT programs that decreases your cravings and urges to use alcohol. It is important to note that this medication does not soothe the symptoms of withdrawal. Because of this, it is only used to maintain long-term sobriety after you have completed the detoxification process.

How Does Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Work?

Treatment begins with detox. A doctor may prescribe you medications based on your symptoms to help you detox safely and comfortably. If you proceed with MAT, you will continue taking medications during treatment and in recovery until you no longer need them.

Medications alone will not cure addiction, but they do help you prevent relapse by reducing cravings. The most important part of MAT is behavioral therapy and counseling. Throughout treatment, you will participate in numerous addiction and mental health therapies so you can heal from the root causes and adverse effects of your substance abuse.

People may continue taking medications for varying lengths of time-based on their needs. When you are ready to stop taking your medication, speak with your doctor to make sure doing so is a good idea. Most importantly, you should always take your medication exactly as prescribed.

Find Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) in Memphis, Tennessee

If you or a loved one suffer from alcohol or opioid addiction, help is available. While the thought of having to deal with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and cravings can be scary, attending a MAT program can make this process safer and more comfortable.

By using medications to soothe symptoms of withdrawal and prevent cravings for substances, your risk of relapse is reduced and your chances of long-term sobriety are increased substantially.

To learn more about medication-assisted treatment in Memphis, Tennessee, contact PAX Memphis today.



Medically Reviewed: September 25, 2019

Dr Ashley

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor


All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Dr Ashley Murray obtained her MBBCh Cum Laude in 2016. She currently practices in the public domain in South Africa. She has an interest in medical writing and has a keen interest in evidence-based medicine.

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.