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Medical Detox vs. MAT Treatment

by Will Long

July 21, 2023
doctor helping someone go through medical detox and MAT

When it comes to addiction treatment and recovery, multiple treatment options exist. Each has its distinct approach and specific advantages. Two such methods include Medical Detoxification (Medical Detox) and Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). Understanding the differences between these two is crucial as they often play complementary roles in the recovery process.

Understanding Medical Detox

Medical Detox is a crucial initial step in many addiction recovery processes. It involves supervising healthcare professionals who safely remove harmful substances from the body and manage withdrawal symptoms. This medically guided detoxification occurs in a specialized facility and is generally suggested for individuals with severe substance addiction.

The main purpose of medical detox is to manage physical withdrawal symptoms, which can range from mildly uncomfortable to life-threatening, depending on the substance and the severity of the addiction. This process provides a safer alternative to trying a detox alone and paves the way for further therapeutic interventions and recovery work.

Introduction to Medication-Assisted Treatment

On the other hand, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is a long-term treatment approach that blends FDA-approved medications with behavioral therapies to treat substance use disorders. While MAT can be used as part of medical detox, there are key points that set them apart. MAT aims to provide a ‘whole patient’ approach to treatment, which often results in a successful recovery, according to the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW).

MAT is mainly used for opioid, alcohol, and tobacco use disorders. These medications work by blocking the euphoric effects of the substance, easing cravings, and normalizing body functions without the negative effects of the abused drug.

Now, let’s look at a side-by-side comparison of Medical Detox and MAT:

Medical Detox
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Physically cleanse the body of addictive substances and manage withdrawal symptoms
Use of medications and therapy to support recovery and prevent relapse
Short-term (days to weeks)
Long-term (months to years or lifelong)
Treatment for
All substances
Opioids, alcohol, and tobacco
Therapy Involved
Typically not included
Integral part of treatment


This example makes it clear that Medical Detox and MAT play important roles in the recovery journey. Medical Detox often serves as the first step in treatment, helping individuals to overcome addiction. In contrast, MAT is a comprehensive, long-term treatment approach that pairs medications with therapy to sustain recovery and prevent relapse.

It is important to remember that individual recovery journeys are unique. Some individuals may require only medical detox, some may benefit more from MAT, while others may require a combination. To determine the best course of action, it’s necessary to consider various factors like the drug type, how serious the addiction is, mental health conditions, and personal circumstances.

Learn More

When it comes to recovery, getting the best help possible is crucial. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use disorder, contact Landmark Recovery at 888-448-0302. At the discretion of our qualified medical professionals, we offer both Medical Detox and MAT as part of our complete recovery programs. At Landmark Recovery, we’re committed to guiding you through your recovery journey and building a life free from addiction.

Don’t let addiction control your life any longer. Reach out today, and take the first step toward recovery.

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About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Long has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. He specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective. Unearthing information from underexplored, far-flung corners of the Internet, Long’s passion is finding emerging trends in substance use and treatment that the public should know about.