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Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

During opioid detox and treatment, there are many approaches that can be followed. You might opt to go “cold turkey,” which is generally not recommended. You might pursue a holistic approach that focuses on mind, body, and spirit.

Alternatively, you could opt for medication assisted treatment, or MAT. MAT is one part of a larger system that involves the medication itself, therapy, and support. The support will likely come from loved ones, family, group therapy, and medical staff.

A lot of people think that MAT is questionable because they feel addicts are replacing one drug with another. That isn’t the case. Addiction is a chronic disease and chronic diseases often require medication management. There is a big difference between recreational use of pain killers or heroin use and prescription medication administered and monitored by a physician; MAT is highly monitored.

There is more than one medication on the market for treatment of opioid dependence. The medications that are most often used are buprenorphine, methadone, naloxone, and naltrexone. They all operate in a slightly different way, which is why each will be covered individually here.

Finding the right drug for you is something that you should discuss with a physician, but learning about the meds independently will help you with that conversation.

Part of learning is reaching out to experts and is the resources you need. Call 800-256-3490 and speak to an expert who can answer questions and direct you to a treatment program that meets your needs.

MAT: The Basics

It is generally agreed upon that MAT is the best option for people fighting an opioid addiction, especially people who have a serious problem. In extreme instances, the withdrawal can be crippling and may even prove deadly. Mediating that with medication and medical care is important.

Medication doesn’t just help with withdrawal symptoms. It will help you escape from the cycle of highs and lows caused by drug use and help you to maintain a balanced state of mind. This balance will allow you to focus on the other components of your drug treatment, which, in turn, strengthens your resolve and makes your chances of success higher. In addition, cravings are minimized or eliminated; that helps you to focus on treatment as well.

When used as prescribed, the drugs used for MAT should not cause addiction, so be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.


Medication Assisted Treatment

During MAT you’ll receive support from medical staff.

Methadone will be the most familiar medication because it has been used for decades in treatment of opioid dependence and addiction.

Unlike some of the other drugs covered her, methadone is accessed in a structured, medical setting. You have probably heard about these methadone clinics. However, with a history of responsible use, you may be able to transition to receiving your methadone at your doctor’s office.


  • Shifts the way your nervous system and brain respond to pain
  • Lessens symptoms of withdrawal
  • Stops the “high”

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), reports methadone is available in:

  • Liquid form
  • Wafer form
  • Pill form


Naltrexone is interesting because it is used on more than one disorder. Both alcoholics and opioid addicts can benefit from its use.


  • Connects opioid receptors and stops them from getting a signal from opioid use
  • Lessens cravings
  • Impedes the sleepy effects of opioids
  • Impedes the “high” effects of opioids and alcohol

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), reports naltrexone is available in:

  • Pill form
  • Injectable extended-release form


The most recent advance in MAT medications is buprenorphine, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved for clinical use in 2002.

Unlike some of the other meds, buprenorphine can actually be prescribed and dispensed by your doctor in his or her office.


  • Lessens the potential for misuse
  • Lessens withdrawal and cravings
  • Lessens risk in instances of overdose

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), reports methadone is available in:

  • Buccal film form
  • Film form
  • Sublingual tablet form
  • Transmucosal product form


Naloxone is most often paired with buprenorphine when prescribed. In conjunction, the pair forms a well-rounded medication.

Like buprenorphine, naloxone can be dispensed and prescribed in your doctor’s office. Prescriptions are often given to people who are already involved in MAT or who pose an overdose risk.


  • Stops overdose
  • Connects opioid receptors and stops them from getting a signal from opioid use

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), reports methadone is available in:

  • Intramuscular injection (into the muscle) form
  • Intravenous injection (into the vein) form
  • Subcutaneous injection (under the skin) form
  • Intranasal spray form

If you are interested in pursuing MAT, you should get help from the experts by calling 800-256-3490.

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