Medication-assisted treatment has helped many on the path to recovery

There are three medications approved by the Food & Drug Administration for the treatment of opioid use disorder: methadone, buprenorphine, and injectable naltrexone.

Methadone and buprenorphine are opioid-based medications that can stop withdrawal symptoms and reduce the cravings that come with opioid addiction.

Methadone is offered through licensed treatment programs and is regulated by state and federal authorities. Methadone treatment provides the structure of going to a clinic daily for medication and requires that clients participate in counseling and rehabilitative services, and have regular drug testing.  Over time, clients may be able to take this medication away from the clinic. It can be taken short or longer-term. Click here to find methadone treatment providers near you.

Buprenorphine may be provided by some doctors in their offices, and there are state-funded Buprenorphine programs throughout Massachusetts. Clients may be given a prescription for this medication and counseling and drug testing are often part of treatment. Some of the brand names for buprenorphine are Suboxone, Subutex, Bunavail, and Zubsolv.

Vivitrol, which is injectable naltrexone (generic version), is the newest of the three medications. You may have heard that Vivitrol has been given to inmates prior to release from prison to keep them from returning to opioid use. This medication blocks the receptors in the brain, which keeps the client from feeling the effects of opioids or “getting high.”  It’s taken once a month by injection, which many people find appealing.

The Helpline can provide referrals for any of the three medication assisted treatments (MAT). Medication assisted treatment can reduce cravings and help people manage withdrawal – especially when it is used along with counseling and other recovery supports. MAT is an outpatient option that lets people live at home and stay in their communities during treatment. Such treatment helps many people in recovery maintain stability (hold jobs, avoid crime and violence), and reduce the risk of getting sick from infections such as Hepatitis C and HIV.

To learn more about MAT or to get a referral, call the Helpline at 800.327.5050 or search for medication-assisted treatments on the Helpline website. For more background on MAT, visit the SAMHSA website.

Image courtesy of SAMHSA