Medication-Assisted Treatment

Treating Opioid Addiction

Opioid use disorders can be treated on an outpatient therapy basis, or in an inpatient program dedicated to the treatment of people with addiction. Many of these programs use medications to help patients transition from physical dependence on opioids. 

Research shows that a combination of medication and therapy can successfully treat substance use disorders. Medication-assisted-treatment (MAT) is the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a "whole-patient" approach to substance use disorders. Medications used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and MAT programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each patient's needs. 

MAT is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers that contain opiates. 

Medicines Used to Treat Opioid Addiction

BuprenorphineNaltrexoneExtended-Release Naltrexone
How it's takenTablet or liquidTablet, film, or extended-release injectionTabletInjection
What it doesRelieves withdrawal symptoms and cravings by stimulating opioid receptors in the brain.  Like Methadone, it also relieves opioid cravings by stimulating opioid receptors, and may diminish the effects of illicit opioids. Naltrexone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids. Binds preferentially to opioid receptors in the brain but does not stimulate the receptors. The effects last for approximately 28 days.

MAT Effectiveness

The ultimate goal of MAT is full recovery, including the ability to live a healthy and positive life. This treatment approach has been shown to:

  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Increase patients' ability to gain and maintain employment
  • Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders 

For MAT providers, visit Treatment Services and Resources.