What is Medication-Assisted Treatment?
Types of Medications Used for Treatment
There are three medications most commonly prescribed as part of an opioid medication-assisted treatment program: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. Each type serves an important purpose and doctors determine the type of medication needed on an individual basis.
- Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist used to diminish the effects of physical dependency, including cravings and withdrawal symptoms; decrease the likelihood of overdose; and lower the potential for opioid misuse. It is available in sublingual tablet or film form, as well as an implant or extended-release injection.
- Methadone is a long-acting opioid agonist that reduces opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms and also reduces or blocks the effects of opioids. It is taken in liquid, powder, or diskette form.
- Naltrexone is a non-opioid medication that blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids, as well as reduces and suppresses cravings, by binding to and blocking opioid receptors. Naltrexone is available as an intramuscular injection.
Advantages of Medication-Assisted Treatment in Addressing Opioid Use Disorder
There are many benefits of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Some of these benefits include:
- Improved likelihood of patient survival
- Increased treatment retention rates
- Reduced opiate use
- Increased psychological resilience
- Improved birth outcomes among pregnant women with opioid use disorder
The benefits of a medication-assisted treatment program rely on the patient’s willingness to adhere to the treatment protocol, though. When medications for opioid use disorder are used outside of their prescribed doses, effects can be similar to traditional opioids. Medication-assisted treatment should be used by those ready to quit using substances and begin walking the path to recovery.
Looking For a Medication-Assisted Treatment Program?
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration. (2022). Information about Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT).
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2023). Buprenorphine.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2023). Methadone.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2023). Naltrexone.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2023). Medicated-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Can Improve Health Outcomes.