Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction has become a pressing concern in the United States, affecting individuals from all walks of life. Fortunately, people can find hope through medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

The three primary medications used in MAT for recovery are buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. These medications are crucial in supporting individuals on their path to recovery from opioid addiction.

We can better understand the MAT options to provide practical insights into the effectiveness of these medications, helping patients make informed decisions on their journey to overcoming opioid addiction. In this article, let’s delve into the world of MAT and explore its potential for transformative change.

Key Takeaways

Opioid addiction has become a pressing concern in the United States, affecting individuals from all walks of life. Fortunately, people can find hope through medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) combines medication, counseling, and behavioral therapies to support recovery from opioid addiction.
  • Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naltrexone are commonly used MAT medications for opioid addiction.
  • MAT helps suppress cravings, ease withdrawal symptoms, and reduce the risk of relapse.
  • Behavioral therapy, such as counseling and group therapy, compliments medication to address underlying issues and improve overall well-being.

The Recovery Team is enhancing the overall quality of life for people. Contact us at (800) 817-1247 and seek recovery.

What Is Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a method to help individuals struggling with opioid addiction find their path to recovery. It combines medicine with counseling and behavioral therapies to address addiction effectively. MAT has gained recognition in the United States as a proven method to support individuals in overcoming opioid dependency.

The medications used in MAT, such as Buprenorphine, Methadone, and Naltrexone, work in different ways to ease withdrawal symptoms, lessen cravings, and block the effects of opioids. Buprenorphine and methadone are opioid agonists, which means they wrap to the same receptors in the brain as opioids but with milder effects. Naltrexone, on the other side, is an opioid antagonist that blocks the receptors, preventing the euphoric effects of opioids.

MAT aims to stabilize individuals, minimize withdrawal symptoms, and allow them to stick on their recovery journey. It is crucial to understand that MAT does not substitute one addiction for another but provides a controlled and supervised medication regimen supporting recovery.

Types of Medications for Opioid Addiction Treatment

The treatment remedy of substance use disorders, including opioid addiction, often involves using medications as part of a comprehensive treatment program. The National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Food and Drug Administration confirms the approval of opioid treatment programs that offer evidence-based approaches such as methadone to address opioid use disorder.

These programs recognize addiction as a chronic disease requiring a holistic approach, considering the patient’s needs. They also aim to effectively manage substance use disorders, including alcohol use disorder, and improve patients’ overall well-being. The utilization of medications plays a crucial role in the comprehensive treatment of substance use disorders, helping individuals on their journey to recovery.


Methadone is an opioid agonist that affixes to the identical receptors in the brain as opioids, alleviating withdrawal symptoms and reducing cravings.

Pros include effectiveness. Methadone has a long track record of effectively reducing opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms, allowing individuals to stabilize and focus on recovery.

Cons include dependency. Methadone itself is an opioid, so there is a potential for dependence. However, when used as prescribed, it helps individuals regain control over their lives without experiencing euphoric effects.

Common side effects of methadone include constipation, drowsiness, dry mouth, and nausea. However, these side effects typically diminish over time. SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) claims that in 2019, over 351,000 individuals received methadone as part of their MAT program in the United States.


Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist, which, compared to complete agonists like heroin, mildly activates the opioid receptors in the brain.

Pros include safety in which buprenorphine has a lower overdose risk than full opioid agonists. Cons reveal the dependency. Like other opioids, buprenorphine has the potential for dependence. However, it helps individuals manage their addiction without experiencing intense euphoria when used as prescribed.

Regular and consistent adherence to Buprenorphine treatment is crucial for its effectiveness, which can be challenging for some individuals. Common side effects of buprenorphine include headache, constipation, sweating, and insomnia.

These side effects are generally temporary and diminish over time. According to SAMHSA, in 2019, more than 1.3 million individuals received buprenorphine as part of their MAT program in the United States.


Naltrexone is a medication used in MAT for opioid addiction. Due to its status as an opioid antagonist, it prevents the effects of opioids by attaching to their receptors in the brain.

Pros include non-addictive. Naltrexone is non-addictive and does not produce any opioid-like effects.

Cons include compliance. Naltrexone requires individuals to be committed to treatment as it is typically administered as a monthly injection or daily oral tablets. Individuals must be utterly free from opioids for some time to avoid sudden withdrawal symptoms to start naltrexone treatment.

The side effects of naltrexone include nausea, headache, dizziness, and fatigue. These side effects are commonly mild and temporary. SAMHSA reported that in 2019, over 89,000 individuals received naltrexone as part of their MAT program in the United States.


Naloxone is an opioid antagonist utilized to reverse opioid overdoses. It quickly binds to the opioid receptors, displacing opioids and restoring normal breathing. While not a standalone MAT medication, preventing fatal overdoses is critical in emergencies.

Pros possess life-saving. Naloxone rapidly switches the effects of opioid overdose, saving lives in crises. Naloxone is available in various forms, including nasal sprays and auto-injectors, and can be easily administered by bystanders or first responders.

It also has the cons factor, which is a temporary impact. Naloxone’s effects are short-lived, typically lasting 30-90 minutes, which may require additional medical attention.

Naloxone is generally safe and has minimal side effects. However, it can induce withdrawal symptoms in opioid-dependent individuals. SAMHSA reported that in 2019, over 325,000 individuals received naloxone kits or prescriptions as part of overdose prevention efforts in the United States.

How Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) Works

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction combines medicines with behavioral therapy to provide comprehensive support for individuals seeking recovery. Here are some aspects of how MAT works:

Combining Medications and Behavioral Therapy

MAT integrates the benefits of medications, such as Methadone, Buprenorphine, Naltrexone, and Naloxone, with behavioral therapy. This combination addresses the complex nature of addiction and provides a holistic approach to recovery.

Suppressing Opioid Cravings and Withdrawal Symptoms

The medications used in MAT help suppress cravings and alleviate withdrawal symptoms. By reducing the physical discomfort associated with opioid withdrawal, individuals can better focus on their recovery journey.

Blocking the Effects of Opioids

Certain medications, like naltrexone, block the effects of opioids on the brain. By binding to opioid receptors, these medications prevent the euphoric effects of opioids, reducing the desire to use and minimizing the risk of relapse.

Managing Co-Occurring Disorders

MAT also addresses co-occurring disorders, such as mental health conditions often accompanying opioid addiction. By incorporating behavioral therapy, MAT helps individuals develop coping skills, address underlying issues, and improve overall well-being.

What medications are used in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder?

The three primary medications used in MAT for opioid use disorder are Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Naltrexone. Methadone and buprenorphine are opioid agonists that reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, while naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that chokes the effects of opioids.

What is medication-assisted treatment for addiction?

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for addiction combines medications, such as Methadone, Buprenorphine, or Naltrexone, with counseling and behavioral therapies. This comprehensive approach helps individuals overcome addiction by managing cravings, reducing withdrawal symptoms, and addressing underlying psychological factors.

What is the most common form of medical treatment for opioid addiction?

Buprenorphine, a medication used in medication-assisted treatment (MAT), is one of the most familiar formats of medical treatment for opioid addiction.

It is favored for its effectiveness in reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms, the convenience of office-based treatment, and the lower risk of overdose than other opioids.

Join The Recovery Team for Effective Treatment

Recover from opioid abuse or drug addiction through our residential, outpatient, and transitional living programs.

Our dual diagnosis program addresses co-occurring mental health conditions. Join our professional program for specialized care. Engage in our family program for support and healing.

Benefit from evidence-based therapies like CBT and group therapy. Our dedicated team provides comprehensive and compassionate treatment to help you achieve lasting recovery from opioid addiction through medication-assisted programs.

Contact us today at (800) 817-1247 to start your journey to wellness and a healthier future.