Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) combines counseling and other recovery supports with prescribed medicine. These medicines help to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms that you might have when you stop using opioids. Medicine and counseling are more helpful together than either type of treatment on its own.
Medicines Used in MAT
Methadone reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms, helping you to do daily activities. It comes in various forms and is taken once a day. You can get methadone only at an opioid treatment program, while under doctor supervision. Methadone treatment is based on your individual needs. You can start taking methadone at any time.
Buprenorphine is similar to methadone but has fewer side effects and is not as strong. It may not stop all cravings for some people. You can get buprenorphine in a primary care office, behavioral health agency, or hospital. You can start taking buprenorphine soon after your last substance use, and while having withdrawal symptoms.
Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids and helps to reduce cravings, but it does not help with withdrawal. It comes in a pill form or as an injectable. You cannot start naltrexone until 7 to 10 days after your last opioid use. Because there is a high risk of overdose if you stop naltrexone and continue using opioids, it is not the best option for everyone.
The Right Medicine for You
The right medicine for you depends on the intensity of your substance use and how long you have been using opioids. A medical professional can help decide which medicine is right for you. When used properly, medicine is safe to take and will not lead to a new substance use disorder.