Get help today 888-319-2606 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

Using Medication for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Using Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Treatment

Medications used for treating opioid use disorder (OUD) can help manage withdrawal symptoms, reduce cravings, and block the effects of opioids in people who have struggled with opioid misuse.1 When treatment medications are combined with behavioral therapy, it is sometimes referred to as medication-assisted treatment, or MAT.2

The use of opioid addiction medications has been found to be quite effective at preventing illicit opioid use and reducing the risk of overdose-related deaths.1

Administration of medications for opioid use disorder will be done to suit a person’s individual needs and with the support and guidance of a medical professional.1

This article will discuss the use of medications for opioid addiction and the important role they play in helping people to stop misusing opioids and recover from opioid addiction, and the specific types of medications offered.

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder?

The term medication-assisted treatment refers to the combined use of medications and behavioral therapy to treat people who struggle with misusing certain substances like opioids and alcohol.2 While MAT is a formal term that has been used in the past for this type of treatment approach, behavioral therapy and medication are often used to help treat OUD without falling under the term “MAT.”

The goal of using medication and therapy to treat OUD is to address the whole person, not just the physical aspects of addiction.2 Treatment medications used in MAT are FDA-approved and tailored to the person’s needs.2

Medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction will not “cure” a person’s addiction or ensure that relapse won’t happen; however, the use of behavioral therapy with medication may increase a person’s chances of staying in treatment, improve treatment outcomes, and decrease chances of a person misusing opioids again.2

How Do Medications for Opioid Addiction Help People?

Medications for OUD can help people in several ways depending on the person’s needs:1

  • They can reduce or eliminate withdrawal symptoms.
  • Blunt or block the effects of illicit opioids.
  • Reduce or eliminate cravings for opioids.

When people suddenly stop or reduce their dose of opioids, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal symptoms are so unpleasant that many people start taking the drugs again to avoid discomfort. People experiencing opioid withdrawal syndrome can also have extreme cravings for opioids.

The use of medications can last for varying amounts of time depending on the person’s needs and the severity of their addiction. Some people may remain on medication for opioid addiction for the rest of their lives, or as long as it proves beneficial.1 It’s suggested to not place time limits on the use of medications because many people who stop taking treatment medications for OUD return to illicit opioid use.1

The cost of medications for opioid addiction varies depending on the medication being used. A person’s treatment providers should help with finding treatment options available and/or checking insurance coverage for treatment medications.1

Common Medications for Opioid Use Disorder

Several treatment medications are used to treat opioid use disorders, including withdrawal from opioids.1 The most common medications are listed below:

Opioid Addiction Medication Procedures

If you are struggling with opioid misuse or addiction and want to quit, speak to your doctor or treatment professional about the next steps. Treatment medication for opioid addiction requires a prescription and must be given under the care of a doctor, whether that’s through inpatient or outpatient care, or your general practitioner.1

Before receiving treatment medication for OUD, you should receive a thorough assessment that:1

  • Establishes an OUD diagnosis.
  • Determines OUD severity.
  • Considers physical health.
  • Establishes or diagnoses co-occurring mental health disorders.
  • Assesses for other substance use disorders.
  • Considers contraindicated medications you are taking.

Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

Opioid treatment medications can be given in various settings from residential treatment facilities to primary care practices.1 However, if you or a loved one is struggling with a severe addiction and need withdrawal from opioids, it’s advisable to do so under medical supervision to ensure safety and comfort during the process.1

It’s encouraged that people continue with some form of treatment after detox and withdrawal to support more positive treatment outcomes. Ongoing treatment may include the use of certain opioid addiction medications, therapy, and/or other services.1

To learn more about treatment options for OUD, contact American Addiction Centers (AAC), which offers quality addiction treatment at their facilities across the country. Our compassionate team can help you find the right treatment and check your insurance at our facilities. You don’t have to recover alone; we’re here to help.

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.