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Medication-Assisted Treatment For Opioid Addiction

As the drug epidemic is under the spotlight, advocates and critics voice their concerns about the use of medication assisted treatment for opioid addiction.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is one way to help those with opioid addiction in their recovery. It can safely help with the withdrawal of opioids (detoxification). Although research shows that MAT can be effective in the treatment of opioid addiction, there are other successful means such as therapy, counseling, medical detox, inpatient drug rehab and outpatient drug rehab. When a person is suffering from opioid addiction, medication allows him or her with the withdrawal symptoms, cravings, highs and lows of drug addiction and regain a normal state of mind. Some believe taking medication for opioid addiction is merely replacing one drug with another. Others believe that when used properly, especially in a clinical setting, can help patients manage their addiction and maintain their recovery. The most common medications that are used for opioid addiction are Suboxone (buprenorphine) and Methadone. Before beginning a medication-assisted treatment program, a detailed assessment of the individual should be conducted.

Considerations before beginning a medication-assisted treatment plan:

  • Length of opioid use
  • Other medications being taken
  • Alcohol use
  • Health condition and history
  • Pregnancy


Suboxone is used to treat opiate addiction and contains a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Buprenorphine is an opioid medication and naloxone blocks the effects of opioid medication. Suboxone can slow or stop breathing and should not be taken if you are pregnant or use alcohol. Benefits of Suboxone include:
  • Pain relieving effect that is between 20 and 30 times more powerful than morphine
  • Mild euphoria that can lasts for around 8 hours with general effects of the substance lasting for 24 – 72 hours
  • Sense of calm and inflated well-being
  • Perception of fewer worries and lower stress
  • Increased relaxation
Common side effects include:
  • Dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision, feeling drunk
  • Tongue pain, redness or numbness inside your mouth
  • Constipation, mild nausea, vomiting
  • Headache, back pain
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Increased sweating
  • Fast or pounding heartbeats


Methadone is an opioid medication that reduces withdrawal symptoms in people addicted to heroin or other narcotic drugs without causing the high associated with the drug addiction. Methadone is used as a pain reliever and as part of drug addiction detoxification and maintenance programs and is only available from certified pharmacies. You should not use methadone if you have severe asthma or breathing problems, or a bowel obstruction. Common methadone side effects may include:
  • Dizziness, drowsiness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Increased sweating
To learn more about medication-assisted treatment, medical detox and addiction treatment, please contact Valley Detox Center 24/7 at (888) 544-6049.

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