Using Medication to Treat Opioid Addiction

Using Medication to Treat Opioid Addiction

Medication Assisted Treatment is an effective method for achieving recovery.

Medications are already used to assist with opioid withdrawal (detoxification), however, opioid withdrawal by itself is NOT treatment—it is merely the first step within the treatment process.

Opioid addiction is associated with a high rate of relapse. Medication can effectively manage cravings, decreasing potential for relapse.


Prescribing medication for addiction is substituting one addiction for another.


When used properly, taking medication to manage the symptoms of addiction is like taking insulin to regulate diabetes.

Medications Used to Treat Opioid Addiction

Buprenorphine (Subutex, Suboxone)

  • Decreases withdrawal symptoms for a longer period of time compared to methadone
  • Prescribed by specialized physicians

Methadone (Methadose, Dolophine)

  • Reduces cravings and prevents withdrawal symptoms
  • Monitored in specialized opioid treatment programs

Naltrexone (Depade, ReVia, Vivitrol)

  • Prevents feeling the effects of a drug
  • Prescribed as an oral medication or by monthly injections

6.4% in 2007 to 14% in 2014

Increase in the number of people (18 years or older) receiving treatment at ND Human Service Centers reporting prescription drug abuse (TEDS).

When not treated effectively, opioid abuse can lead to these potential consequences:

  • Increase in heroin use
  • Increased needle use
  • Increased rates of HIV/AIDS
  • Increase in crime
  • Increased risk of overdose