Medication Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Learn how medication assisted treatment for opioid addiction and rehab can help you beat addiction at White Sands Treatment Center

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the two most effective treatment options for opioid addiction are medications and psychological therapies. Opioid addiction is difficult to treat without these two options and medications have been an evidence-based proven method to treat the problem. Opioid addicts are usually at their wits end by the time they enter rehab and the utilization of medications during the detox process and afterward have proven to take the edge off and allow the patient the time to heal. Medication assisted treatment for opioid addiction is well recognized as an effective way to manage withdrawal and long-term treatment.

What is medically assisted detox and how does it work? The detox process for opioid addiction is a gradual process of removing opioid drugs from the patient’s body. During the process, opioid withdrawal medication can be given to the patient that is similar to the opioid drug. This helps to alleviate some of the undesirable withdrawal symptoms of opioid withdrawal because the medication mimics the opioid. Opioid withdrawal medication is used as a substitute for the drug during the detox process, and then the patient is slowly tapered off the medication. The use of a substitute medication helps ease the patient through the detox process.

Some of the opioid withdrawal symptoms are:

  • Muscle aches, uncontrolled leg kicks (kicking the habit)
  • Sleep problems
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Hypertension
  • Drug cravings
  • Anxiety, agitation, depression
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps

Medications that are used to treat opioid addiction long-term are agonists, partial agonists and antagonists. These drugs mimic opioids but are safer to use and are not as addictive as opioids. Some of the medications used to treat opioid addiction are:

  • Methadone – an opioid agonist medication that is used to prevent drug cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Methadone can cause depressed breathing in large doses, so it is dispensed at methadone clinics in a daily dosage. Eventually the patient can be weaned off of the methadone too.
  • Buprenorphine – a partial opioid agonist medication that has less opioid effects than methadone, but the patient can still experience nausea and constipation while on the medication. This medication can be dispensed in pill form or as a monthly injection. A long-acting version of the drug is being tested that is an implant placed under the skin.
  • Naltrexone – an opioid agonist that is used for recovery, and will block the high of opioids.
  • Naloxone – an anti-overdose medication that will stop overdose activity when given quickly to the addict. It is available as an injectable solution and also as a nasal spray, and can save the life of someone overdosing on opioid drugs.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports these medications are safe and effective treatments for opioid addiction and have shown a reduction in opioid use. This is good news for any addict who has suffered with intense drug cravings because they will not have that urge to contend with. Opioid addiction medications free the patient to begin long-term psychological counseling and therapy, which will address the factors that may have led him to use opioids in the first place. By understanding the psychological and social factors that promoted drug use, the addict can begin to identify and change his dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns and replace them with healthy alternatives.

Some of the necessary treatment options for opioid addiction include contingency management therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy along with medication, or, medication assisted treatment for opioid addiction The recovering addict should attend support group meetings and visits with his counselor. With the continued support of his family and friends, the recovering addict can begin to put his life back in order and live drug-free.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.