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Medications Used in Opiate Addiction Treatment

Research shows medication-assisted treatment of opioid addiction increases patient retention and decreases drug use.

Medications Used in Opiate Addiction Treatment

Opiate addiction treatment centers will often provide medication to patients who are working on their recoveries. Initially, medication may be used in detox treatment, but certain patients may need long-term medication treatment along with behavioral therapy. In opiate addiction treatment centers, there are several different kinds of medications used.

Why Receive Medication-Assisted Treatment?

Some people believe that receiving medication-assisted treatment just moves a person's addiction from one substance to another. But the truth is that recovery takes steps and it is often necessary for a patient to be weaned off of a drug through medication, especially opiates which can be very addictive.

The NIDA states that "scientific research has established that medication-assisted treatment of opioid addiction increases patient retention and decreases drug use, infectious disease transmission, and criminal activity." These are all incredible benefits to the patient and his or her quality of life and recovery. Medication-assisted treatment can even save money as, in the case of methadone, "every dollar invested in treatment generates an estimated $4-5 return."

Using Methadone for Opiate Addiction Treatment

Methadone is a opioid agonist. The use of methadone in opiate addiction treatment centers sometimes has a stigma. Its critics say that the only true path to recovery is sobriety and the total cessation of the intake of drugs. For many individuals, this is not a reasonable or possible treatment plan. The NIDA states that "methadone has been in use since the 1960s to treat heroin addiction and is still an excellent treatment option." Important facts to know about methadone treatment are:

Using Naltrexone for Opiate Addiction Treatment

Naltrexone is an opioid agonist as well. It is a medication that is "not addictive or sedating," and there is no physical dependence created by the drug. It isn't the most popular choice for medication-assisted treatment though due to "poor patient compliance." There is a monthly injection version that is also available called Vivitrol, but patients might encounter Depade or Revia when in opiate addiction treatment.

Using Buprenorphine for Opiate Addiction Treatment

Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. It helps to relieve the cravings that the patient will be feeling for opiates "without producing the 'high' or dangerous side effects of other opioids." Its brand names are Subutex and Suboxone. Suboxone is an oral medication that also contains naloxone to "ward off attempts to get high by injecting medication." Someone who injects Suboxone would experience withdrawal symptoms as the naloxone in the medication would induce them. Buprenorphine can be used in outpatient centers but is sometimes used by inpatient facilities (and even by certified physicians who are not a part of treatment centers as well).

The NIDA states that "medications are an important element of treatment for many patients." They help cut down withdrawal symptoms, make it easier for patients to focus on therapy and their daily lives, and reduce cravings for opiates. For many, these medications are a large part of their treatment process.

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