Addiction is complex, but it is treatable. No single treatment is right for all people. Currently, for opioid addictions, medication-assisted treament, or MAT, is considered the best approach. Because addiction often coincides with other mental health issues, MAT combines drugs that reduce a person's craving for opioids with therapies that address their social and emotional environments.
MAT involves medications such as methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, and naloxone:
- Methadone is available through clinics. It prevents withdrawal. Methadone is regulated and dispensed as part of an opioid treatment program.
- Buprenorphine can be administered by qualified physicians in office settings. It also reduces withdrawal symptoms.
- Naltrexone can also be administered in physician office settings. Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioid drugs.
- Naloxone also reverses or blocks the effects of opioids. It must be administered shortly after an overdose occurs and is widely used by first responders to prevent opioid overdose deaths. This drug is not used to treat addiction, only to reverse overdoses. Naloxone distribution is a safe and effective strategy for preventing opioid-related overdose. Increasingly, naloxone distribution programs are providing naloxone kits to friends, family, and others who may find themselves needing to respond to someone experiencing an opioid overdose.