Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD)
We are continuously trying to be mindful of changing terminology. Recently, SAMHSA recommends replacing the term “Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)” with “Medications for Opioid use Disorder (MOUD).” The term “MAT” implies that medication plays a secondary role to other approaches while the term “MOUD” reinforces the idea that medication is its own treatment form.
Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) includes the use of medication, often coupled with counseling and other supports. Treatment that includes medication is often the best choice for opiate addiction. Medication gives a person who is addicted to opiates an opportunity to regain a normal stat of mind without experiencing the drug induced highs and lows. Medication also can reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms. MOUD can give the person a chance to focus on the lifestyle changes that lead back to healthy living.
Taking medication for opiate addiction is like taking medication to control heart disease or diabetes. Some people may need it for a short period of time, and some, just as with other health conditions, may need it for longer periods of time, or even for the rest of their lives. It is not the same as substituting one addictive drug for another. Used properly, the medication does not create a new addiction. It helps people manage their addiction so that the benefits of recovery can be maintained. MOUD allows many to successfully work, maintain healthy relationships and participate in their families and communities.
The three most common medications used in the treatment of opiate addiction are Methadone, buprenorphine (suboxone) and naltrexone (vivitrol). Cost varies for the different medications. As with all medications, discussing the pros and cons of different treatment options with the trained professionals is the best way to determine which course of treatment might be best for a loved one.
Methadone or buprenorphine trick the brain into thinking it is still getting the drugs the person was previously using (heroin, oxycontin, etc). When properly dosed, the person feels normal and does not experience intense cravings. If someone does experience intense cravings, is nodding or appears to be high while using these medications, they may not be properly medicated. Their medical provider may need to adjust the dose or determine if there are interactions with other medications they may be taking.
Methadone comes as a pill or liquid form. Methadone is taken daily and is only dispensed at specially licensed treatment centers. Some people go to the treatment center or doctors office every time they need to take their medication. People who are stable in their recovery may be prescribed a supply of medication to take at home.
Buprenorphine (suboxone) is taken daily at first. After time, suboxone is taken daily or every other day. This medication is dispensed at treatment centers or prescribed by doctors with special approval to prescribe suboxone. Some people go to the treatment center or doctors office every time they need to take their medication. People who are stable in recovery may be prescribed a supply of medication to take at home.
Naltrexone (vivitrol) helps overcome addiction in a different way. It blocks the effect of opiate drugs and takes away the feeling of getting high if the problem drug is used again.
Vivitrol cannot be taken until the opioids are completely out of the body, usually 7 to 10 days after withdrawal