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Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD) is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, which is effective in the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD) and can help some people to sustain recovery.   There are three drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid dependence: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. All three of these treatments have been demonstrated to be safe and effective in combination with counseling and psychosocial support. Everyone who seeks treatment for an OUD should be offered access to all three options as this allows providers to work with patients to select the treatment best suited to an individual’s needs. Due to the chronic nature of OUD, the need for continuing MOUD should be re‐evaluated periodically. There is no maximum recommended duration of maintenance treatment, and for some patients, treatment may continue indefinitely.

Each of these medications comes with risks and benefits, as well as stipulation or restrictions on how they can be prescribed and dispensed.  Methadone can only be administered in a federally approved opioid treatment program (OTP).  You’ll have to come to the clinical daily to receive medication from a nurse and take-home medications are restricted to the amount of continuous time in treatment.  OTP’s use a phase system to determine how many days of take homes a patient can receive.  Buprenorphine can be administered in the OTP clinic or called into a pharmacy for pick up.  The doctor has discretion to determine how much medication a patient can “take-home” or pick up from the pharmacy.  If you have limitations that would prevent you from coming to the clinic everyday for medication, one these medications might be more appropriate.  Naltrexone is generally prescribed for patient who have had a period of sobriety and are struggling with cravings and are concerned about relapse, it is not used to manage withdrawal symptoms.

If you have been on MOUD previously and has success with a certain medication, you may consider using that medication again.  If the medication was not effective, there may be many reasons for this, talking with the doctor about the circumstance of past treatment effectiveness will be important.

If you are unsure about what medication might be best for you and your needs, we recommend talking with the doctor and doing research using the two links below.  Your counseling staff are not qualified to make recommendation about what medication might best for you.

Common Questions

What is methadone? | SAMHSA

What is buprenorphine? | SAMHSA

What is Naltrexone? | SAMHSA
For more information about the medications approved by the FDA to manage withdrawal related to opioid use disorder, visit:
Information about Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) | FDA

Substance Abuse and mental Health Administration: Medication for Substance Use Disorder.  
Medications for Substance Use Disorders | SAMHSA

How to find treatment.
How to Find Opioid Treatment Programs? |

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