December 28, 2020 Network in the Know

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers that contain opiates. MAT medications are evidence-based treatment options that relieve the withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings that cause chemical imbalances in the body. They do not just substitute one drug for another.

Opioid Dependency Medications 

Buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone are used to treat those with opioid use disorders involving short-acting opioids, such as heroin, morphine, and codeine, as well as semi-synthetic opioids like oxycodone and hydrocodone. These MAT medications are safe to use for months, years, or even a lifetime. As with any medication, consult your doctor before discontinuing use.

  • Buprenorphine – suppresses and reduces cravings for opioids.
  • Methadone – reduces opioid cravings and withdrawal and blunts or blocks the effects of opioids.
  • Naltrexone – blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids and prevents feelings of euphoria.

MAT has proven to be clinically effective and to significantly reduce the need for inpatient detoxification services for these individuals. MAT provides a comprehensive, individually tailored program of medication and behavioral therapy that addresses the needs of most patients.

The ultimate goal of MAT is full recovery, including the ability to live a self-directed life. This treatment approach has been shown to:

  • Improve patient survival.
  • Increase retention in treatment.
  • Decrease illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders.
  • Increase patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment.
  • Improve birth outcomes among pregnant women who have substance use disorders.

Research also shows that these medications and therapies can lower a person’s risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C by reducing the potential for relapse.

Opioid Overdose Prevention Medication

Naloxone (Narcan) is used to prevent opioid overdose by reversing the toxic effects of the overdose.  If you or someone you know is using opioids, including prescription opioids, please talk to your pharmacist, or physician about accessing Naloxone; it could save a life.[i]

Addiction Treatment for Seniors 

The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to an increase in substance abuse and mental health issues as the necessary isolation increases feelings of depression and can exacerbate alcohol and substance abuse. This is especially true for seniors who were dealing with issues of loneliness prior to the onset of the global pandemic.

Seeking treatment for increased alcohol and substance abuse is a seamless process. CDPHP has a robust network of treatment providers utilizing telemedicine. Your older patients can also seek help from Senior Hope, which provides treatment for seniors who have substance abuse issues. For additional information, call (518) 489-7777 or visit their website

[1] Information provided by the SAMHA website: https://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment and the CDPHP medical director.


Adele O'Connell
About Author

Adele joined CDPHP in 2004 as an internal communications and event specialist. She then spent eight years coordinating the company’s community relations and corporate events program, in which capacity she worked with a host of non-profit organizations and co-chaired the CDPHP annual Charity of Choice campaign. Currently, she is a communications specialist and coordinator of corporate member engagement and serves on the boards of two local charities. Prior to CDPHP, Adele served as a legislative assistant for a trade association and as an acquisitions and developmental editor, specializing in educational and medical publishing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Rosemont College.

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