Scientific studies overwhelmingly support the use of medications to treat opioid use disorder (OUD). While you may have heard of this referred to as medication-assisted treatment (MAT), we avoid using this term. We prefer the term MOUD - medication for opioid use disorder. For opioid use disorder, medication is this treatment. However, treatment also often involves behavioral therapy and social supports. There are three medications approved by the FDA for the treatment of OUD. These medications are: buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone. Many people receive benefits from treatment with these medications for varying lengths of time, including lifelong treatment. It’s important to note that you may be familiar with other names for these medications because they are available as generics or under different brand names.
Each of the medications for OUD work in slightly different ways and are available in different medical settings. All three medications have been found to be more effective in reducing illicit opioid use than no medication in randomized control trials. Medications also reduce overdose and overdose death, decrease all cause mortality, and decrease criminal justice involvement. They are a first line defense in reversing the opioid epidemic. Like with most medical treatments, some medications may work better for some people based on their needs. That’s why we’ve included an overview of all three medications.