Treating Opioid Addiction
Many people who suffer from addictive disorders go to hospital emergency rooms because they’re in crisis. Most hospitals provide an evaluation and assess the patient’s primary needs and then connect them to treatment that best addresses their unique needs. Many general hospitals don’t admit patients solely for withdrawal or substance abuse treatment unless other significant medical problems present. Treatment for substance use disorders can be best treated through outpatient or inpatient programs. Many of these programs use medications to help patients transition from physical dependence on opioids, also known as Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). Three common medications used are:
Methadone: Methadone can only be given in a certified opioid treatment setting and is commonly administered in addition to counseling. The medication helps to relieve withdrawal symptoms and address cravings.
Buprenorphine: Similar to Methadone, Buprenorphine relieves opioid cravings without giving the same high as other opioid drugs. A physician can prescribe buprenorphine from an office setting. It can be administered by a daily tablet that dissolves when placed under the tongue, a once-a-month injection, or through thin tubes inserted under the skin and last six months.
These medicines suppress cravings and are practical and similar in safety and side effects, and are typically used for maintenance treatment (treatment for people who are in recovery but want to prevent a relapse. They also can be used to support gradually coming off using opioids. However, it is common for patients to relapse using these prescriptions, and physicians must try something different for patients who relapse several times. Patients who are highly motivated and have good social support tend to do better with these therapies.
Source: Johns Hopkins Medicine