Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) FAQ
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Methadone is a long-acting drug, meaning that it metabolizes differently in the body than heroin or morphine. When a person takes methadone regularly, it builds up and stores in the body, so it lasts longer for maintenance. Once a person is stabilized on a dose that is right for them, a single dose will ‘hold’ them for at least a full day. For some, the effects last longer; for others, it lasts a shorter time.
Methadone is a long-acting, synthetic drug used in the maintenance treatment for opioid addiction. It is called an opioid agonist, meaning that it acts in a way similar to morphine and other narcotics.
When used in proper doses, methadone does not create euphoria, sedation, or analgesic effects, but reduces cravings.
Methadone maintenance is intended to do three things for patients who participate:
- Keeps the patient from going into withdrawal. The standard initial dose is 30-40 milligrams a day, and is adjusted as needed.
- Keeps the patient comfortable and free from craving street opioids. Having a craving means more than having a desire to get high. It means feeling such a strong need, that a person may dream about using drugs, think of using drugs to the exclusion of anything else, and do things that they wouldn’t normally do to get drugs. Methadone won’t control a person’s desire to get high, but may prevent the overwhelming physical need to use street opioids.
- Blocks” the effects of street opioids. If the dose is sufficiently high, methadone will keep the patient from getting much, if any, effect from the usual doses of street opioids.
Cardiac Risks with Methadone Use
Naltrexone is a medication used to treat opioid and alcohol use disorders. It comes as a pill form (ReVia,Depade) or an injectable, extended-release form (Vivitrol). Naltrexone works differently in the body than methadone or buprenorphine, which activate opioid receptors in the body to suppress cravings. Naltrexone blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids by binding and blocking opioid receptors to reduce cravings. If a person relapses and uses the problem drug, naltrexone prevents the feeling of getting high. People using Naltrexone should not use opioids or illicit drugs, drink alcohol, or take sedatives, tranquilizers, or other drugs.