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Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction is a complex medical and psychological condition with potentially dangerous consequences. When someone is suffering from an addiction to opioids, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) could help the user achieve and maintain sobriety. MAT is a multi-faceted approach to treating addiction that incorporates both medication and therapeutic interventions. It can also accompany a drug crime plea deal.

MAT Programs for opioid addiction consist of multiple types of therapy and community supports. These may include:

  • Individual psychotherapy
  • 12 Step groups, like Narcotics Anonymous
  • Medical monitoring
  • Community Support

While the treatment plan differs on a case-by-case basis, MAT is most successful when the medications are paired with other kinds of therapy and community support. Additionally, MAT programs often require individuals to follow-up with medical professionals and counseling services as a condition of the program.

What Medications Can Treat Opioid Addiction?

There are multiple medications available to treat opioid dependency ranging from medications that are taken on a consistent basis, to medications that are used to treat overdoses in emergency situations. The main function of these medications is to curb cravings for opioids and control withdrawal symptoms.

The most commonly used medications for opioid addiction include:

  • Methadone: This medication minimizes cravings for opioids and reduces the sense of euphoria experienced by the user. It requires monitoring from an opioid treatment program. Some side effects of methadone include trouble breathing, rashes, chest pain, fast heartbeat, hallucinations, and confusion.
  • Buprenorphine: This medication also minimizes cravings for opioids and reduces their overall effect. It has less of a risk for overdose and abuse than methadone and does not require the individual to attend an opioid treatment clinic daily, as it can be prescribed and taken at home. Some side effects of buprenorphine include fever, inability to sleep, muscle aches and cramps, nausea and vomiting, irritability, and distress.
  • Naltrexone: This medication prevents the user from feeling the euphoria or sedating effects of opioid substances. Like the other medications, this must be prescribed by a doctor and is available as a pill or a monthly injection. The patient must abstain from substances for 7-10 days before starting the medication and must abstain from opioids, alcohol, and other substances while on the medication to avoid withdrawal and unpleasant physical effects. Some side effects include joint and muscle pain, nausea and vomiting, headaches, nervousness, and sleep problems.
  • Naloxone: This medication is different from the others as it is administered on an emergency basis when someone is showing signs of an opioid overdose. When administered, it quickly reverses the effects of the overdose. It can be administered through an injection or a nasal spray. This treatment is available from emergency medical services, but also from other emergency services and organizations that work closely with populations at risk of opioid abuse. Side effects of naloxone include restlessness and irritability, dizziness, weakness, stomach pain, fevers, chills, and sneezing and runny nose (without the presence of a cold).

Participating in a medication-assisted treatment program for opioid addiction requires commitment, both for the medical follow-through and the psychological aspects of recovery. If you doubt your ability to commit, other treatment options might be a better fit. Both doctors and judges look at the individual’s background, mental health, and current situation when considering a MAT as a path to sobriety.

Can a MAT Help Your Case?

Contact Patrick S. Fragel, Attorney at Law, P.C. if you’re facing criminal charges related to drug crimes and opioid addiction. Our experienced criminal defense lawyer has been providing comprehensive legal services to the residents of Michigan for over 25 years. Attorney Fragel can defend your interests in court, evaluate the applicability of a MAT option, and help you pursue a lenient plea deal that involves a medically-assisted treatment program.

Don’t leave your future to chance. Contact Patrick S. Fragel, Attorney at Law, P.C. at to explore your legal options.