For patients with opioid use disorder, why use medications such as methadone or buprenorphine that are themselves opioids?

The idea that using medications such as methadone or buprenorphine replaces one addiction with another is misguided. Indeed, patients with opioid use disorders are already “addicted” to opioids as a chemical class, and using medications that are themselves opioids does not worsen the physiological dependence to opioids. Addiction treatment with Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) uses longer-acting and safer medications to help overcome more dangerous opioid addictions. Many studies have shown that maintenance treatment with long-acting opioids like methadone or buprenorphine helps keep patients healthier, reduces criminal activity, and helps prevent drug-related diseases like HIV/AIDs and Hepatitis.

Following detoxification from opioids, complete, unassisted abstinence is associated with relapse rates as high as 90%.

Access “Myths and Misconceptions: Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction” at:

More information can be found at:
Volkow, N. D., et al. (2014). “Medication-Assisted Therapies – Tackling the Opioid Overdose Epidemic.” N Engl J Med.

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