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Medications for opioid use disorder save lives.

Each person has a personal path to recovery from opioid use disorder, and treatment with medication is a medical standard of care. It can help people begin their recovery, regain their lives and place in the community, and improve relationships with family and friends.

Why use medications for opioid use disorder?

People who stop using opioids often relapse (return to use) if they do not use medication to help them. Stopping and then restarting opioid use increases the chance of dying from an overdose.

Medications can help people be successful in their recovery by:

  • Lowering the risk of relapse
  • Lowering the risk of overdose death
  • Increasing the time they stay in treatment
  • Improving their lives and relationships with others


What are the medications for opioid use disorder?

The three medications approved to treat opioid use disorder are:


Methadone reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It can also be 

used to treat pain. 

Methadone can reduce the effects of other opioids, which protects a person 

from overdose. For opioid use disorder, methadone is taken as a liquid. 

Where do you get methadone?  

Methadone is provided at licensed opioid treatment programs. These clinics are highly regulated and monitored by the government. People on methadone work hard to be in treatment. For the first 90 days, they may be asked to go to the clinic every day. Clinic staff watch them take each dose. Patients with opioid use disorder always get their methadone from a clinic. They do not get a prescription for methadone to fill at a pharmacy.

Buprenorphine (Suboxone, Sublocade, Brixadi and others)

Buprenorphine reduces withdrawal symptoms and cravings. It can also be used 

to treat pain. Buprenorphine can reduce the effects of other opioids, which protects a person from overdose. 

Most of the time, buprenorphine is taken as a film or tablet that melts under the tongue. These doses are usually taken once each day. It is also available in other forms, such as a shot that lasts one month. 

Where do you get buprenorphine?  

Buprenorphine is provided in a variety of settings like a doctor’s office or hospital. It can be prescribed only by health care providers. Patients fill their prescription for tablets or films at a pharmacy. Patients must visit a health care provider to receive the shot. 

Naltrexone (Vivitrol)

Naltrexone blocks the effects of opioids. However, patients must not use opioids for about 7 to 10 days before starting naltrexone. This delay makes starting 

treatment difficult. Naltrexone comes as pills or a monthly shot. The shot 

has much better results, so it is recommended more than the pills.

Where do you get naltrexone? Naltrexone is provided in a variety of 

settings like a doctor's office, hospital, pharmacy, and even jails or prisons. 

Any prescriber can write the prescription. The shot is administered once a 

month by a health care provider.

Where can I find someone who can prescribe medications for opioid use disorder?  

Step 1: If you have a health care provider (doctor, nurse, etc.), start there. Ask them about methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone, and whether you can be prescribed one of these medications. If your health care provider is unable or unwilling to prescribe these medications, request a referral to another provider who can prescribe them.

Step 2: If you do not have a health care provider, find a local treatment provider in your community by using the maps on our community pages.


Important Notes

  • These medications can save lives.
  • If you stop taking medication for opioid use disorder, it can increase the risk of overdose and death.
  • You should discuss with a health care provider which one would work best for you.
  • You should never stop taking the medication without the guidance of a health care provider. Never stop taking them on your own.
  • More information on medications for opioid use disorder can be found here

Medications for Opioid Use Disorder Resources