Medications for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD)
Opioid use disorder is not a choice. It’s a disease that can be treated.
Many Americans incorrectly view opioid use disorder as a moral weakness or character flaw. In fact, it is a brain disease that can be treated.
Overcoming addiction takes more than willpower. Medicine can be a very effective part of the solution.
Stigma leads some people to believe that taking medicine for opioid use disorder is “replacing one drug for another” and “not real recovery.” In fact, people who take FDA-approved medicines like buprenorphine (Suboxone®), naltrexone (Vivitrol®), and methadone are more likely to stay in recovery and enjoy healthy, productive lives.
Medications for Opioid Use Disorder save lives.
Each person has their own path to recovery from opioid use disorder, but research shows that medications for opioid use disorder offer the most effective treatment.
- What is Opioid Use Disorder?
- Why Use Medications for Opioid Use Disorder?
- What are the Medications for Opioid Use Disorder?
If people continue to misuse opioids despite negative consequences, they likely have an opioid use disorder. Here are some of the signs:
- Strong urges (cravings) to use opioids
- Trouble cutting down or quitting
- Needing more opioids to get the same effect
- Feeling sick (withdrawal) if trying to stop
- Not taking care of work, school, home or other responsibilities
- Problems with family and friends; spending more time with others who use opioids
- Spending lots of time getting or using opioids, or using in dangerous situations
- Not taking care of sleep, exercise, hygiene or diet; having physical problems
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
The three main medications approved to treat opioid use disorder can:
- Help with cravings
- Block the euphoria (the “high”)
- Help prevent relapse
- Protect against overdose
You can discuss with a health care provider which one would work best for you. Here are things to consider:
- Helps with withdrawal
- You drink it
- You might have to go to a clinic daily for the first 90 days of treatment
Buprenorphine (Common brand names: Suboxone, Sublocade, and Probuphine)
- Helps with withdrawal
- You usually start by taking it as a tablet or film that dissolves in the mouth
- Health care providers must have a certificate to prescribe it, so not all clinics will offer it
- You typically get the prescription filled at a pharmacy
- In most cases, you can take it at home
Naltrexone (Common brand name: Vivitrol)
- You must stop opioid use 7 to 10 days before starting
- You might be prescribed other medications to help with withdrawal symptoms
- Usually given as a shot once a month
- These medications can save lives!
- If you stop taking a medication for opioid use disorder, it can increase the risk of overdose and death.
- You should never stop taking medication without the guidance of a health care provider. Never stop taking them on your own.
Stigma is the disapproval of, or discrimination against, a person based on a negative stereotype. Stigma often affects how people with opioid use disorder are treated, making it difficult for them to find jobs, places to live, and medical care. Even if unintentional, the hurtful words and actions of others can keep people who are struggling with addiction from getting help and staying in treatment for as long as they need it.
Stigma keeps people from getting the best possible care.
The myth that addiction is a lack of willpower stops people from seeing their doctors and getting treatment that can help them rebuild their lives, relationships, and health.
Stigma harms well-being and quality of life.
As a result of harmful attitudes and stereotypes, people with addictions often face devastating consequences like discrimination in employment, loss of housing, and poor treatment from health care professionals.
Stigma leads to overdose deaths.
Fear of being judged or discriminated against can keep people from getting the help they need and increase their chances of dying from an overdose.
You can make a difference by creating a stigma-free environment in your family, community, workplace, and/or health care setting.
In your family
- Learn how to talk to a loved one about their opioid use.
- Understand options for treatment with medicines for opioid use disorder and support your loved one’s interest in going to and staying in treatment, which can be years long.
- Use person-first language (e.g., say “person with opioid use disorder” instead of “addict”) to put people before their diagnosis and choose words that lessen blame and shame.
In your community
- Learn how faith-based and community organizations can support people with opioid use disorder in finding and staying in treatment with the aim of rebuilding their lives and getting back to work.
- Create an action plan to change negative beliefs in your community about opioid use disorder and its treatment with medicine through education, grassroots organizing, and advocacy.
In your workplace
- Discover how workplaces can create a recovery-friendly environment for employees.
- Improve access to treatment with medicines for opioid use disorder at your workplace.