Medication Assisted Therapies for Heroin Addicts

Methadone isn’t the only option for medication-assisted therapies for heroin addicts. In fact, there are at least three different medications you can use as part of your treatment to put an end to your heroin abuse and start living a better life. Call 800-994-1867Who Answers? now to be matched with the best rehab program for your needs.


Methadone maintenance is one of the most popular treatment options for heroin addiction for a number of reasons. For one, it has been used professionally as a heroin addiction treatment since the 1970s, according to Harvard Medical School. It is also particularly effective for the treatment of those with severe dependencies, which heroin addicts often form because of the intensity of the effects of the drug. And many methadone maintenance clinics exist all over the country as relatively easy to locate treatment options for opioid addiction.

  • Methadone is an opioid agonist that, when dosed correctly, does not cause euphoria, blocks the opioid receptors in the brain, and allows patients to live their daily lives without experiencing the severe withdrawal symptoms and cravings associated with ending heroin abuse.
  • As stated by the National Institute of Justice, patients are usually given doses of methadone between 80 and 120 mg. The effects of the drug usually wear off after 24 to 36 hours, so patients must receive a dose every day.
  • Patients can only receive methadone through a federally licensed clinic that is allowed to dispense the drug.
  • Unfortunately, there is still a strong stigma associated with methadone maintenance in many communities. This is because many people do not understand the purpose of medication maintenance and because methadone is the most popular of these treatment options for heroin addiction. Many people struggle with their belief (and the belief held by their loved ones) that methadone maintenance is really just another type of addiction, even though it is not.


Medication Assisted Therapies

Buprenorphine has a lower abuse potential than methadone, making it easier to obtain.

Buprenorphine is a much newer option for medication-assisted treatment. Many people choose it because of the stigma methadone has and because it is much easier to obtain than the other drug.

  • Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist. It works similarly to methadone in that it minimizes cravings and withdrawal symptoms and allows individuals to live their daily lives while blocking the opioid receptors in the brain.
  • Buprenorphine is usually taken once a day, although its effects can last longer. Patients can receive a prescription for the drug from a doctor who is licensed to prescribe it instead of only in a specialized clinic like methadone.
  • One reason why the drug is easier to obtain is because it is safer from abuse than methadone. It has a ceiling effect that keeps it from causing the dangerous effects of opioid overdose in many cases, and it is usually paired with naloxone as the brand name drug Suboxone. When a person attempts to crush the drug and snort it, they will experience immediate withdrawal symptoms.
  • Still, optimal-dose buprenorphine is not usually as effective as optimal-dose methadone for the treatment of individuals with severe opioid dependencies (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration).


Naltrexone has a history of compliance issues when it comes to medication-assisted treatment, but a new version of the drug may be better tolerated by future users.

  • Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist. Instead of treating heroin addiction like buprenorphine and methadone do, the drug is only given after a person’s detox ends. It blocks the action of opioids, does not cause sedative effects, and is not addictive. If an individual does use opioids while on naltrexone, they will immediately experience withdrawal effects.
  • A person who takes their medication as prescribed will theoretically never relapse, but many people stop taking naltrexone because of the intense effects of the drug.
  • A new version of the drug called Vivitrol is administered once a month and may remove some of the compliance issues that currently plague the drug’s effectiveness, but it is still unknown if this will work.

Where Can I Find Medication Assisted Therapy for Heroin Addiction?

For more information about methadone safety and to find out if medication-assisted treatment is right for you, call 800-994-1867Who Answers? today.

Call to Find a Methadone ClinicPhone icon800-780-9619 Info iconWho Answers?

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: Rehab Media Group, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.