Medications to treat Opioid Use Disorder

Methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone are successful in treating opioid and other substance use addictions because each medication works to suppress the overwhelming symptoms of addiction including cravings and withdrawal. Through the balancing support of medication, the patient is bolstered to be able to fully engage in counseling and support. Upon engagement with each of the supportive services Durango Recovery Center offers, the client can then begin to implement positive long-term changes in their life, which in turn, cultivates the new healthy patterns of behavior necessary to achieve sustained addiction remission.


Methadone is a long acting, synthetic full opioid agonist, which activates certain opioid receptors in the brain, and has been used for opioid addiction since the 1960s. Methadone tricks the brain into thinking it is still getting the problem opioid. The person taking the medication feels normal, not high, and withdrawal does not occur. Methadone also reduces cravings. 

Therapeutically appropriate doses of Methadone produce cross-tolerance for short-acting opioids, thereby suppressing withdrawal symptoms and opioid craving, as the short-acting opioid is eliminated from the body. Extensive bioavailability and long half-life, an adequate daily oral dose of methadone suppresses withdrawal and drug craving for 24 to 36 hours in most patients who are opioid addicted.

Frequently asked questions about methadone.


Buprenorphine is a long acting, semi-synthetic partial opioid agonist with a strong affinity for the same receptors in the brain to which opioids attach. Buprenorphine can reduce cravings and eliminate the euphoric effect of opiates and opioids. At low doses buprenorphine produces sufficient agonist effect to enable opioid-addicted individuals to discontinue the misuse of opioids without experiencing withdrawal symptoms. The agonist effects of buprenorphine increase with increasing doses of the drug until reaching a plateau, and then no longer continue to increase with further increases in dosage, called a "ceiling effect." When combined with therapy, counseling, and support, patients receiving buprenorphine treatment, can implement positive, long-term change and healthy patterns, and are successful sustaining addiction recovery.


Frequently asked questions about buprenorphine  


Naltrexone, a derivative of naloxone, is an orally active and long acting opioid antagonist. It is neither reinforcing nor addicting and has no potential for abuse or diversion for non-prescribed use.   

Frequently asked questions about naltrexone