Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) combines long-term behavioral therapy and medication programs to treat opioid addiction and is proven to be the most effective path to successful rehabilitation.


There are no easy roads or guarantees for recovery from opioid addiction. It takes time, commitment and, most importantly, support for the brain to recover from the chemical changes caused by recurrent opioid abuse. Just as understanding the nature of someone’s addiction and experience is critical to supporting their recovery, so is reducing their cravings for opioids. Through regimented medication, the desire to use can be brought down to a manageable level as the brain gradually recovers.

Medication-assisted treatment has helped countless people rehabilitate from opioid addiction. The three most common types of medication are methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine. Methadone, the most widely known, and buprenorphine, are opioids themselves. As a result, MAT has taken an undeserved hit from critics who believe a medication shouldn’t be used to treat addiction for another drug. However, these criticisms simply do not stand up to any kind of examination. In fact, MAT boasts a significantly higher success rate (60-90%) than the non-medication treatments (5-15%) supported by many of those same critics.8“Methadone Treatment Issues.” California Society of Addiction Medicine. March 2018. csam-asam.org/methadone-treatment-issues

As the interviews on this site will support, opioid addiction is a disease that needs long-term treatment, from remission through recovery. For those ready to make the potentially life-saving decision to get help for opioid addiction, MAT represents the best chance for a successful recovery and lasting sobriety.

In Colorado there are 22 opioid treatment programs, clinics that provide induction and daily dosing of MAT. Colorado also has hundreds of primary care providers that have a special license to prescribe buprenorphine in your local doctor’s office. Use the Buprenorphine Treatment Practice Locator to find a provider near you.

MAT boasts a significantly higher success rate (60-90%) than the non-medication treatments (5-15%)


There’s still an entrenched stigma against medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in the treatment community. Medication-assisted treatment includes the use of medications such as methadone, buprenorphine or naltrexone. However, the data clearly supports its use. It’s not debatable: we’ve seen significant decreases in overdose deaths, HIV and Hepatitis C transmission rates and other types of substance-use associated infections. People who are receiving MAT usually also have lower rates of incarceration and are more likely to retain custody of their children. These have coincided with increases in productivity and an uptake of medical and mental health treatment, meaning people are getting treatment for other health conditions while receiving medication-assisted treatment.

All medications included in medication-assisted treatment have a place: methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. One medication is not necessarily better than another; it’s very important to have choices so that healthcare providers can recommend the right medicine for the individual person.