A Comparison of Medication-Assisted Treatment Options for Opioid Addiction: A Review of the Literature
J Addict Nurs
30 June 2021
In individuals in the United States with opioid addiction, what is the effect of a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in reducing the relapse and harm reduction when comparing the use of buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone? In 2017, it was estimated that 1.7 million individuals suffer from overuse of prescription opiates, 652,000 individuals suffer from heroin use disorder, and greater than 130 individuals die from opiate overdose daily (National Institutes of Health, 2019). Using a systematic literature review, the following results were found. Buprenorphine is currently the second most effective MAT in harm reduction and relapse prevention, can be initiated and maintained through primary care, has a low risk for overdose, but needs to be started only when moderate withdrawals have begun. Methadone is currently the gold standard in MAT and can be started in any stage of withdrawal; however, titrating to effective dose is a lengthy process, and it must be administered at a specialty clinic. Naltrexone in oral form has not been shown to be effective because of lack of adherence; however, the extended-release intramuscular injection form has been shown to reduce relapse and increase the quality of life before initiation individuals must be opioid free for 7-14 days. Choosing the proper MAT is highly individualized. It is recommended that more research be conducted in comparing all MAT options, looking at the quality of life on each MAT, researching motivations to stay on MAT and remain opioid free, and looking at the impact of external reward on adherence to the MAT program.