FDA-Approved Medications for Addiction Treatment

What are the FDA-approved medications?

The journey toward recovery from addiction is a unique and challenging path, often marked by unexpected twists and turns. As individuals strive to break free from the cycle of dependence, they often seek alternative, practical options. Within this context, FDA-approved medications for recovery have emerged as a transformative approach, offering relief, hope, and a renewed sense of the possibility of a more fulfilling life.

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a holistic approach designed to address substance use disorders, particularly conditions like opioid and alcohol use. MAT is a method endorsed by the FDA that strategically combines medications with counseling and behavioral therapies, providing individuals with a comprehensive pathway to recovery.

For those who are navigating the road to rehabilitation and may have tried some treatments or are still seeking information and want to start with MAT, a key question often arises: “Which medications are FDA-approved?” As the regulatory authority overseeing pharmaceuticals and medical interventions, the FDA is critical in ensuring the safety and efficacy of medications to overcome substance abuse.

In this blog post, MAT Care Clinics explores the crucial role of FDA-approved medications in treating addiction. We will discuss the main types of medication used to combat drug abuse and highlight their benefits.

Evolution of MAT

Medication-assisted treatment stands at the forefront of modern rehabilitation medicine, offering a multifaceted approach to substance use disorders, from its early developments in the 1960s to becoming a pivotal component in contemporary addiction medicine. One of the initial breakthroughs was the introduction of Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT), which gained prominence for stabilizing individuals with opioid dependence by alleviating cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

The landscape of MAT underwent a significant transformation in 2002 with the approval of buprenorphine by the FDA. As a partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine provided a safer alternative, mitigating the risk of overdose while effectively managing cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Further advancements came with the integration of Naltrexone, an opioid receptor antagonist, into MAT treatments. Naltrexone proved valuable in preventing relapse. In 2010, the FDA’s approval of extended-release injectable Naltrexone added a convenient monthly treatment option, enhancing the flexibility and accessibility of MAT.

A better understanding of the neurobiological aspects of substance use disorder and the need for comprehensive interventions are driving the acceptance and integration of MAT into mainstream treatment approaches. Today, as indicated in the book “Medications for Opioid Use Disorders Save Lives,” MAT is considered a vital component of evidence-based addiction treatment, and its continued refinement reflects a commitment to providing individuals with adequate and tailored strategies for sustained recovery.

Now that you have a solid grasp of MAT, it’s time to take a closer look at the various FDA-approved medications and the crucial role of this organization in the fight against misuse.

FDA-Approved Medication Assisted Treatment Options

Several medications have been FDA-approved to address opioid and alcohol use. Here’s a closer look at the most common ones.


It is a medication with versatile applications known for its effectiveness in managing various types of pain and addressing opioid dependence. It operates as a critical component in agonist substitution therapy, a strategic approach aimed at treating addiction by substituting a potent opioid (such as heroin) with the more controlled and regulated effects of buprenorphine.

According to SAMHSA, when used according to medical guidance, buprenorphine proves to be both safe and efficient. Its distinctive pharmacological characteristics contribute to the following:

  1. Alleviating the impact of physical dependence on opioids, including symptoms of withdrawal and cravings.
  2. Enhancing safety in situations involving overdose.
  3. Reducing the likelihood of misuse.

Buprenorphine is available under several trade names, depending on the formulation and combination with other substances. Some common brand names include:

  • Subutex
  • Sublocade
  • Suboxone
  • Zubsolv
  • Bunavail
  • Belbuca


Methadone, also known as Dolophine and Methadose, is a long-acting opioid agonist, meaning it activates the same receptors in the brain that other opioids do, but it has a more prolonged effect. When administered at the appropriate dosage, methadone effectively alleviates withdrawal symptoms and diminishes drug cravings without inducing a sense of euphoria or drowsiness in the individual.

Methadone is dispensed in a controlled manner through specialized clinics as part of MAT. This regulated dispensing ensures proper supervision, and healthcare professionals monitor and adjust the dosage as needed throughout the treatment process.

According to the American Addiction Centers, some benefits of using methadone while in the rehabilitation process are:

  • Provide more robust activation of opioid receptors.
  • Methadone’s long half-life allows for once-daily dosing, promoting stability and reducing the frequency of clinic visits.
  • By addressing both withdrawal symptoms and cravings, methadone helps individuals focus on recovery without the constant concern with drug-seeking behavior.


This FDA-approved medication is primarily for treating alcohol and opioid dependence. It works by blocking the effects of opioids in the brain, which helps reduce cravings and the rewarding effects of these substances. Essentially, it acts as a roadblock for opioids, preventing them from exerting their usual influence on the brain’s reward system.

In the realm of alcohol use disorder, Naltrexone mitigates the enjoyable sensations tied to alcohol consumption, thereby facilitating individuals’ ability to moderate or cease their intake. Consequently, this medication does not pose any risk of abuse or diversion.

Naltrexone is available in the market under two leading brand names, including:

Vivitrol: Offers unique benefits through its extended-release injectable form. With a once-monthly injection, Vivitrol provides continuous coverage against the effects of opioids and alcohol. This extended-release nature eliminates the need for daily medication adherence, enhancing treatment compliance.

In our center in Nashua, individuals receive Vivitrol through a streamlined once-monthly injection, a process designed to enhance convenience and treatment adherence. This extended-release nature of Vivitrol ensures continuous coverage against the effects of opioids and alcohol, offering a robust protective mechanism that significantly contributes to relapse prevention.

Revia: Distinguished by its oral formulation of Naltrexone, it is a pivotal medication in dependence treatment. By serving as an opioid receptor antagonist, Revia effectively blocks the rewarding effects of opioids and alcohol, creating a deterrent to substance misuse.

The Landscape of Medication-Assisted Treatment

When assessing the effectiveness of FDA-approved medications, it’s crucial to acknowledge that variations in success rates are contingent upon individual factors such as the severity of dependence, the presence of co-occurring mental health disorders, and the level of social support. Furthermore, the commitment to ongoing counseling and behavioral interventions plays a pivotal role in determining the overall success of medication-assisted treatment.

Emphasizing MAT’s significant role in mitigating opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms is paramount. The National Institute on Drug Abuse indicates that methadone, acting as a long-acting opioid agonist, has played a vital role in stabilizing individuals with Opioid use disorder. Buprenorphine, functioning as a partial opioid agonist, has demonstrated effectiveness in minimizing cravings and withdrawal, facilitating patients’ more active engagement in the recovery process. Additionally, Naltrexone, an opioid receptor antagonist, proves valuable in preventing relapse by obstructing the euphoric effects of opioids.

Furthermore, SAMHSA highlights that MAT significantly contributes to reducing morbidity and mortality associated with opioid abuse by 25%. It not only helps manage withdrawal symptoms but also decreases overdose deaths, lowers the transmission of infectious diseases, enhances treatment retention, improves social functioning, and reduces criminal activity. The success of MAT is not only attributed to the medications themselves but also the integration of behavioral therapies, emphasizing the holistic nature of substance dependence treatment.

The Role of the FDA in Fighting Against Addiction

During this blog, we have discussed various FDA-approved medications and their positive impacts on the path to recovery. However, it’s essential to delve into the role of the FDA itself. While we understand that the FDA safeguards and promotes public health through the supervision and control of the safety of foods, dietary supplements, prescription and over-the-counter medications, vaccines, and more, it is equally important to explore its contributions to the battle against addiction.

The FDA assumes a pivotal role in combating addiction by actively regulating and overseeing the approval, marketing, and safety of medications employed in the treatment of substance use disorders. Here are essential facets of the FDA’s involvement in drug use:

Medication Approval: Evaluates and approves medications for substance use disorders, including opioid and alcohol use disorders.

Setting Standard for Treatments: Establishes standards for developing and approving medications to treat addiction. These standards ensure that prescriptions meet specific criteria for safety and effectiveness before they can be made available to the public.

Regulating Marketing and Labeling: Regulates the marketing and labeling of medications to prevent misleading claims and ensure that healthcare professionals and the public receive accurate information and avoid any misleading claims.

Post-Market Surveillance: The FDA actively monitors the safety of medications once they are approved and available. They track and analyze reports of adverse events and take appropriate actions, such as updating safety information or, in rare cases, removing a medication from the market.

MAT Care Clinics and FDA-approved medications

As individuals navigate the road to rehabilitation, the choice of FDA-approved medications becomes a crucial consideration. Buprenorphine, with its versatile applications, methadone’s long-acting effectiveness, and Naltrexone’s role in preventing relapse, offers individuals varied options tailored to their needs. At the forefront of providing these FDA-approved medications, MAT Care Clinics exemplifies a commitment to comprehensive treatment.

If you or someone you know is ready to break free from the grip of drug or alcohol dependence, we invite you to take the courageous step of reaching out to us. MAT Care Clinics are dedicated to guiding individuals toward lasting recovery, offering support through evidence-based treatments.

Take control of your story by seeking help. Contact us today at (833) 622-0628 or submit your information to contact you.


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