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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an opioid?

Answer:

An opioid is a type of drug found in some prescription pain medicines, as well as in certain “street drugs” such as heroin. Prescription opioids can assist with controlling pain when used under a doctor’s order. Opioids may be addictive and cause side effects, and even death, when used incorrectly.

Opioids are natural or synthetic chemicals that reduce feelings of pain. Common prescription opioids include:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin®)
  • Oxymorphone (Opana®)
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Methadone
  • Fentanyl

Are opioids necessary?

Answer:

Opioid medications are one of many ways to treat pain. Before deciding whether taking opioid medications is necessary, it may be helpful to understand the type of pain that you are experiencing.

Acute pain: pain that usually starts suddenly and has a known cause, like an injury or surgery. The pain will normally decrease as your body heals.

Chronic pain: pain that lasts 3 months or more and can be caused by a disease, condition, injury, medical treatment, inflammation, or even for an unknown reason.

Prescription opioids can be used to treat severe acute pain, but there is no evidence that they are as effective for long-term use in the treatment of chronic pain. If you are prescribed an opioid, the best approach is to try the lowest possible dose in the smallest quantity. Opioids should only be used when necessary and only for as long as necessary. For acute pain this is generally 3 days or less; more than 7 days is rarely needed.

Before taking opioid medication for chronic pain:

  • Discuss pain treatment options with your doctor, including ones that do not involve prescription drugs.
  • Tell your doctor about your medical history and if you or anyone in your family has a history of substance misuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol.
  • Discuss all of the risks and benefits of taking prescription opioids.

Talking openly with your healthcare provider will help to make sure you’re getting care that is safe, effective, and right for you. Set up a follow-up appointment with your doctor to reevaluate your pain and, if you have been taking opioids for more than a few days, give you guidance on the best way to cope with possible withdrawal symptoms when you stop.

Will I get addicted to opioids?

Answer:

Anyone who takes opioids, prescription or otherwise, can become addicted to them. It is possible to also develop tolerance—meaning that over time you may need higher doses to relieve your pain, putting you at higher risk for a potentially fatal overdose. You can also develop physical dependence—meaning you have withdrawal symptoms when the medication is stopped.

Tell your doctor about your medical history, especially if you or anyone in your family has a history of substance misuse or addiction to drugs or alcohol. Also, never take opioids in higher amounts or more often than prescribed.

What is MAT?

Answer:

MAT is the use of prescription medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a whole-person approach to the treatment of specific substance use disorders (SUD), such as Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). Research shows that a combination of MAT and behavioral therapies is a successful method to treat OUD.

What does the MAT treatment process involve?

Answer:

The components of MAT services may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Initial Assessment
  • Treatment Planning
  • Medications
  • Counseling

Is counseling required with MAT services?

Answer:

Counseling is an important part of treatment and is usually required with all MAT medications.

In certain treatment settings, a patient must receive, at minimum, 50 minutes of counseling with a therapist or counselor. In other settings, counseling is not required, but highly encouraged.

Where can MAT services be provided?

Answer:

MAT services can be provided in a variety of settings and accessed through a large network of physicians and treatment facilities, including many primary care physicians. Find a treatment provider near you.

What medications are typically used in MAT?

Answer:

FDA-approved medications used in MAT for the treatment of OUD include, but are not limited to:

  • Buprenorphine and buprenorphine products
  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone

See Medications Used in MAT for more information.

Will MAT be covered by my insurance plan?

Answer:

MAT is covered by many Medi Cal, Medicare, and private insurance plans. Ask a licensed MAT provider for more information.

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MAT services can be provided in a variety of settings and accessed through a large network of physicians and treatment facilities, including many primary care physicians.

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