Home » Services » Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Detox

When you think about going into a detox program for your drug addiction, being told to take new drugs is probably the last thing you’d think would happen. And while it may seem like a strange or even worrisome idea, there are in fact a number of different drugs that are commonly used in detox programs. This is called medication-assisted treatment, or MAT. MAT is also referred to as Medication Assisted Treatment. Medications used during MAT work to help reduce withdrawal symptoms, which makes the detox process quicker and easier to deal with. And in some cases, MAT actually makes detox safer by preventing potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms.

What is Withdrawal?

When someone abuses drugs or alcohol on a regular basis, their brain gets used to having these substances in their system. This is called dependency, and means that your brain craves drugs or alcohol in order to make you feel normal. Your brain forgets how to function without substances in your system, and if you stop taking them, you end up experiencing unpleasant negative symptoms. These symptoms are called withdrawal, and can be physical, emotional, or psychological. Withdrawal varies depending on what substance you are addicted to. The two most common, and most necessary, detox programs in the U.S. today are for opioids and alcohol.

Heroin Detox Symptoms

Heroin detox is considered one of the most difficult to go through because of how unpleasant the symptoms can be, though they are very rarely life-threatening. Many people who try to stop using heroin on their own relapse because they cannot deal with the withdrawal symptoms. In some cases, this can lead to an overdose as the person’s tolerance is either lower, or they take a higher dose to make the symptoms go away. Without the help of heroin detox medications, withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Muscle Aches
  • Sweating
  • Yawning
  • Runny Nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach Cramps

Heroin Detox Medications

Heroin detox medications work to help relieve the symptoms of withdrawal so that a person can avoid relapsing in order to feel better. There are currently four different heroin detox medications used in rehab facilities today, each with their own pros and cons. These include:


Methadone is a type of slow-release opioid that is very commonly used as a heroin detox medication. Because it enters and remains in your system for longer periods of time, it does not get you “high.” It does, however, make your brain think that you are taking heroin, which prevents withdrawal symptoms from happening. Methadone does not “cure” a heroin addiction; it simply prevents you from craving it. People who utilize methadone as a heroin detox medication will need to take it on a regular basis, and then be slowly weaned off of it under a doctor’s care. Depending on how long you have been abusing heroin, it can take several years until this process is complete. While this may seem like a very long time, you are still able to lead a totally normal, sober life on methadone.


Much like methadone, buprenorphine is a type of opioid, though it is not as potent. It also helps prevent withdrawal symptoms, and can be used as a long-term solution to help prevent relapse. People who take buprenorphine as a heroin detox medication will have to be weaned off of it over time in order to prevent relapse.


Unlike the two previous heroin detox medication options, clonidine is not a type of opioid. Instead, this medication works to help relieve certain withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose, and stomach cramps. It does not help reduce heroin cravings.


Another option for heroin detox medications is naltrexone. This medication works to reduce heroin cravings by blocking the opioid receptors in your brain. This means that, if you do relapse and take heroin, you will not get high. You will, however, experience withdrawal symptoms for a short period of time, which can help people from relapsing. And unlike methadone and buprenorphine, naltrexone does not carry a risk of dependency. It is best suited to people who have not been to heroin detox before.

Alcohol Detox Symptoms

Unlike heroin withdrawal, the symptoms of alcohol detox also affect your mental health. Many people experience very serious mood issues, and can even have psychotic episodes. The most common alcohol detox symptoms are:

  • Panic attacks
  • Migraines
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Delirium Tremens (DTs)
  • Hallucinations
  • Severe Insomnia or Nightmares
  • Depression or Thoughts of Suicide
  • Psychosis

Alcohol Detox Medications

Alcohol detox medications work by reducing withdrawal symptoms. For people with very serious alcohol addictions, taking alcohol detox medications can be a matter of life and death. This is because you are at risk of experiencing very serious symptoms, like seizures, if you try to stop drinking without the help of a MAT program. The options for alcohol detox medications include:


Also called benzos, this is the most commonly used alcohol detox medication. It helps to relax you, easing anxiety, depression, and other mental health-related side effects of alcohol withdrawal. It is also effective at preventing seizures, which is especially important for people with very serious alcohol addictions.


Naltrexone can also be used as an alcohol detox medication. It does not reduce withdrawal symptoms or cravings for alcohol, but it does work to prevent you from getting intoxicated if you do relapse. You will, however, experience a number of different negative side effects that will make drinking very unpleasant. This can help people in recovery to stay sober.

Medication-Assisted Treatment in Nashville

Many people with an addiction are tempted to try and detox at home. While it may seem like a good idea to try this, it can be both ineffective and dangerous. At Detox Nashville, we have many different tools at hand, including Medication Assisted Treatment to help you detox safely with fewer withdrawal symptoms – and give you a much better chance at getting sober for good. Call Detox Nashville today at (615) 845-4747 or fill out our contact. form below and one of our admissions coordinators will reach out to you shortly.