What Drugs Help With OxyContin Addiction?

Two opioid drugs are approved for the treatment of OxyContin addiction: methadone and buprenorphine. But clonidine and naltrexone can help, too. More on drugs for OxyContin addiction here.

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Reviewed by: Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS

ARTICLE SUMMARY: Buprenorphine and methadone are used to treat OxyContin addiction, as are clonidine and naltrexone. Learn more about dosing protocols and medication-assisted treatment here.


Treating Addiction

Addiction is a medical condition which can be succesfully treated in a medical setting. It does not matter whether this is your first time in rehab, or second or if you’ve made multiple attempts to be drug-free. The main goal of each addiction treatment program is to get to a place where you can operate again.
Abundant evidence shows that methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone all reduce drug use. These medicines work to address cravings for stronger drugs and help you stay in treatment longer, helping make it more likely that you’ll be employable. Not only can medicines reduce the risk of infectious disease transmission…they also begin to curb criminal behavior associated with drug use.
But how do they work?

The medications used to treat addiction help you:

  • Block the euphoric effects of OxyContin.
  • Normalize body functions without the negative effects of OxyContin.
  • Normalize brain chemistry.
  • Relieve cravings.

Medication Assisted Treatment Basics

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the clinical term used for medicines that manage withdrawal symptoms and reduce cravings. When you take these medicines in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies…you begin to feel better physically and psychologically. MAT is primarily used for opiates. This makes MAT a suitable treatment option for OxyContin addiction.

According to the National Institutes on Drug Abuse, the combination of medication and therapy can successfully treat addiction! MAT has been shown as a quite successful method for sustaining recovery.

Medications used in MAT are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There are 3 drugs approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid addiction: buprenorphine, methadone and naltrexone.

1. Methadone – Methadone must be prescribed by a fully licensed Opioid Treatment Program.  Methadone is used to treat addiction because it helps relieves symptoms associated with withdrawal from opiates, blocks the euphoric and sedating effects of opiates and can relieve the craving for opiates that leads to relapse.

2. Buprenorphine – Better known as Suboxone, buprenorphine hcl can be prescribed by physicians with a special DEA license.  Buprenorphine works by blocking the effects of opiates while offering opiate-like effects that appear likely to support abstinence from Oxy’s than a non-opiate or opiate antagonist.

3. Clonidine – Besides being a blood pressure medication, Clonidine also blocks many opioid withdrawal symptoms regulated by the autonomic nervous system: sweating, goose bumps, chills, nausea, and diarrhea.

4. Naltrexone – Naltrexone is an oral opioid blocker that can be started after you are through the opioid withdrawal, and provides a safety net because it blocks opioid effect if the patient does relapse on opioids. Naltrexone does not lessen cravings or have any opioid effect itself. This medication is now available in sustained release, once monthly injections.

Each of these treatments have been demonstrated to be safe and effective in combination with counseling and psychosocial support. MAT programs are clinically driven and tailored to meet each person’s individual needs.


The following costs are estimates only. Each figure represents the cost of the medication with related psychosocial and medical support services. Methadone requires daily visits, while buprenorphine and malterxone patients may recieve outpatient therapy plus twice weekly doctor visits.

Buprenorphine: $115 per week or $6,000 per year.

Methadone: $126 per week or $6,550 per year.

Naltrexone: $290 per week or $14,000 per year.


So, where can you get your hands on these medications?

Unfortunately, access is limited at the moment. Less than 1/2 of privately rehab programs offer MAT and only 1/3 of patients with opioid dependence at these programs actually receive it, according to this SAMHSA book on the use of MAT for  opioids medications.

Further, the Treatment Episode Data Set reported that the proportion of addiction treatment plans that included receiving medications fell from 35 percent in 2002 to 28 percent in 2012. Nearly all U.S. states do not have sufficient treatment capacity to provide medication assisted treatment to all patients with an opioid use disorder.

Easy-to-read drug facts site: easyread.drugabuse.gov

Prescriptions In Recovery

MAT medicines are used:
1. During detox. They help stabilize the physical discomfort and pain felt while giving up on OxyContin.
2. In the weeks, months, and years after detox. In order for a full recovery from addiction, it is essential to work on the psychological aspects of your addiction. MAT helps you by stabilizing the body so you can do the inner work.

NOTE HERE: Always consult with a doctor when starting medication treatments. Combining medications used in MAT with anxiety treatment medications can be fatal. 


According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2014, an estimated 1.8 million people had an opioid use disorder related to prescription pain relievers. Do medicines help these people recover from addiction?


As a therapeutic approach, MAT has been proven to be clinically effective. MAT provides a comprehensive and individually tailored program of medication and behavioral therapy. But besides this MAT, also includes support services that address the needs of those in recovery. The benefits of this therapeutic approach are:

  • Improved patient survival rates (less overdose or death).
  • Increased retention in treatment.
  • Decreased illicit drug use and other criminal activity.
  • Increased ability to gain and maintain employment.
  • Improved birth outcomes among pregnant women with addiction problems.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with addiction problems are at greater risk of contracting or transmitting an HIV infection. MAT can contribute to lowering a person’s risk of contracting HIV or hepatitis C by reducing the potential for relapse.


Want To Find Out More?

In this article we outlined the importance of medications in the treatment of OxyContin addiction. Still have questions? In case we’ve missed anything, we encourage you to use the section for questions below. We are always happy to hear from you and will do our best to provide you with a personal and prompt response.

Reference sources: NCBI: Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Addiction
SAMHSA: Substance Use Disorders
FDA: FDA Statement
About the author
Jana Burson M.D. is board-certified in Internal medicine, and certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine. After practicing primary care for many years, she became interested in the treatment of addiction. For the last six years, her practice has focused exclusively on Addiction Medicine. She has written a book about prescription pain pill addiction: "Pain Pill Addiction: Prescription for Hope." Also see Dr. Burson's blog here.
Medical Reviewers
Dr. Manish Mishra, MBBS serves as the Chief Medical Officer of the Texas Healt...

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a licensed medical professional.

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