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Know what addiction looks like

    People can become psychologically and physically dependent on opioids very quickly. Opioids affect the brains systems that drive functions like emotion, judgment, motivation and inhibition. For people addicted to these drugs, getting heroin or opioids become the dominant drive in their lives. 

    Things to look for include:

      • Increased use over time
      • Changes in relationships or behavior
      • Mood changes or social isolation
      • A loss of interest in work, school and other activities

    Learn more from a detailed list of the signs of addiction.

What to expect from treatment

    Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is currently the best proven method for treating addiction to heroin or prescription opioids.
    MAT can also be used to treat alcoholism. MAT includes:

      • Medication
      • Counseling
      • Support from family and friends

    In Alaska, there are out-patient opioid treatment programs, and some treatment options through telemedicine.

    Here is a list of treatment providers (pdf) in Alaska that offer MAT.

Medication used in MAT

    Methadone treatment can only be delivered through a SAMHSA-certified opioid treatment program. Getting the dosage right is tricky
    and patients must take the medication daily. After an initial treatment period, patients may be able to take methadone at home between visits to the program. Treatment can last from a year to several years.
    Learn more about methadone.

    Bupenorphrine (Suboxone, Bunavail, Zubsolv)
    Bupenorphrine can be dispensed in a regular health care setting such as a doctor’s office, and offered by a specially certified physician in a community health center, jail or other facility. This medication requires a prescription, and needs to be administered daily or close to daily. An implantable version (Probuphine) can deliver a dose over six months. Treatment length is highly personal, and can be indefinite. There is potential for Suboxone to be misused (to get high, or to be sold to others for misuse).
    Learn more Bupenorphrine.

    Naltrexone (Vivitrol, ReVia, Depade)
    Naltrexone prevents people who use an opioid from getting high by locking onto the receptors in the brain where opioids bind. Vivitrol,
    the injectable form of naltrexone, is effective for around 21-30 days, and has been found to decrease cravings. The once-a-month, long-release formula means people don’t have to take a medication daily. Naltrexone can be prescribed by any health care provider
    who is licensed to prescribe medications. Anyone using naltrexone cannot know exactly when the drug stops being effective. Someone who uses an opioid after the Vivitrol wears off is at a heightened risk of an overdose.
    Learn more naltrexone.

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s MAT webpage offers more information on medication-assisted treatment. Topics on the SAMHSA site include Medication-Assisted Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder Pocket Guide Opioid Overdose Prevention Toolkit.