Opioid Use Disorder | Medication-Assisted Treatment

MaineHealth shares your concerns about how the opioid epidemic is affecting our communities.  Our providers work to treat pain safely and effectively, while lowering the risk that opioids can be to you, your friends, neighbors or loved ones. You can trust MaineHealth to share what we know about opioids and share what we’re doing to improve the care of our patients. You will find information about opioid use disorder, resources for patients and families to stay safe and alternative ways to treat pain. If you have any questions about the use of opioids in your medical care, please do not hesitate to ask your healthcare provider. 

What is pain?

Pain is a physical and emotional discomfort in your brain when your body is damaged from an illness or injury. 

What is chronic pain?

Chronic pain is when nerves tell your brain there is still pain, even when there may no longer be ongoing injury. Chronic pain typically lasts more than 3 months. 

What are opioids?

Opioids are a medicine, prescribed to treat medium-to-severe pain of any type. They lessen the feeling of pain, but do not treat the injury causing the pain or take away all of the pain. 

What is Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)?

OUD is a chronic (or constant) brain disease that some people can get from taking opioids often. This type of disease leads to craving opioids, not being able to stop using opioids, and can cause major life problems.

What is Integrated Medication-Assisted Treatment (IMAT)?

IMAT combines talk therapy (either individual or group counseling) with medicines that can control cravings and lessen withdrawal symptoms. The medicines help a person feel normal again so they can focus on therapy and help rebuild their life. This therapy can continue as long as medically needed. The medicines that are used are:

  • Buprenorphine (pronounced byoo-pre-nor-feen), also called suboxone
  • Methadone (available only at a methadone clinic)
  • Naltrexone (nal-trek-sohn)

The IMAT program is an effort that ensures patients get the care they need, from anywhere in the MaineHealth system. The program is designed so that all patients get the best quality of care, at the level they need, and at a location as close to home as possible. Patients who need intensive services will get care by providers with special addiction training until they are more stable. More stable and healthy patients can get their IMAT treatment at primary care offices by doctors and behavioral health clinicians. If a patient’s condition worsens, they can switch back to intensive care for more help until they become more stable and ready to return to receiving care at a primary care office.