Various medications can be prescribed as part of an addiction recovery plan. Some medications are used to replace an addictive substance in order to lessen cravings, while others are used to manage withdrawal symptoms.

Medications are not a magic bullet, but can help stabilize your life so that you can focus on other areas while receiving counselling or other support.


For some people who are addicted to opioids (e.g., heroin, morphine, oxycodone, hydromorphone), medications such as methadone or buprenorphine can be used. Methadone and buprenorphine decrease the craving for opioids. They also help to minimize withdrawal symptoms because they are eliminated more slowly from the body than other opioids. Other medications such as clonidine may also be used to help with symptoms of opioid withdrawal such as chills and flushing.


For mild-to-moderate withdrawal symptoms, most people can be treated with supportive treatment and do not need medication. For more severe withdrawal, people may receive benzodiazepines (e.g., diazepam) and/or phenobarbital.

Once you are alcohol free, medications used to treat alcohol dependence include naltrexone and acamprosate. Naltrexone decreases the craving for alcohol and blocks the pleasurable effects of drinking. Acamprosate reduces the symptoms of withdrawal. Medications are not for everyone, so talk to your doctor about what might work best for you.

Written and reviewed by the MediResource Clinical Team