What is OAT?
Opioid addiction is a treatable health condition.
Opioid Agonist Treatment, or “OAT”, describes medicines prescribed by doctors and specialized nurses to help stabilize people who are addicted to opioids like heroin and fentanyl. Common examples of OAT medications are methadone, Suboxone and Kadian.
Although everyone’s experience of addiction and recovery is unique, OAT is considered the first choice for treating people who are addicted to opioids.
OAT provides an alternative to illicit street drugs, which are often contaminated and dangerous. People are monitored during treatment and have a regular connection to a health-care team, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and support staff.
These medications provide long-acting relief from opioid withdrawal and cravings. People starting on OAT programs usually stabilize quickly so they can focus on other aspects of their lives, like reconnecting with family and friends.
How does it work?
OAT works by replacing short-acting opioids with longer-acting opioid medication. These medications do not result in a “high” or euphoria.
Methadone comes in the form of a liquid, while Suboxone is a pill dissolved under the tongue. Slow release (24 -hour) oral morphine (Kadian) is also available.
When taken as prescribed, OAT medication prevents opioid withdrawal symptoms for 24-36 hours and helps eliminate cravings for opioid drugs.
Generally a prescription for OAT medications is provided within one to seven days, although this can vary.
Where do I learn more?
OAT is widely available through our Mental Health and Substance Use centres and some family doctors and nurse practitioners. Talk to your primary care provider or call the Mental Health and Substance Use Centre in your community by dialing 310-MHSU.
For more information:
- Learn more on the Opioid Agonist Treatment resource page.
- Check out our OAT Fact Sheet.
- Visit this handbook written by OAT patients, for OAT patients.