Medication Assisted Treatment

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medications with counseling and behavioral therapies, to provide a “whole-patient” approach to treatment of substance use disorders. MAT is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids such as heroin and prescription pain relievers that contain opiates. The prescribed medication operates to normalize brain chemistry, block the euphoric effects of alcohol and opioids, relieve physiological cravings, and normalize body functions without the negative effects of the abused drug. 

While MAT may be a viable option for some patients, it is simply a tool in the toolkit when treating substance use disorders, and appropriate therapy should be chosen in consultation with a licensed healthcare provider.

For Tennesseans struggling with opioid addiction, please refer to our treatment services resource.  In addition, please see the following medically assisted treatment options.

Buprenorphine is a Schedule III opioid narcotic that can be used in an Opioid Treatment Program setting. It can also be prescribed by specially-trained physicians and filled at a pharmacy. Buprenorphine is a “partial opioid agonist.” This means that it works similarly to methadone, but it does not cause a full opioid response in the body. This should not be confused with potency, however. Buprenorphine is a strong medicine and should only be used for patients with known history of opioid use.

Buprenorphine Treatment Practitioner Locator

The above link from SAMHSA provides a list of self-reported buprenorphine prescribers. There may be some repetition or duplication depending on the physician-reported address.

TDMHSAS Licensure Search (under License Category select "Alcohol and Drug Non-Residential Office-Based Opiate Treatment Facilities")

Public Guidance Regarding Removal of the DATA Waiver (Published 2-27-23)
Video Presentation Outlining DATA Waiver Removal Guidance

Methadone is a long-acting opioid used to treat addiction in Opioid Treatment Programs. The aim of methadone treatment is to prevent withdrawal symptoms and to reduce cravings for opioid drugs. Methadone is a Schedule II opioid narcotic with potency that varies from patient to patient. Due to risk of overdose, doctors prescribe a low dose to begin treatment and observe patients closely.

The Division of Alcohol and Drug Substance Abuse Services is responsible for oversight of Tennessee’s opioid treatment programs also known as medication-assisted treatment programs. The State Opioid Treatment Authority within the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is responsible for program oversight and clinical assistance. Specifically, the State Opioid Treatment Authority is responsible for providing administrative, medical, and pharmaceutical oversight to certified opioid treatment programs, including, but not limited to planning, developing, educating, and implementing policies and procedures to ensure that opioid addiction treatment is provided at an optimal level.

There are currently 22 opioid treatment programs across Tennessee. To find a location, click on this link for a map.

Additionally, you can visit this website link for listings and locations of OTP clinics throughout the United States.

TDMHSAS Rules for Non-Residential Opioid Treatment Facilities

For more information, contact:
Ira Lacy
Opioid Program Manager
Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
Phone: (615) 741-6995

Naltrexone comes as a tablet or long-acting injection. It is not a controlled substance. Naltrexone is an “opioid antagonist” which means its effects are opposite of narcotic drugs. Naltrexone has been shown to be effective at encouraging sobriety and reducing substance abuse. Naltrexone may be available through your regular doctor’s office.

Additional Resources

Medication Assisted Treatment Emergency Department Induction Project
FY22-23 Annual Report

This document details a project between TDMHSAS and the Tennessee Hospital Association to start patients in emergency departments on medications for addiction treatment and highlights successes and challenges in this life-saving work.  For more information about this project, please contact Jessica Youngblom at

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) Educational Materials for Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Providers