Opioid Treatment Programs

Tennesseans suffering from addiction to opioid-based drugs, including but not limited to prescription pain killers, have the oppo­­rtunity to enter treatment programs to break their cycle of substance abuse.

There are currently twelve licensed clinics in Tennessee where individuals can receive treatment to reduce cravings and lessen withdrawal symptoms caused by quitting the abused drug. The two most common medicines used in Tennessee opioid treatment programs are Methadone and Buprenorphine.

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.

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.

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. Although not commonly used in Tennessee Opioid Treatment Programs, naltrexone may be available through your regular doctor’s office.

Maintenance Phase
The patient enters the maintenance phase once the daily dose of treatment medication is at its lowest effective dose to prevent symptoms of opioid withdrawal for 24 hours. The goal is to gradually reduce the dose and stop the medication while maintaining sobriety and preventing relapse.

The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services’ State Opioid Treatment Authority is responsible for program oversight and clinical assistance of the Opioid Treatment Programs.

Locate an Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) in Tennessee by clicking on the Tennessee Opioid Treatment Clinics Map link to the left.

Click here to find a Buprenorphine treatment program in Tennessee.

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