Opioid Addiction Help: What Treatment Includes And What To Expect?

Last Updated: May 12, 2021

Authored by Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Even though opioids do have a vital role to play in the reduction of pain, especially in cases where a patient has undergone surgery or suffers from a condition like cancer, addiction to these drugs is becoming a global concern. A number of opioid lawsuits against manufacturers, who tried to hide the risks from these drugs, have risen recently. Statistics show that over two million people in the United States abuse heroin or prescription opioids each year. Worldwide, this figure is estimated to reach about 15 million. This epidemic is contributing to at least 33,000 deaths each year. In fact, opioids alone contribute to more than 50% of deaths caused by drug overdoses – and these statistics account only for the United States. Opioid treatment for addicts is available, and individuals are advised to consider these options if they are having difficulty overcoming this substance abuse disorder.

Reasons To Seek Professional Treatment For Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction has become a significant problem. While scientific evidence supports the fact that these medicines can alleviate pain symptoms, the risk of addiction associated with these chemicals is a real concern that needs to be addressed. While some people are looking for ways to initiate an alternative to opioid rehab at home, it is critical to realize the risks that become a concern when professional treatment is not utilized.
Below is an overview of important reasons why people should seek professional services when they have become addicted to RX opioids or illicit drugs in this class of chemicals.

Unique Challenges Faced With Opioid Addiction Treatment

Each case of addiction is unique, and while there are several risks and concerns associated with this type of dependence, a one-size-fits-all approach to treating substance abuse disorders often do not yield the most effective results. These unique challenges faced by a person cannot be effectively addressed by remaining at home and not gaining help from a professional who has been dealing with these issues for some time.

Risk Of Relapse

There is a danger of the patient relapsing when they undergo opioid addiction treatment without the intervention from a professional and trained provider. Relapse put the individual at a higher risk of several complex problems, such as combining substances. Opioids and alcohol may be mixed, for example, to elevate the “high” effect that people are after when they abuse these medicines.

man having a relapse

Risk Of Accidental Death

Opioid overdoses contribute to millions of deaths each year – and this is an important factor to consider for someone who is showing signs of addiction to these drugs. Current opioid misuse measure and studies show that overdose is a common problem that contributes to these drug-related deaths. Without understanding appropriate opioid dose conversion factors, the risk of overdosing becomes possible – and this may even lead to accidental death is some cases.

Access To Medicated Opioid Addiction Treatment

Opioid replacement therapy is considered an effective protocol to help a person’s addiction to these drugs overcome the dependence that developed without experiencing serious withdrawal symptoms. Patients will not gain access to the medications without consulting with a professional; however, which is another reason why treatment at a rehabilitation center is important.

Treatments For Opioid Addiction

There are different treatment protocols that may be included in a person’s program in order to assist with the cessation of drugs. In the majority of cases, a step-by-step process will be initiated, with some unique factors that are tailored to the specific scenario.

In the majority of opioid use disorder cases, the following types of treatment protocols tend to form part of such a program:

Opioid Detoxification

Opioid detox usually forms part of the initial treatment protocol, as this is one of the most critical phases of the program. During detoxification, the person will be provided access to a specialized center in most cases, where they will stop using opioids and be provided the care needed.

Professional Psychological Therapies

Even though opioids have several physiological effects on the body, it is important not to overlook the psychological complications that come with any type of addiction. As part of opioid addiction treatment program, a person is likely to be offered access to psychological treatment services.

Psychological Therapy

This will usually include access to group therapy, as well as one-on-one sessions with a trained counselor. Some psychological therapies may be as follows:

  • Motivational Interviewing and Motivational Enhancement Therapy
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Couples of Family Counseling
  • Contingency Management
  • Neurotherapy

Medicated Treatment

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that some of the most effective medicines that may be used for opioid addiction treatment include:

The report also states that these drugs can definitely help to address the current epidemic that the world is facing with addiction. It is critical for individuals with this type of dependency to consider opting for a medication-assisted treatment protocol, where one of these drugs may be provided to them to help with the process. A methadone clinic is a place for people suffering with opioid addiction. Such clinics use Methadone to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
There are certain types of opioid replacement therapy options that can be provided to the individual as well. Various medicines have been proven to offer an effective way of tapering a patient off opioids. These medicines do not come with the adverse effects of opioids, but may still help to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms that a patient experience – especially during the detoxification period of a treatment program at a rehabilitation facility.These drugs primarily act on the body in order to help reduce these symptoms. Additionally, some of the medicines that have been approved for the use in opioid addiction treatment may also help to control the cravings that the patient might experience for heroin and other types of opioid drugs. These types of medicine can be given to patient only after getting the approval from the doctor.

How Long Does Opioid Rehabilitation Last?

The opioid epidemic has led to several recommendations regarding rehabilitation. While shorter periods were once considered effective, the risk of relapse is something that rehabilitation facilities need to take into account, as well as the person who is suffering from opioid addiction and dependence issues.

doctor working at the clinic

When opioid replacement therapy is utilized, then it is important for the patient to undergo residential treatment and obtain access to a supportive aftercare system as well. In these cases, qualified rehab may be required for a period of up to 12 months. The specific period during which the person will be treated for their addiction does depend on the severity of the dependency that has developed.

Seeking Rehab For Opioid Addicts: What To Look For?

With professional treatment for an addiction to opioid-related drugs being critical, individuals are advised to seek a rehab that can provide them with appropriate rehabilitation services. There are a few facts that people should take into account when looking for opioid use disorder treatment:

  • Budget and location are two of the most important factors that should be kept in mind when looking to undergo treatment for opioid use disorder. A person should consider whether they would like to be treated at a local facility that is close to them or rather undergoes rehabilitation at a resort.
  • Individuals that do not have access to health insurance might have to utilize the services of a facility that offers more affordable detox services or perhaps consider a payment plan.
  • The person should also take note that facilities offer different approaches to opioid dependence treatment. Some offer faith-based treatments, while others might rather take a more generalized approach. The person should consider which method they prefer.

Page Sources

  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Medications to Treat Opioid Use Disorder, https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/medications-to-treat-opioid-addiction/overview
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Opioid addiction, https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/opioid-addiction#statistics

Published on: September 17th, 2019

Updated on: May 12th, 2021

About Author

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed is a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. He is graduated from the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed Zayed has a passion for writing medical and health care articles and focuses on providing engaging and trustworthy information to readers.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.


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