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 / Opioids / Treatment For Opioid Abuse And Addiction

Treatment for Opioid Abuse and Addiction

According to drug abuse statistics, out of 72% of overdose deaths, 7 out of 10 are cases of opioid overdose. Almost 50,000 people die of opioid overdose yearly, with over 10 million overusing these drugs. 92% of people abusing opioids use prescription opioids annually.

Millions of Americans suffer from opioid addiction daily, with some never seeking treatment. No single treatment is suitable for everyone, but recovery is possible, and addiction treatment is available for opioid use disorder. Opioid addiction, also known as opioid use disorder, is a relapsing and chronic disease that may affect anyone.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioids

Opioid dependence is a cluster of behavioral, cognitive, and psychological symptoms where individuals continue to use opiates even when the drug causes significant problems. Dependency is characterized by repeated drug use, leading to opioid tolerance, compulsive drug-taking, and withdrawal symptoms. Opioid withdrawal symptoms might include nausea, anxiety, restlessness, etc. OUD may lead to increased health risks, criminal activity, and mortality when left untreated.


Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction involves using various medicines to try and counter the effects of opioids in the brain. Medical professionals might combine behavioral therapies and counseling that help a patient sustain recovery. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves three drugs to treat opioid dependence, including methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.



Methadone has been used since the 1960s and is predominantly used to treat addiction in patients who fail to respond to other medications. This drug is only legally administered by approved federally registered outpatient treatment programs. These programs dispense the medicine to patients daily and enable counselors to offer psychological interventions when necessary.

Methadone is a receptor agonist used as a substitute for opioids preventing withdrawal symptoms and side effects.


Buprenorphine (Subutex ®)

The FDA approved Buprenorphine (Subutex ®) in 2002 to treat opioid addiction. Unlike methadone, Buprenorphine (Subutex ®) is a partial opioid agonist. However, like methadone Buprenorphine (Subutex ®) helps relieve drug cravings without producing any dangerous side effects or the "high" feeling. Buprenorphine (Subutex ®) is also issued daily but only at a highly regulated treatment program where counseling and other behavioral interventions are essential to help a patient.


Buprenorphine has another formulation called Suboxone® that is taken sublingually or orally. Suboxone® contains naloxone - an opioid antagonist that helps prevent injecting opioids. If you were to inject Suboxone, the naloxone present induces withdrawal symptoms that are averted if you take the prescription orally. For this reason, Suboxone is prescribed weekly by a physician with a DATA 2000 Waiver from a federal agency. 



Naltrexone or Vivitrol is only prescribed when a patient thoroughly detoxifies from opioids or at least 7 to 10 days after using the drug. Taking naltrexone while having opioids in your system may trigger various acute withdrawal symptoms such as vomiting, pains, and diarrhea. Since naltrexone is an opioid antagonist, it blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of opioids like Hydrocodone, Percocet, Morphine, etc.


Remember that medication-assisted treatments involve other aspects of the patient's life and other support services and behavioral therapies. Medication-assisted treatments are often conducted in highly monitored inpatient and outpatient programs to ensure maximum patient protection.   

Medically Reviewed:


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Expert Contributor

Dr. Williams presently serves on the board of Directors for two non-profit service organizations. He holds a Master’s degree in Human Services from Lincoln University, Philadelphia, Pa, and a Ph.D. with a concentration in Clinical Psychology from Union Institute and University. In Cincinnati, Ohio. He is licensed to practice addictions counseling in both New Jersey and Connecticut and has a pending application as a practicing Psychologist in New Jersey.

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Therapy Options at Rolling Hills Recovery Center

Opioid addiction treatment also involves therapy options tailored to the patient's needs. Depending on a patient's needs, therapists may take place in different settings such as home, inpatient, or outpatient programs. They include:

Motivational Enhancement and Motivational Interviewing Therapy

Motivation is essential to any psychological treatment and has proven effective in treating opioid addiction. If patients are not motivated enough to quit opioids, they fall at significant risk of relapsing and overdosing. Motivational interviewing helps patients prepare for rehab, inpatient, or outpatient programs before starting their recovery journey.


Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the most commonly used therapy for treating opioid addiction. It involves a counselor and the patient or a group of patients with similar characteristics. The patients are made to substitute their negative thoughts and situations with more positive ones, often involving patients to change their thinking patterns.


Family Therapy

Family therapy involves counseling the family as a whole and working on the principle that a family has a significant role in a patient's recovery. Family therapy is short-term counseling that helps all the family members resolve conflicts and improve communication. This therapy may continue even after your loved one recovers from OUD.


Twelve-Step Facilitation

Twelve-step facilitation therapy is a strategy that takes a patient through 12-step self-help groups hence promoting abstinence. The three predominant ideas involve accepting one has a problem and needs treatment, surrendering to each other's help, following recovery activities in the 12-step program, and finally getting active involvement in the 12-step meetings and related activities.


Contingency Management

Contingency management therapy has a policy for rewarding a patient for achieving a milestone. For instance, if a patient can stay sober for a week, management might choose to cite that particular patient. However, if a patient fails, they may be punished.

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Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab Treatment Options

Both inpatient and outpatient rehab options can help victims recover from their addiction though it depends on a patient's needs. Inpatient rehab is an intensive, residential program that targets patients with severe and chronic addiction programs. Outpatient rehab is a part-time program that allows patients to continue their lives or routines while attending rehab.

However, both of these settings offer:



The severity of your addiction is one major factor determining whether you or your loved one enroll at an inpatient or outpatient treatment center. You must also consult with your loved ones and family since your choice impacts them.

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The Bottom Line

Do not delay. Find the proper treatment to enroll in once you notice signs of opioid addiction. Treatment saves lives and helps victims get back to living healthy and sober lives. Do not fear treatment, however hard it seems, because its target is to help return victims to functioning and productive lives in their community, family, and workplace.


Take caution and find help today! Your loved one's life might depend on it.  

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Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) options
Therapy options at Rolling Hills Recovery Center
Inpatient and outpatient rehab treatment options
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