Opioids are a class of drug including prescription painkillers, fentanyl, and heroin with opioid treatment making use of FDA-approved medications to streamline opioid withdrawal. 

The United States has experienced an ongoing opioid epidemic since the late 1990s. Opioids are highly effective painkillers, but they also have a strong potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction. Tolerance to opioids builds rapidly, even when used exactly as prescribed. 

What to Expect at Opioid Rehab

Opioid treatment programs can be categorized as follows: 

  • Inpatient opioid addiction treatment
  • Outpatient opioid addiction treatment

At an inpatient facility, sometimes known as residential rehab, all therapy takes place at a treatment center over 30 to 90 days. You remain at the rehab from detox to discharge. 

Outpatient treatment for opioid addiction involves attending therapy sessions for a few hours each week at a rehab center. Overnight, you return home or to a sober living community. 

With outpatient rehab, there are more intensive forms of programming available at most rehabs, including IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) and PHPs (partial hospitalization programs). The only difference between these forms of outpatient therapy is the time commitment involved. 

Research shows that the majority of mild and moderate addictions can be treated effectively with intensive outpatient treatment. Residential rehab is almost always advisable in the case of severe opioid use disorders. Inpatient treatment is also recommended for those with unstable or unsupportive home environments not conducive to recovery. 

Both heroin use disorder and opioid use disorder typically respond to treatment with any of these FDA-approved medications: 

  • Buprenorphine
  • Naltrexone
  • Methadone

The therapies and services offered are broadly similar in both inpatient and outpatient opioid rehab centers. IN addition to medication-assisted treatment – more on this below – you can expect access to the following treatments: 

  • Individual counseling: Working closely with a therapist, you will probe the specifics of your addiction to opioids.
  • Group counseling: Group counseling sessions may not provide the same personalized focus as one-to-one sessions. In return, though, you get the peer support of others in recovery from opioid addiction, and you’ll also be exposed to a wider variety of input during counseling sessions.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, informally labeled talk therapy, enables you to work with a therapist to identify what triggers you to use opioids. Additionally, you will create and implement healthier coping strategies to enable you to navigate your recovery with less chance of relapsing. CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is most commonly applied to substance use disorders like opioid addiction.
  • Holistic therapies: Many opioid treatment centers offer access to holistic therapies to supplement the evidence-based treatment provided. From mindfulness meditation and yoga to experiential adventure therapy and music therapy, services will vary from rehab to rehab.
  • Family therapy: Most decent opioid addiction treatment centers provide some form of family therapy. A third-party mediator can help you begin unraveling the damage to relationships caused by your opioid addiction.
  • Aftercare and relapse prevention: Regardless of the type of treatment program you engage with for opioid use disorder, it is vital to complete your program with appropriate aftercare in place. This sometimes means stepping down to a less intensive form of treatment on ASAM’s continuum of care – from an IOP to an OP, for instance. Alternatively, aftercare may involve attending peer-support like NA (Narcotics Anonymous). Addiction is a relapsing condition, so the proper relapse prevention plan will maximize your chances of staying sober throughout your ongoing recovery from opioid addiction.

Opioid Overdose Treatment

While it is possible to overdose on opioids – sometimes with lethal effects – this risk is substantially increased if you combine opioids with other CNS depressants like benzos or alcohol. 

Look out for the following signs of opioid overdose: 

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Clammy skin
  • Shallow breathing
  • Pinprick pupils
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Unconsciousness
  • Inability to wake up

Opioids impact the area of the brain that governs breathing rate. When you take a high dose of opioids, this can cause breathing to slow dramatically, sometimes even to the fatal point of stopping completely. 

Opioid overdose can occur for many reasons, including but not limited to: 

  • Following recreational opioid abuse.
  • Accidentally taking an extra dose of prescription opioids.
  • Deliberately taking an extra dose of prescription opioids.
  • Combining opioids with other medications, alcohol, or illicit drugs.
  • Using opioids prescribed for someone else.
  • During medication-assisted treatment if the controlled substances are abused.

If you feel that you or a loved one are experiencing opioid overdose, take the following steps without delay: 

  1. Immediately call 911.
  2. Administer naloxone if possible. Naloxone is a medication that can rapidly reverse the effects of opioid overdose. The medication is available as an injectable or a nasal spray.
  3. Ensure the person remains awake and breathing if possible.
  4. Try to position the person on their side. This will minimize the chance of them choking.
  5. Remain with the person experiencing opioid overdose until the emergency services arrive.

Effectiveness of Opioid Treatment

Opioids have been regarded as among the most effective painkilling drugs for centuries. 

Using opioids to manage chronic pain and acute severe pain related to medical illness represents the standard of care in most countries worldwide. 

What remains controversial, on the other hand, is the long-term use of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain not related to cancer. 

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is not a cure for addiction, but rather a useful tool for initiating and maintaining recovery. 

These medications work in one of two ways: 

  1. Some medications used for the treatment of opioid use disorder bind to the brain’s natural opioid receptors, activating these receptors, although not as intensely as they are activated by opioids.
  2. Other FDA-approved opioid treatment medications block the opioid receptors in the brain, blocking the rewarding effects.

MAT is always most effective when combined with counseling and behavioral therapies like CBT or DBT. Integrated treatment generally improves outcomes. 

The three medications used for the MAT of opioid use disorder are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These programs are evidence-based. Research indicates that MAT delivered in combination with supplementary therapies can successfully treat opioid use disorder, while improving treatment retention, and reducing the chance of relapse.

Medication-assisted treatment is also proven effective for reducing the need for inpatient detoxification in those addicted to both prescription opioids and heroin. 

These are the research-based benefits of MAT:

  • Improving survival rates
  • Increasing treatment retention rates
  • Reducing the risk of transmission of HIV/AIDS and hepatitis
  • Minimizing the use of illegal opiates
  • Boosting chances of finding and maintaining employment
  • Reducing criminal activity among those with opioid use disorder

Opioid Addiction Medications

When you use opioids long-term, you will feel sick without the drug in your system, triggering uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms and powerful cravings for opioids. 

There are three types of medication used to treat opioid use disorder: 

  • Opioid antagonists: These medications block the opioid receptors in your brain while also negating the rewarding effects of opioids
  • Opioid agonists: These medications fully activate your brain’s opioid receptors.
  • Partial opioid agonists These medications mildly activate your brain’s opioid receptors.

The most common medications used for the treatment of opioid addiction are as follows: 

  • Methadone
  • Naltrexone
  • Buprenorphine

Methadone

Methadone is a very slow-acting opioid agonist used to treat heroin addiction for decades. 

This medication is a prescription opioid with a strong potential for abuse or misuse. Dependence can also form with sustained use of methadone. 

Methadone is classified as  a slow-acting opioid agonist. Doctors have used the medication to treat heroin addiction for the past fifty years. 

As a prescription opioid, methadone has the potential for misuse and abuse. It can also lead to dependence forming. 

When methadone is used in MAT, it replaces the opioid you were abusing without delivering a euphoric high. This medication must be obtained from a certified treatment program and it is administered in a controlled setting. 

Naltrexone

Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist that disrupts the mechanism of action of opioids. 

Neither sedative nor addictive, naltrexone is typically administered in an addiction treatment center or a clinic. 

Vivitrol is an injectable form of naltrexone approved by the FDA for the treatment of opioid use disorder.

Buprenorphine

Buprenorphine helps to reduce the cravings associated with opioid withdrawal. This is achieved without delivering the euphoric effects of opioids. As a weak partial opioid agonist, buprenorphine can still impart rewarding effects, but not to the same extent as full agonists like methadone or illicit heroin. 

It is essential to abstain from taking opioids for 12 to 24 hours before first taking buprenorphine. Starting a course of buprenorphine with opioids in your system could precipitate acute withdrawal. 

Buprenorphine is considered safe for ongoing use.

Finding an Opioid Rehab Program

If you have been searching online for “opioid treatment near me”, this search should generate a selection of suitable treatment programs. 

It is also worth asking your doctor, friends, and family to recommend any opioid rehab centers in your area. 

Alternatively, you could shortcut the process and head to our opioid addiction treatment center at The District Recovery Center.

The District Recovery Center’s Opioid Rehab

Here at The District Recovery Center, we specialize in the outpatient treatment of opioid use disorder. 

If you choose to engage with one of our gender-specific rehab programs, you can focus on your detox and recovery from opioid addiction without any distractions. You can also achieve this without needing to pack your bags and head to rehab. 

Choose from the following forms of outpatient treatment: 

  • OP (outpatient program)
  • IOP (intensive outpatient program)
  • PHP (partial hospitalization program)

Whatever level of support makes the smoothest fit, your treatment team will then personalize a treatment plan including MAT, psychotherapy, and counseling to help you conquer opioid addiction once and for all. To put opioids behind you, reach out to The District today at 949.570.7600.