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Opiate addiction has been increasingly on the rise due to people abusing prescription pain medications. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) there are between 24.6 million and 36 million people abusing opiate prescription drugs across the globe! And 2.1 million people in the United States that are suffering from addiction related to opiate based prescription drugs. On the other hand, there are a number of individuals who have become addicted through recreational use. Whatever the route that someone became addicted, the reality is that opiate prescription drugs are more easily accessible and destroying many lives.

Becoming chemically dependent on opiate drugs takes very little time. It is estimated that a person can become dependent on heroin or prescription painkillers in as little as two weeks.  Addiction sets in quickly as the body becomes dependent on the chemicals the drug produces in the brain and struggles to function normally without the drug, inducing withdrawal symptoms.   Opiates spark the dopamine pathways of the brain, the neurotransmitter that regulates the brain’s reward and pleasure responses.

There are warning signs that someone may be abusing opiates.  As dependence to the drug deepens, serious long-term symptoms emerge. Symptoms of opiate dependence can possibly include:

  • Slowed breathing
  • Constricted pupils
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Nodding off or losing consciousness
  • Euphoria
  • Social withdrawal
  • Financial problems
  • Doctor shopping
  • Mood swings
  • Compromised immune system
  • Localized abscesses or systemic infection due to injection of drugs
  • Bowel perforation
  • Significant respiratory distress


If you are looking for help for yourself or for a loved one, the first step will be seeking detox. Detox from opiates can be difficult, but with a team of treatment professionals leading the way, the withdrawal symptoms and psychological effects can be minimized significantly.  Detox can be accomplished and recovery and healing of the brain’s chemical can begin.

Receiving detox through an inpatient or outpatient rehab will depend on your specific situation. Often times, people struggling with opiate addiction with enter an inpatient detox program to help overcome the first hurdle of the recovery process. Every individual has a unique situation and will need to review their needs with one of our Treatment Specialists.



Outpatient programs are available for mild or emerging opiate addiction treatment, and are generally not recommended for individuals with a long history of opiate dependence. An outpatient program provides a step-down approach, starting with the highest level of intensity called day treatment or partial hospitalization programming. Once recovery benchmarks are achieved, the individual steps down to an intensive outpatient program (IOP), which involves 9 hours of rehab programming weekly.


Inpatient addiction treatment is a very structured environment where addicts progress through the detox and withdrawal phase before transitioning into active treatment. Inpatient programs offer a broad range of therapeutic activities daily, and are typically 30, 60, or 90 days in length, or longer. Recovery success is higher with longer inpatient rehab stays. Matching the unique features of the opiate addiction to the best treatment protocol will help determine the best length of stay.


It is not uncommon for an opiate addiction to co-occur with a mental health disorder.  Anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder are often present alongside the opioid addiction. It is important that both the addiction and the mental health disorder are treated to reach a successful treatment outcome. Inpatient addiction programs that specialize in dual diagnosis services are a good option for those with a co-occurring mental health condition, as they will have psychiatric services onsite.


Maintaining abstinence post-rehab is an ongoing challenge. Opiate addiction treatment programs now rely on the support of medications, such as methadone, Suboxone, naltrexone, and buprenorphine, in an ongoing effort to help individuals sustain recovery and improve quality of life. These drugs help the brain to gradually adapt to the absence of the abused opiate while blocking the effects of opiates and reducing drug cravings.

New pharmaceutical interventions continue to enter the addiction recovery landscape. Recently, some new medications have been introduced, such as Zubsolv, which combines buprenorphine and naloxone.  Another new drug, Probuphine, is buprenorphine in an implant form and delivers a constant low-dose of the drug for a six-month period. Another drug, lofexidine hydrochloride, is the first non-narcotic drug in the MAT family that suppresses the release of adrenaline, helping to reduce withdrawal symptoms during detox.


The elements for opiate addiction treatment are similar between outpatient and inpatient programs. The main difference is the level of intensity and structure of the rehab program. Generally, opioid dependence is treated through the following interventions:

  • Psychotherapy. Uses evidence-based therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, motivation enhancement, and contingency management to help individuals may fundamental changes in disordered thought and behavior patterns.
  • Group therapy. A clinician leads peer-based small groups and facilitates conversations pertaining to the recovery process. Participants establish a camaraderie and cultivate mutual support as a result of these small groups.
  • Medication assisted therapy. MAT may be introduced during the latter phase of the detox process. MAT is typically prescribed for a minimum of one year in combination with outpatient services and tight monitoring.
  • Psychosocial education. Many times there are underlying issues present that can sabotage recovery. Classes help equip individuals with new recovery skills that aid their interpersonal relationships, such as better communication skills, conflict resolution techniques, and emotion regulation.
  • Holistic therapies. Part of the rehabilitation process involves learning how to regulate stress and emotions. Holistic activities are introduced in rehab to assist with stress related to the treatment process. These methods can become important coping tools post-rehab. Holistic activities might include yoga, meditation, massage, acupuncture, and aromatherapy.
  • 12-step or similar programming. The 12-step or non 12-step recovery program will be introduced during treatment, which the intention that the recovery meetings become a central focus of aftercare following rehab.


A number of factors can influence opiate addiction treatment success rates. Adherence to aftercare, medication management, and making essential lifestyle changes can positively impact the recovery outcome. These factors include:

  • Remaining active in a recovery community like A.A., N.A., or a non 12-step program. Engaging others in recovery increases the chance of success by building the important social support and accountability
  • Continuing to participate in outpatient individual psychotherapy sessions, especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and group therapy sessions
  • Being treated for any co-occurring mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder
  • Currently employed or enrolled in an academic program
  • Has a solid emotional support network of family and friends
  • Participating in relaxation techniques and holistic therapies
  • Getting regular exercise, quality sleep, and eating a nutritious diet

Attention to the above actions can significantly increase the rate of recovery success, and the absence of these items can negatively impact success. Individuals benefit from actively cultivating a positive recovery result through active continuing care efforts.


Call 877-408-0734 to connect with a treatment center that provide a free confidential assessment to review the drug and alcohol use history, medical conditions, psych-social, and psychiatric conditions. You will receive support and guidance for you or your loved one, as our specialists find you the best possible opiate rehab options based on your individualized assessment.

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For individuals looking for treatment options for mental health and addiction conditions, offers a confidential helpline that provides assistance. Treatment Specialists are standing by to answer your questions and provide treatment recommendations based on your unique needs.

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