What You Need to Know About Opiate Addiction Treatment

What You Need to Know About Opiate Addiction Treatment

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Opiate addiction has become a public health problem of epidemic proportions. However, it can be treated effectively with the right approaches. Here is what you need to know about opiate addiction treatment.

Key Elements of Treatment

The first things that anyone needs to know in understanding opiate addiction treatment are the basic elements that go into effective care. The key elements of opiate addiction treatment include:

  • Recognizing the addiction as a treatable disease
  • Knowing that no single treatment is right for every person or situation
  • Understanding and addressing all of a patient’s needs and medical problems
  • Providing treatment for an adequate amount of time
  • Reviewing and adapting treatments to meet changing needs
  • Providing resources or referrals for long-term aftercare

These key elements help to ensure that a treatment facility provides the best care possible for a person seeking to overcome an addiction to opiates, through different treatment methods.

Behavioral Therapies and Counseling

The most commonly used treatment for any addiction is behavioral therapy and counseling. There are several different approaches that may be used. Some of the most common are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy – This approach helps patients understand the thoughts and behaviors that lead to drug use and change them.
  • Individual counseling – This approach helps patients understand their addiction and its consequences.
  • 12-step facilitation therapy – In this therapy, patients are encouraged to join a mutual support group and are helped through the initial stages.
  • Group and family counseling – This method helps addicts understand how their addiction affects others, especially loved ones.

These are just a few of the most common therapy and counseling approaches used in treating an addiction to opiates, but many others exist.


In addition to behavioral therapies and counseling, there are medications available to help in the treatment and recovery process for those addicted to opiates. These are:

  • Methadone – reduces cravings and withdrawal symptoms
  • Buprenorphine – works like methadone but is safer and longer lasting
  • Naloxone – reverses the effects of opiates, particularly in an overdose
  • Naltrexone – blocks the effects of opiates, deterring people from using them
  • Suboxone – combines buprenorphine and naloxone to reduce cravings without risk of overdose

These medications are very beneficial in the treatment of opiate addiction, but are not effective treatments unless they are combined with behavioral therapies and counseling.

What to Avoid

Not all treatment centers for opiate addiction are created equal. There are some big red flags to watch out for. These include promises of a cure, short treatment durations, and detox only treatment.

There is not currently a cure for opiate addiction, though it can be treated. Experts agree that treatment should last as long as it is necessary, but at least three months. Detoxification is just the first step in the treatment process and only completing this step will likely result in a dangerous relapse.

Treatment centers that value the key elements, offer behavioral therapies and medications, and do not offer unrealistic expectations are often the most successful. Look for these facilities when searching for help for you or a loved one.


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