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Treatment Programs for Opioid abuse

Know About Treatment Programs for Opioid abuse

Treatment Programs for Opioid abuse

Opioids are narcotic drugs used for the treatment of persistent and chronic pain, backaches, pains associated with cancer after surgery and accidents. But the continued use of opioids often create a dependence in the body system; that is, the brain tells the body that it can no longer survive or deal with pain without the drug. When this happens, discontinuing usage of the drug would lead to withdrawal symptoms, and then one would have to take the drug once again. This time, an even greater dose of opioids would be required to calm the body down. When these entire things take place, the individual has grown opioid dependence — that is, has become addicted to the drug.

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Warning signs of opioid addiction

Benzodiazepine abuse in america | Addiction Treatment Helper

Some of the following signs would be observed when a person is gradually becoming addicted to opioid:

  • Craving for the drug
  • Needing more dosage for the pain to be suppressed, or just to feel happy
  • Spending more alone time than with family or friends
  • Shifting moods easily
  • The inclination to sudden outbursts of emotion and agitation
  • Talking rapidly without making much sense
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Losing interest in activities
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Unusual sleepiness or sleeplessness
  • Getting into frequent trouble with the police.

Symptoms of opioid overdose

When a person indulges in high quantities of opioid intake, then the following are likely to be experienced:


  • The individual goes limp
  • Grows pale face and skin
  • Their fingernails and lips get darker
  • Nausea and intense vomiting, or making weird gurgling sounds
  • Inability to speak
  • Heavy sleeping without waking, even when tapped
  • Heavy snoring
  • Slow breathing that may eventually stop altogether.

Treatment Programs for Opioid abuse

How long do opioids stay in the body?

Different types of opioids stay in the body for different time intervals. Also, these drugs stay in different parts of the body for different durations. For example, opioids can be detected in the saliva for a maximum of 36 hours, stay in the urine for up to 3 days, and the hair for up to 90 days.

How long opioids stay in the body is also dependent on the type of opioid in question. Oxycodon, Vicodin and other drugs containing hydrocodone can stay in the body system for up to three days. OxyContin, an extended-release version of oxycodone, can stay in the body for 8-12 hours.  Heroin stays for only some minutes although traces of it can be detected for up to 3 days. Morphine can be detected for 2-3 days.

Treatment Programs for Opioid abuse

Withdrawal symptoms of opioid

A person whose system has grown dependence for opioids would suffer some symptoms when they try to stay without the drug for some time. These symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Drug cravings
  • Anxiety/irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Tremors (shaking)
  • Feeling cold.


Opioid withdrawal has been said to be fatally dangerous. It can last from 3 to 10 days, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). Being that dangerous, it is not recommended stopping using the drug without medical supervision. Trying to quit has even led to increased cravings for the drug to calm the withdrawal effects. The best and safest way to stop opioid use is by having medication to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms of opioid. Medications used typically include methadone and buprenorphine. Although craving for the drug does not reduce, another medication known as clonidine may also be included in the treatment to help suppress anxiety, agitation, muscle aches, sweating, runny nose and cramping. Other medications can also be used for alleviating diarrhea, nausea and sleeplessness.

Treatment programs for opioids addiction

Because of the withdrawal symptoms of opioids, the best treatment for opioid addiction is by medication-assisted therapy. This program includes the use of medicines, counselling and therapy. Residential and hospital-based treatment is also another opioid treatment option.

1. Medication-assisted therapy (MAT)

a) Medicines used for opioid addiction treatment

The medicine used for treating opioid misuse and addiction is methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.

Methadone and buprenorphine decrease the withdrawal symptoms and cravings by restoring balance to the parts of the brain affected by the opioid. This helps the brain to heal as the patient recovers from the addiction.

Naloxone may also be combined with buprenorphine. Naloxone is used basically to treat opioid overdose, and so taking naloxone alongside buprenorphine helps to prevent misuse of the latter.

On the other hand, naltrexone removes the feeling of highness caused by opioids, and this helps to avoid a relapse when you get off opioids.

Note that you have to be off opioids for at least seven days before taking naltrexone. If not, there could be severe withdrawal symptoms.

1. Medication-assisted therapy (MAT)


Support Groups for addiction Treatment

Getting counseling and psychological support can help you learn a healthy lifestyle, change your attitude towards opioids, and offer you support in sticking with your medication and avoiding relapse.

The counseling can take the form of:

  • Individual counseling–in which you meet privately with your counselor, and there are individual set goals to meet, discussing personal issues that may have led to the drug abuse.
  • Family counseling–which involves having meeting sessions with your family and loved ones, where you find support through love and care.
  • Group counseling–in which you get to meet people like you. It helps you know you’re not alone in your struggle, and through mutual support, obtain help to deal with the situation.

1. Medication-assisted therapy (MAT)

c) Therapy

Therapies are an important and highly effective way to treat opioid addiction as well as all other forms of addictions. They are combined with medications to give medical-assisted therapy. Therapies include but are not limited to:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy–this therapy is aimed at figuring out the underlying thoughts and feelings that led to the use of the drug. It is aimed at addressing and countering these thoughts.
  • Dialectical-behavioral therapy–This therapy is aimed at helping addicts build on their self-esteem and stress-management to help avoid the self-deprecating thoughts that lead to drug abuse.
  • Motivational Interviewing–in which patients are helped to change their negative thoughts and behaviors associated with their addiction while allowing them to make their own positive decisions for their life and future.
  • Contingency management–where the addicts are rewarded for their positive behaviors and abstinence from the drug.

2. Detoxification


This is another method of treating opioid addiction. It is a medical-based approach where your system is cleansed of every trace of the drug, and you are offered medications to help suppress the withdrawal symptoms.

3. 12-Step programs

12-Step programs

As with alcohol addiction, opioid addicts can also find help and treatment by joining support groups which engage in the 12-Steps by Alcoholics Anonymous, for the purpose of helping the members stay away from the substance.

4. Hospital-based treatment for opioid addiction

Hospital-based treatment for opioid addiction

Opioid treatment can also be carried out by confining the patient in an inpatient rehab where they’re detoxed and treated until full recovery, or in an outpatient rehab program where they obtain scheduled treatment while still living their normal lives. 

All these treatment programs for opioid addiction and abuse are well-structured to ensure that the patient recovers fully, and all-round well-being is achieved. However, recovery starts with the individual. If you have been involved in the use of opioid and are observing any of the symptoms, endeavor to seek help by notifying a loved one or a medical professional.


National Statistics


of americans

have benzos in their medicine cabinets

5.2 Million


have abused benzodiazepines


of people

Who abused benzos became addicted.

Treatment Programs For Opioid Abuse​


Addiction Center (n.d). What Are My Addiction Treatment Options? Retrieved February 25, 2020, from https://www.addictioncenter.com/treatment/

MedlinePlus: Opioid Misuse and Addiction Treatment. Retrieved February 27, 2020, from https://medlineplus.gov/opioidmisuseandaddictiontreatment.html

DrugRehab.Com: How Long Do Opiates & Opioids Stay in Your System? Retrieved February 27, 2020, from https://www.drugrehab.com/how-long-do-opioids-stay-in-your-system/

AddictionCentre: 12-Step Programs. Retrieved February 27, 2020 https://www.staging.addictioncenter.com/treatment/12-step-programs/

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