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Los Angeles IOP Drug Rehab for Addiction and Mental Health Disorders

Opioid Treatment Programs for Overcoming Addiction

By Linda Whiteside

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Table of Contents

Opioid Treatment Programs

If you’ve found yourself struggling with opioid addiction, you know it can feel like there aren’t many options for recovery. In the media and popular culture, we often see negative and sensationalized views of people with opioid addictions. There is a lot of stigma and judgment attached to these struggles, which only makes things more difficult for people who are dealing with the effects of opioid addiction. We understand that getting help for this situation can seem impossible for someone in your position. You might be thinking: Where do I even begin? What treatment options are available to me? What is the best place to get help? These are all excellent questions that we hope to answer here.

What Are Opioids?

An opioid is a type of drug that acts on the nervous system and produces a sense of pleasure or euphoria; they include heroin, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone, and many other prescription drugs. These drugs can produce feelings of pleasure and relaxation, but after continuous use for extended periods of time, users tend to develop a tolerance for the drug. In response to not being able to feel as much pleasure from an opioid as before, users begin taking more of it more frequently just to feel “normal” again. This is when an opioid addiction begins.

Most Common Types of Opioids

Heroin is easily the most infamous opioid. It is an illegal drug that comes from the seed pod of the poppy plant, but opioids are also prescribed legally as a pain reliever. Heroin is one of the most addictive drugs on the planet, but it is notable that most people turn to heroin only after becoming addicted to legal opioid painkillers. Oxycodone and hydrocodone are the two most common prescription opioids. Heroin is derived from the same plant that these drugs come from, so they are just as addictive. It’s important to note that while these drugs are commonly used as pain relievers, they can also be used as recreational drugs.

Prescription Opioids and Fentanyl

Prescription opioids are powerful painkillers and are commonly prescribed after surgery, after an injury, or for chronic pain, including back pain and fibromyalgia. Many people who suffer from chronic pain do not realize that they can become addicted to these drugs, so they are prescribed opioids like OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet over the long-term.

A lot of people who are prescribed opioids for pain end up becoming addicted to them. This is partially because these drugs are highly addictive and partially because people tend to misuse them.

Fentanyl is a highly addictive synthetic opioid that is 50 times more potent than heroin. It’s commonly used to treat severe pain after surgery and for people who suffer from chronic pain, but it often comes into the country illegally from China and Mexico and is sold as heroin. As a result, the United States is currently experiencing a surge in overdose death rates as fentanyl continues to worsen the opioid epidemic.

Short-Term Dangers of Opioid Abuse

The short-term dangers of opioid abuse are often the same as the short-term dangers of use and abuse of any substance. These include impaired judgment, increased risk of accidents, risk of contracting infectious diseases like hepatitis and HIV/AIDS, and disruptions in your daily life. If you believe that someone you know is abusing opioids, there are a few signs to keep an eye out for. These include mood changes, changes in sleeping habits, changes in eating habits, a change in weight, drug paraphernalia like needles or empty pill bottles, frequent nosebleeds, unexplained scratch marks, and signs of cravings, like being extremely restless or irritable.

Long-Term Dangers of Opioid Abuse

The long-term dangers of opioid abuse are more severe and can have lasting effects on your health and well-being. They include liver and kidney damage, respiratory issues, cardiac problems, decreased cognitive function, and risk of overdose. Over the long term, drug abuse can cause people to prioritize their latest “fix” above anything else, even family members, their financial stability, and their careers.

What is Opioid Use Disorder?

Opioid Use Disorder, or OUD, is defined as a problematic pattern of opioid use that causes significant impairment or distress in a person’s life. Someone with OUD might feel intense cravings to use the drug, experience withdrawal symptoms if they don’t get their next “fix,” and neglect responsibilities in their life because of their drug use.

In many cases, opioid abuse can lead to opioid use disorder, but they are not the same thing. Someone who abuses opioids might not have opioid use disorder, and someone with OUD might currently abuse opioids (f they are recovering using rehabilitative services in a treatment center, for instance).

How to Recognize and Treat Opioid Addiction

Addiction to opioids can be very difficult to recognize and treat, but it is possible. The first step in treating your addiction is recognizing that you have a problem and deciding to get help. To do this, you should seek out treatment options in your area and talk to medical professionals. They can help you decide what treatment plan will work best for your needs.

Signs and Symptoms of Opioid Addiction

A person with a substance use disorder will exhibit certain signs and symptoms that indicate they may be abusing opioids. These include, but are not limited to, changes in sleeping and eating habits, changes in social activities, inability to keep up with work or school, neglecting important responsibilities, and having a change in mood or personality. Other signs of opioid addiction include:

  • Easy bruising, track marks, or a change in the number and location of scars
  • Dry lips and tongue
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Weight loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Worsening of depression
  • Increased anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach cramps

Types of Opioid Addiction Treatment Programs

There are various types of opioid addiction treatment programs that can help someone recover from an opioid addiction. These include inpatient treatment, outpatient treatment, and medication-assisted treatment.

Inpatient treatment is when a person stays for a certain period of time at a facility usually with 24-hour medical supervision. This might be due to a person having a severe addiction and needing medical supervision for detox or a safety concern for the person themselves or others.

Outpatient treatment is when a person comes to an opioid treatment program for a certain number of hours per week and goes back home to live the rest of their life. During outpatient sessions, patients benefit from behavioral therapy as well as group counseling to facilitate the recovery process.

Medication-assisted treatment is when a person takes certain medications to help with the withdrawal process.

With all types of treatment, the person will work with a team of doctors, psychologists, counselors, and others to create an individualized treatment plan that meets their needs and helps them recover.

What Happens at an Opioid Rehab?

The first step in any opioid addiction treatment program is detox. This is a process that can take anywhere between several days to several weeks where the person stops using the opioid so their body can begin to detox.

During detox, people can experience a wide range of side effects, including but not limited to insomnia, nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea, tremors, and sweating. Some of these symptoms are very uncomfortable, and others can be potentially fatal if not monitored by medical professionals.

While opioids are in the system, a person can overdose if they take too much of a certain substance or take a certain substance in combination with an opioid. Supervised detox helps with the risk of this happening, and professionals at a treatment center can smooth out the process by providing patient care as well as FDA-approved medications that reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Counseling and Therapy in an Opioid Treatment Program

A counselor is a type of therapist who helps with mental health issues, including opioid addiction. The first step of any opioid addiction treatment program is detox; after that, a person begins counseling and therapy sessions.

Counseling and therapy sessions may happen one-on-one or in a group setting. The counselor or therapist helps the person go over their substance use history, identify the root causes of their addiction, overcome mental illnesses, learn self-help skills, and more. Counseling and therapy can be especially helpful for people who have a co-occurring disorder, which is when a person suffers from both a mental illness and a substance use disorder. Examples include anxiety disorder and alcohol addiction, or depression and opioid addiction.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction treatment programs also offer medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which is when a person takes certain medications to help with the withdrawal process. Some medications that doctors may prescribe include methadone and buprenorphine. Methadone and buprenorphine are two opioid substitutes that help ease the symptoms of withdrawal. They also help to reduce cravings, keeping people from feeling the strong urge to go back to opioid use.

While these medications are helpful, they are still opioids, and people will have to taper off of them slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Naloxone is another opioid-overdose reversal drug that can be prescribed as a take-home prescription for loved ones to use when someone is going through withdrawal.

12-Step Programs for Opioid Addiction

Many opioid addiction treatment programs use a combination of therapies and interventions. Some programs also incorporate 12-step programs, which are self-help groups that were initially designed for people dealing with alcohol addiction. While some people don’t feel comfortable in a 12-step program, others find it beneficial.

There are many different types of 12-step programs, including for narcotics and other substances. 12-step programs are free, anonymous, and have little to no barrier to entry. If you or someone you love is struggling with an opioid addiction, help is available. You can get the help you need by choosing the right opioid addiction treatment program for your situation.

How to Deal with Opioid Withdrawal?

When someone stops taking opioids, they may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, and abdominal cramping. These symptoms can be so severe that they prevent the person from stopping the drug even when they realize that the drug is causing them harm.

Buprenorphine and methadone are two drugs that can be used to help a person through the process of getting off opioids safely. Some people use these drugs during the withdrawal process to ease cravings and reduce severe symptoms. Many people are afraid of withdrawal, but if you are going to detox, withdrawal is something that you must go through.

How Long is Opioid Rehab?

The length of an opioid rehab program varies from person to person, but with the proper support and care, most people can expect to stay in treatment for about 90 days. This is because it takes about that amount of time for the brain and body to completely detox from opioids and for new neural connections (or pathways) to form and become stronger to replace old, destructive ones.

When people begin using opioids, their brains are in a state of high alert, causing them to crave even more of the drug. Over a few weeks, however, their brains will begin to return to normal, making it much easier for people to control their urges and cravings during this time. Ultimately, however, opioid use disorder treatment and recovery is a lifetime process. Even after formally finishing opioid treatment programs, most people stay sober by continuing to develop their skills and coping tools, building a strong social support group, and helping others who are also suffering from substance abuse problems.

Paying for Opioid Treatment

Some people have health insurance that covers some or all of their opioid rehab treatment, but others may have to foot the bill themselves. Insurance companies vary widely when it comes to paying for opioid rehab. If you don’t have health insurance, or if your company doesn’t offer coverage for opioid rehab, there are still a few options you can explore. Some medical facilities offer financial aid and payment plans, and some cities offer low-cost options. You can also ask your doctor for referrals to low-cost or free opioid rehab facilities.

Can Opioid Addiction Be Cured?

Drug addiction is a chronic disease that can be managed with treatment, just like other chronic diseases such as diabetes or asthma. Some people are able to stop taking drugs on their own, but most people need some type of treatment program to help them recover.

There are many different types of treatment programs, and you should look into them as soon as possible. If you or someone you love has an addiction, don’t wait to get help. Treatment works, but you need to get started as soon as possible.

What happens in a treatment program depends on the individual and the type of program they enter. Some programs involve a combination of counseling and behavioral therapy, while others focus on medical care and detox. You can expect to be in treatment for at least several weeks and to attend lectures, group therapy sessions, and other types of learning opportunities.

Daily Life at Opioid Rehab

During treatment, you will follow a daily schedule that typically includes both group and individual therapy. You will meet with your counselors regularly to discuss your progress and determine the best course of treatment, and you will have an assigned addiction coach who will help you stay accountable and on track.

A typical day at an inpatient opioid rehab center will include eating breakfast together, group therapy, in which you discuss topics such as your addiction, relapse prevention, emotions, and family relationships. You will also attend individual therapy sessions to help you work through personal issues and learn self-help skills.

Some people in opioid rehab have a job, but most have a daily schedule during which they attend treatment, participate in group therapy and support groups such as AA, and do homework. The work often includes reading and discussing literature on addiction, identifying triggers, and learning strategies for coping without drugs.

What Happens if I Relapse at Opioid Rehab?

here is no shame in relapsing. Relapse is a part of recovery, and it is a process that most people go through when trying to quit an addiction. Many people who enter treatment for opioid addiction will relapse at some point. If you relapse, that doesn’t mean that you need to give up. Instead, it’s an opportunity to learn more about yourself and the addiction, and to use the experience to help you during your next attempt.

If you or someone you love is addicted to opioids, don’t wait to get help. Treatment works, but you need to get started as soon as possible. With the right support, treatment, and care, you can end your opioid addiction and regain control of your life.

Opioid Treatment Programs Can Save Your Life

he opioid epidemic has been making headlines for years, and there are no signs that it’s slowing down. Opioid use disorder is a very real problem, and it has the potential to affect anyone. If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, it is important to seek help.

There are many different opioid addiction treatment programs available, and the right one for you or your loved one will depend on many different factors, including the severity of the addiction and whether the person is willing to participate in treatment. To find the right treatment program for you or your loved one, you should do your research and talk to other people who have been through treatment. Only you can decide to get help and change your life for the better. With the right treatment plan, you can break the cycle of addiction and regain control over your life.

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Author
Written By: Linda Whiteside
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Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson
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Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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