Opiate addiction treatment

While the most well-known opiates are heroin and Oxycontin, opiates include a wide range of drugs derived from the opium poppy. The plant is used to make morphine and codeine as well as other drugs. Opiates are also created synthetically.

Addiction or dependence can result innocently through long-term use, or overuse, of prescription opiate painkillers following injury or trauma, as well as through deliberate use. In large quantities, opiates provide endorphins, or feel-good hormones, in far greater amounts than the body can produce them on its own. Sadly, exposure to unnaturally large amounts of endorphins can lessen the body’s ability to produce its own endorphins, leading to the need for increasing amounts.

Detox is generally regarded as extremely hard both emotionally and physically. Physical withdrawal symptoms including muscle and bone pain, difficulty breathing, insomnia, palpitations, diarrhea and vomiting. The quicker acting the opiate is, the sooner withdrawal symptoms set in, the more intense they are, but the shorter they last. Fast-acting heroin is the worst.

Although detoxing from opiate addiction is not usually life-threatening unless other medical conditions exist, it is best not to try to go it alone. Rather do it under supervision.


The choice of program should be made with the help of your medical doctor, who will take into account your personal needs.

The process of freeing yourself from opiate dependence or addiction starts with detox and progresses with learning how to adjust to a world without these drugs. All programs include therapy aimed at helping you identify and overcome the issues and triggers that fueled your drug abuse, while assisting you to find more effective coping methods. Support groups and family counselling also play a big role.

In some instances, especially with heroin addiction, replacement medication is used for maintenance in order to reduce the high incidence of relapse.

Treatment options

Outpatient treatment: You live at home during the whole process. Even the detox can be conducted through some outpatient centers, with medical care provided for the detox itself and for check-ups afterwards.

You are in a familiar environment with friends and family for support. You can continue going to work and there is also no need to explain lengthy absences from home. Visits to the outpatient center involve about 10 to 12 hours a week over a period of several months.

The disadvantage is that you remain in the same place you were in as a user, and the temptations to relapse could be very strong. If the environment or people in it contributed to your drug use, or you are constantly faced with triggers that make you want to use again, you may be unable to resist relapsing.

Inpatient or residential treatment takes you out of your known environment, with its distractions and triggers, and lets you focus entirely on your recovery and rehabilitation. It provides you with a complete break from your previous life and lifestyle.

Although some people feel uncomfortable about what others might think of their entering a drug rehab, there is no need for concern. Rehabilitation centers protect patients’ anonymity.

Many inpatient facilities can take you through the detox process as well as the rehabilitation. You stay on the premises for the full program, which can run for between one and three months and sometimes longer. Care and guidance is immediately available, and you are surrounded by people who know what you are going through.

In addition to providing the therapies included in all drug addiction treatment programs, many centres offer added features like exercise and activities as well art and craft programs. Even skills training is sometimes available.

Moving forward

The process should not be rushed. Even an extended period at a residential treatment center might not be enough to ensure abstinence in the long term. It may be a good idea to consider the advantages of a sober living community, where you can ease your way back into life outside the rehabilitation center.

It is also possible continue with outpatient treatment, receiving therapy and counselling for a while longer, while adapting to living at home. Support groups can also provide continued assistance.

The costs involved

The Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare, has meant that addiction treatment can no longer be viewed as a pre-existing condition in terms of medical insurance and that coverage for it must be just as complete for it as it is for any other medical procedure.  This means that most medical insurance plans will pay at least part, if not all, of the costs involved, depending on what treatment you choose and where you choose to undergo it.

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