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Information on Opioid Treatment and Detox

Last updated on: Monday, 4 December 2023
  • What You'll Learn

When suffering from opioid addiction, it is essential to find quality opioid rehabs that provide expert care. Most opioid addiction is handled through a medical detox and inpatient treatment. When looking for these services, you can search by state below and find a rehabilitation program that fits your needs.

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Opioid Rehab

Opioid treatment programs provide individuals with the tools and support they need to achieve and maintain sobriety. Most importantly, this involves medical detox and withdrawal management. Successful therapy cannot be performed unless a person has been completely detoxed from opioids. Aftercare support is also critical for continuing sobriety. 

Treating opioid addiction almost always requires medical detox and residential drug rehab. Medical detox provides withdrawal management for severe withdrawal symptoms. A residential offers the best therapy options, especially for long-term opioid users.

Outpatient treatment can also be beneficial, but this depends on the severity of the addiction. An addiction assessment helps determine what is the best approach for opioid addiction.

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Ask a Professional

  • What type of drug are opioids?

    Opioids are a broad category of drugs that affect the opioid receptors of the human brain, causing euphoria and pain reduction. Included in this class of drugs are many different substances, illicit and controlled. Some opioids like fentanyl are used as a prescription drug to treat severe pain and are also manufactured illicitly. Opioids are highly addictive and deadly, and their overuse in America has led to a nationwide drug epidemic that continues to grow.

  • What do opioids look like?

    Opioids can vary widely in shape, size, color, and consistency. Many of them exist in pill form. There are also liquid preparations of opioids for oral and IV use, pain patches, etc. Opioids also exist in illicit forms like black tar heroin or fentanyl powder.

  • How long do opioids stay in your system?

    On average, it takes a few days to rid the body of opioids after consumption. Opioids stay in the human body for varying lengths, depending on the type consumed. Some opioids are long-acting and can take weeks to clear the system, like methadone. Others like fentanyl leave the system rapidly and may only be detectable in the urine for a day or two after using them. But most opioids have a duration of action of four to six hours and therefore are metabolized and excreted over 72 hours.

  • Why are opioids so deadly?

    Opioids are so deadly because of their potential to cause an overdose. Opioid overdose is extremely dangerous because opioids depress breathing. Victims die from lack of oxygen almost uniformly. Suffocation is preceded by unconsciousness, so it can be too late if no one is around when they overdose and aren’t discovered within a few minutes. Opioid overdose reversal drugs like Narcan have become crucial in the fight, saving many lives since being approved. But even though Narcan can reverse an opioid overdose, it cannot undo the effects of oxygen depletion.

  • How are opioids used?

    Opioids can be used in various ways, with the most prevalent methods consisting of oral ingestion and intravenous injection. Mainly, prescription opioids are abused by oral consumption, and illicit opioids like heroin by IV use. There can certainly be exceptions and many other ways to consume opioids. However, these are the most common.

  • What is the best treatment for opioid addiction?

    The best treatment for opioid addiction begins with a proper detox. Physically, withdrawal is perhaps the most significant immediate consequence of opioid addiction and what forces most people to remain on opioids.

    The two most common options are medically supervised detox (withdrawal management) to become entirely drug-free or begin medication-assisted treatment before treatment and then become drug-free. Either way, detox is necessary, and medications are used to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. The next steps in treatment include the following:

      • Long-term inpatient drug rehab. The reality of opioid addiction is that most people have a lengthy history of use, whether beginning with dependency or an existing addiction. A more prolonged program is the best option to address underlying issues and provide adequate time for initial sobriety.

      • Aftercare support is critical. The best thing for recovering opioid drug users is peer support meetings or sober living homes. The risk of relapse is dangerous because there is a significant overdose risk when a former opioid user is sober if they attempt to use the same amount of drugs as before they went to rehab.

    Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs) are also common. These programs usually feature the supervised use of medications to lessen cravings, treat withdrawal symptoms, block the effects of other opioids, and lower the risk of overdose death. The programs also often include some type of behavioral therapy.

  • Who is opioid rehabilitation best suited for?

    Opioid rehabilitation is the best option for anyone who has developed a dependence or addiction to opioids. This could be through the legal use of prescription pain medication or the illegal use of pain medication, heroin, or illicit synthetic opioids.

    Opioid treatment and detox are also beneficial for anyone who has attempted to stop but cannot get through the withdrawal symptoms. A medical detox program is the best option.

  • Want to know more?

    The questions from Addicted.org’s “Learn from our Experts” are answered by Michael Leach, CCMA. If you need further clarification on any of the questions above or have any other questions you can contact him directly at mike@addicted.org.

Common Terminology Surrounding Opioids

Term
Definition
Opioid addiction or opioid use disorder (OUD)
occurs when attempts to cut down or control use are unsuccessful or when used, results in social problems and a failure to fulfill obligations at work, school, and home. Opioid addiction often comes after the person has developed opioid tolerance and dependence, making it physically challenging to stop opioid use and increasing withdrawal risk.
Fentanyl
Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain. It is 50 to 100 times more potent than Morphine. However, illegally made Fentanyl is sold through illicit drug markets for its heroin-like effect. It is often mixed with heroin or other drugs, such as cocaine, or pressed into counterfeit prescription pills.
Illicit drugs
These are drugs that are prohibited by law. These drugs can include amphetamine-type stimulants, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, other opioids, and synthetic drugs, such as illicitly manufactured Fentanyl (IMF) and ecstasy (MDMA).
Narcotic Drugs
These originally referred to any substance that dulled the senses and relieved pain. Some people use the term to refer to all illegal drugs, but technically, it refers only to opioids. An opioid is now the preferred term to avoid confusion.
Opioid tolerance
This is an occurrence where the person using opioids begins to experience a reduced response to medication, requiring more opioids to achieve the same effect.
Opioid dependence
A condition where the body adjusts its normal functioning around regular opioid use. Unpleasant physical symptoms occur when medication is stopped.
Methadone
A synthetic opioid prescribed for pain reduction or use in MAT for opioid use disorder (OUD). For MAT, Methadone is used under the direct supervision of a healthcare provider.
Suboxone
A synthetic opioid comprised of two compounds, Buprenorphine and Naloxone. Buprenorphine acts as Morphine or other opioids do, causing pain relief and relief of opioid withdrawal symptoms. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, acts as a blocker. The preparation allows for lower abuse potential and assists in abstaining from illicit drug use while taking it. It is used in MAT and medical detox applications primarily.
Naltrexone
A synthetic opioid, similar to Narcan, which blocks opiate receptors in the nervous system and is used chiefly in heroin addiction treatment.

CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS ARTICLE

Author

AUTHOR

More Information

Marcel Gemme has been helping people struggling with addiction for over 19 years. He first started as an intake counselor for a drug rehabilitation center in 2000. During his 5 years as an intake counselor, he helped many addicts get the treatment they needed. He also dealt with the families and friends of those people; he saw first-hand how much strain addiction puts on a family and how it can tear relationships apart. With drug and alcohol problems constantly on the rise in the United States and Canada, he decided to use the Internet as a way to educate and help many more people in both those countries. This was 15 years ago. Since then, Marcel has built two of the largest websites in the U.S. and Canada which reach and help millions of people each year. He is an author and a leader in the field of drug and alcohol addiction. His main focus is threefold: education, prevention and rehabilitation. To this day, he still strives to be at the forefront of technology in order to help more and more people. He is a Licensed Drug and Alcohol Treatment Specialist graduate with Honours of Stratford Career Institute. Marcel has also received a certificate from Harvard for completing a course entitled The Opioid Crisis in America and a certificate from The University of Adelaide for completing a course entitled AddictionX: Managing Addiction: A Framework for Succesful Treatment.

Reviewer

MEDICAL REVIEWER

More Information

Michael Leach is a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, who has over 5 years of experience working in the field of addiction. He spent his career working under the board-certified Addictionologist Dr. Rohit Adi. His experience includes working with families during their loved one’s stay in treatment, helping those with substance abuse issues find treatment, and teaching life skills to patients in a recovery atmosphere. Though he has worked in many different areas of rehabilitation, the majority of his time was spent working one on one with patients who were actively withdrawing from drugs. Withdrawal and the fear of going through it is one biggest reason why an addict continues to use and can be the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process. His experience in the withdrawal atmosphere has taught him that regardless of what approach a person takes to get off drugs, there are always mental and emotional obstacles that need to be overcome. He believes having someone there to help a person through these obstacles can make all the difference during the withdrawal process.