Opioid Addiction Treatment – What to Expect in Rehab

Over 2.1 million people in the US and over 16 million people globally suffer from Opioid addiction. Comprehensive opioid addiction treatment might also involve the use of medications in these rehab centers and support from family and friends. Opioid overdose is responsible for over 120,000 and 47,000 deaths globally and in the United States respectively.

Seeking professional help is essential. It is the safest and most effective method of treatment. Comprehensive rehab programs involve the provision of medical care during detox, a structure as well as therapy and counseling to determine the reasons for drug dependence. It usually follows the steps of screening and engagement, diagnosis, detox, level of care assessment as well as aftercare services.

Opioid Addiction Treatment and Rehab

Opioid Addiction and Dependence

Opioid use disorder (OUD) is the prolonged use of opioids that results in clinically significant distress or impairment. An overwhelming urge to use opioids, an increase in opioid tolerance, and withdrawal symptoms are signs of opioid addiction when an individual is using the drug.

OUD when left unchecked leads to opioid overdose and possibly death. It is important to watch out for opioid overdose symptoms which may include tiny, narrow “pinpoint pupils”, loss of consciousness, and clammy, pale, and blue skin. The goal of this article is to give a useful overview of opioid treatment and rehab, discuss opioid use disorder medical procedures, give tips on selecting a fitting rehab center, and more.

What Is the Treatment for Opioid Addiction?

Treatment involves medication-assisted treatment, residential and hospital-based treatment, counseling, and behavioral therapies.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Methadone Maintenance Therapy

Like heroin or opium, methadone is an opioid. Methadone maintenance therapy has been used to treat opioid dependence since the 1950s. The patient who is dependent on opioids takes a tablet or liquid form of methadone once a day. This lessens their opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and also blocks the effects of other opioids, at a maintenance dose, it does not induce euphoria. Methadone requires observation to ascertain the correct dose, it might take a couple of weeks.

Being dependent on illegal opiates like heroin is not the same as being on methadone. Under medical supervision, methadone is a safer medication for the patient than heroin of unknown origin. One takes orally, whereas injecting heroin might result in HIV transmission if syringes and needles are shared.

Noteworthy research points in MMT (Methadone Maintenance Therapy) include :

  • Methadone doses of more than 60 mg are the most effective
  • MMT greatly reduces drug injection; as a result, it minimizes HIV transmission
  • Treatment with methadone can start immediately and one doesn’t need to be opioid-free
  • Safer and more long-acting, requiring less frequent usage
  • Additionally, MMT significantly lowers the fatality rate linked to opioid dependence.
  • Finally, MMT decreases criminal activities by opioid users.


Similar to methadone it is an opioid agonist and when taken at the right dose, it suppresses and reduces craving for opioids. When compared to methadone, it has a lesser risk for overdose, side effects are not as evident, lower risk of drug interactions and arrhythmias.

It comes in 2 forms:

  • Daily sublingual (under the tongue) pill or film: Suboxone a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone. Most persons who have a steady dose and are not experiencing any medication-related issues can switch to take-home dosages. You have more freedom and flexibility with take-home dosing.
  • Injection every month: Every four weeks, a medical professional will inject Sublocade, also known as Buprenorphine Extended-Release or Buprenorphine ER, into a patient at a hospital, clinic, or other facility.


It is an opioid antagonist and it functions differently from methadone and buprenorphine. It doesn’t assist with cravings or symptoms of withdrawal. As an alternative, it eliminates the high that comes from using opioids. For this reason, the purpose of taking naltrexone is not to try to stop using opioids, but rather to avoid a relapse. You must have been off opioids for 7-10 days before commencing this medication, if not, you can experience severe withdrawal symptoms. If well tolerated, the oral form is administered once, and the monthly long-acting injectable form follows.

Benefits of MAT

  • These medicines are not sedating in nature
  • They lessen hospitalizations and ER visits
  • They enhance mood and functioning

Additionally, it can lessen the negative effects of your drug usage, allowing you to focus on your wellness and make healthier lifestyle choices. It can also help you stabilize your life, which will free up time for you to attend to other elements of your life, such as social, financial, or family matters, or therapy.

Challenges of MAT

  • Stigmatization from taking these medicines as well as time and costs required for medical supervision.
  • Others originate from the side effects of some of the medications. Side effects vary from nausea, and vomiting, to sexual dysfunction, menstrual irregularities, weight gain, etc.

Behavioral Therapies

Counseling for OUD will help modify your drug-related behaviors, develop healthy living principles, and continue using alternative therapies, like medication. There are different types of counseling:

  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): this helps you identify and break negative thoughts and behavior patterns. It teaches you coping mechanisms, such as how to control your stress and adjust your thoughts to prevent you from abusing opioids.
  • Contingency Management Interventions: Its main goal is to reward you for positive actions, like abstaining from opioids.
  • Motivational Interviewing: This increases your motivation to follow your treatment plans.
  • Family therapy: Couples, spouses, and other close family members may participate in family counseling. It might assist in mending and enhancing your family ties.

Detoxification and Withdrawal Management

During detoxification, an individual undergoes the process of treating opiate withdrawal while eliminating physiological dependence. Programs for detoxification might take place in day, outpatient, residential, or inpatient settings, and different programs for different people. You can find more details about that in the more detailed article about detox.

Treatment Settings

Inpatient treatment for opioid addiction: Throughout the detoxification process, patients reside in a treatment facility where they get counseling and medical attention. Patients learn about substance abuse disorders and how to confront and treat the negative impacts of addiction in longer-term inpatient programs.

Outpatient treatment for opioid addiction: Here patients continue to reside in their homes while receiving medical care, counseling, and medication in a treatment center. Two categories it can further be divided into:

  • Partial hospitalization programming(PHP): Most intense outpatient programs, focus on stabilizing behaviors in the early stages of recovery. PHP programs often consist of five to six hours of therapy each day, five to six days a week.
  • Intensive outpatient programming (IOP): Here, patients start to resume their regular life by coming to the program three times a day, three days a week, for three hours of treatment. This makes more flexibility possible for work and personal obligations.
Program Pros Cons 
  • Faster detox process
  • More intensive counseling
  • Medical care is available when needed immediately
  • Higher cost
  • A controlled environment does not reflect the real world
  • Less expensive
  • Possibility of group support
  • Slower process
  • Physicians are not able to address patient’s needs immediately

Comprehensive Approach to Opioid Addiction Treatment

Opioid treatments are usually long-term. Before treatment, the following will be done:

  • Shared decisions where patients and professionals are aware of the work ahead of them
  • Screening and evaluation: The clinician properly assesses the severity of OUD. Opioid risk assessment tools such as ORT, COMM, and PMQ can be used.
  • Treatment Planning:
    • Incorporating family education and counseling into the treatment plan.
    • Lifestyle changes such as healthy routines, avoiding triggers, and building support systems will be addressed.
    • Relapse prevention strategies. There is the need to identify triggers, and coping mechanisms and have a contingency planning
    • Ongoing aftercare and alumni support services

What to Expect in Opioid Rehab?

Addicts can move past their addiction struggle with the help of an opioid rehab center. Here are some important steps expected in an opioid rehab center:

  • Intake and assessment process: The individual will undergo a holistic assessment.
  • Daily schedules and activities: Rehab programs are individual-specific, there could be individual and group therapy, education, and recreation.
  • The staff in the rehab facility will explain the rules and regulations.
  • The program’s challenges, including emotional distress and cravings, will be brought to light.
  • The program’s structure and support will be addressed, providing the benefits.
  • Importance of completing the full treatment program
  • Transitioning to aftercare and continuing recovery efforts

What is Opioid Rehab Like?

When considering treatment for opioid addiction, you might be wondering what an opioid rehab typically looks like in a day. Opioid rehab benefits are individualistic, there are specific programs for each individual which might be different for others. Your program will be explained and gradually followed in a structured manner.

Where to Get Help for Opioid Addiction

There are different treatment centers for opioid rehabilitation. However, there are specific things to watch out for before choosing a rehab center for your treatment. Here are some factors:

  • Location and the proximity to you.
  • The cost of treatment varies depending on the treatment and center.
  • Insurance coverage will help you reduce the cost of treatment.
  • Mental health therapy like specialized services should be looked out for.
  • Evaluating credentials such as accreditations and licensing with regulatory bodies
  • A review of the success rates and alumni testimonials

How Long is Rehab for Opioid Addiction?

There are different durations associated with opioid rehab programs. This is largely because the individual needs of opioid addicts vary and there is a need to always follow a comprehensive treatment schedule.


Many people in need of opioid addiction help would access the care they needed if they knew where to get it and what the treatment entails. OUD treatment and rehab involve a long process that requires determination and endurance for effectiveness.

Fortunately, professionals in varying capacities are available to play their role to get the best results possible. These professionals will enhance the relevant specialties for your recovery process, seek help today in the treatment clinics.