Types of Treatment in Opiate Rehab

Over the past decade, opiate addiction rates have seen a rapid rise with heroin and prescription pain pill addiction rates running neck-and-neck. While heroin has a well-known reputation as an addictive drug, many people still consider prescription pain pills as relatively safe to use.

Today, pain pills have become gateway drugs to heroin abuse, so people caught up in prescription drug abuse really have no idea how powerful these drugs can be. Not surprisingly, the demand and need for opiate rehab treatment has increased substantially with more and more people falling prey to the dangerous effects of opiates.

The types of treatment used in opiate rehab run the gamut in terms of addressing the different stages of addiction as well as the different degrees of damage these drugs leave in their wake. As addiction’s effects can vary from person to person, finding the right type of opiate rehab treatment is essential to breaking the drug’s hold over a person’s life.

Fortunately, methods of opiate rehab treatment have advanced considerably over the past 50 years, providing a range of treatment options from which to choose. More than anything else, the choice between opiate rehab options should be based on a person’s individual treatment needs rather than convenience or treatment program durations.

Opiate Addiction Effects

rehab for opiates

Counseling and behavioral therapies are some of the main components of an opiate addiction treatment program.

Opiate-based drugs attack the core chemical processes that regulate most every bodily function. These interactions start in the brain and over time start to impair a person’s health and psychological well-being.

Opiate addictions tend to unfold in stages, with dependency issues taking root early on, especially in cases of opiate abuse. Physical dependency develops in response to opiate’s damaging effects on brain cell structures and their ability to secrete essential neurotransmitter chemicals, according to Semel Institute.

Before long, a person’s tolerance for opiates starts an uphill climb, driving him or her to ingest increasingly larger drug doses over time. With ongoing use, the brain’s physical dependence on opiates morphs into a psychological dependence that warps how a person thinks and behaves.

Once psychological dependency takes hold, a full-blown addiction is at work. At this point, addicts fall into a lifestyle that centers around getting and using opiate drugs. Meanwhile, the drug’s all-consuming effects on a person’s thinking make it all but impossible to acknowledge the negative effects of addiction in his or her life.

Without needed opiate rehab treatment, the likelihood of continued drug use remains considerably high; even in cases where a person does manage to abstain from drug use for a while.

Opiate Rehab Treatment Objectives

Opiate rehab treatment objectives work to address the challenges and obstacles addicts face throughout the recovery process. With long-term abstinence being the overall goal, a person’s individual treatment needs will determine which types of treatment interventions will work best.

In general, treatment interventions used help addicts –

  • Abstain from further drug use
  • Support damaged brain chemical processes
  • Work through the underlying issues that drive addiction tendencies
  • Obtain treatment for psychological problems that result from chronic drug use
  • Stay engaged in the recovery process

While the overall treatment process remains the same, some forms or stages of treatment may be more intensive than others depending on a person’s treatment needs.

Treatment Types

Detox Treatment

While some people may be able to stop using opiates on their own, many require the type of care provided through detox treatment programs. During the course of an addiction, warding off withdrawal effects becomes a primary motivator for continued drug use.

When stopping opiate use altogether, withdrawal effects are at their worse and can quickly overwhelm a person’s attempts to follow through. Opiate rehab detox treatment takes place within a heavily monitored environment where addicts receive the physical and emotional support needed to successfully complete the detox stage.

Behavioral Treatment Interventions

Opiate addiction stems from a person’s psychological addiction on the drug’s effects more so than the body’s physical dependence. For this reason, behavioral-based interventions make up a substantial part of opiate rehab treatment.

Opiate rehab treatment programs use a range of behavioral-based interventions to help addicts undo addiction’s damaging effects and develop a healthy psychological mindset. Interventions typically take the form of –

  • Individual psychotherapy
  • Group therapy
  • Drug counseling
  • 12 Step support group meetings

Medication Replacement Therapies

The damage to brain cell functions from long-term opiate use leaves the brain in a perpetual state of chemical imbalance. For people coming off severe opiate addictions, medication replacement therapies can go a long way towards relieving the ongoing aftereffects experienced in recovery, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Without some form of physical support, those in opiate rehab recovery continue to experience emotional distress for months or years into the recovery process. Medication replacement therapies, such as methadone and buprenorphine help reestablish the brain’s chemical balance, which provides considerable relief from distressing opiate aftereffects.

Inpatient Programs

Someone with a long history of opiate abuse will likely develop both physical and psychological problems along the way. Under these conditions, addiction recovery becomes all the more difficult when a person also struggles with other physical and psychological disorders.

Opiate rehab inpatient programs offer a more intensive treatment approach, with addicts receiving round-the-clock care. Services offered include –

  • Treatment for co-occurring psychological disorders
  • Treatment for medical conditions, such as diabetes and heart problems
  • Medication replacement therapies
  • Behavioral treatment interventions

Residential and Outpatient Treatment Programs

Both residential and outpatient treatment programs offer a more long-term approach to opiate rehab. Both types of programs offer the same services, though at different intensity levels.

Residential programs take place within a live-in treatment setting, whereas people attending outpatient programs live at home. Someone recovering from a severe addiction problem would most benefit from the structure and stability afforded by residential programs. As outpatient programs allow for more freedom and flexibility, this level of care is best suited for people with mild or early-stage addiction problems.


While the various types of opiate rehab treatment do offer a range of treatment choices, the severity of a person’s addiction should dictate which course of treatment will best address his or her treatment needs. Opiate addictions carry a high relapse rate, with scores of people going in and out of treatment programs only to end up resuming drug use later on.

Getting the needed level of opiate rehab treatment at the outset can save a person a lot of frustration and heartache down the road.