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What are the Different Treatments for Opiate Addiction?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 17, 2024
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Most patients who undergo treatments for opiate addiction require a wide range of methods in order to make a full recovery. The most common methods are rapid or slow detoxification, counseling, prescription medications, and group therapy. Occasionally unconventional treatments may also be used, such as hypnosis. Many patients require a combination of therapies to obtain maximum benefits.

One of the most common treatments for opiate addiction is detox. This can be done in several ways. Most recently, doctors have begun using prescription drugs to temporarily substitute the drug a patient is addicted to in order to slowly wean them away from addiction. Although this method is common, it does not have a high success rate since the medications used are often also addictive if taken for too long. Patients and doctors must be diligent in stopping the dosage of these medications soon enough to avoid a secondary addiction.

Other forms of detox are often considered harder on the body, but they do not run the risk of secondary addictions. One requires that patients stop taking the drugs they are addicted to cold turkey. This is often done in a rehab facility under supervision. Quitting a drug suddenly can have side effects, and patients are often very ill for several days until their bodies adjust to the lack of drugs.

Another detox method is one of the most recently developed treatments for opiate addiction. It involves sedating patients while weaning them off medications so that uncomfortable side effects are not as noticeable. This has to be done in specialized treatment centers under the direct supervision of trained medical staff.

Once patients are fully free of drugs, additional treatments for opiate addiction are often needed. Counseling is commonly required for patients to discover the underlying causes of addiction. Those who become addicted to drugs often have emotional problems or mental illness. These issues can be combated using a combination of counseling and sometimes group therapy with others who suffer from the same problems or addictions.

Since opiate addiction can lead to serious health complications, additional treatments may be necessary to handle any conditions which arise. During treatment patients should be closely monitored by a medical doctor along with mental health professionals. Health problems can vary, but they may include heart and other organ failure as well as damage to the brain. The extent of health complications may depend on how long the patient was using drugs.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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