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Treatment Options for How to Stop Long Term Opiate Addiction

Updated on October 30, 2012

Opiate addiction is one of the most complicated types of drug addiction that exists. It is also one of the easiest addictions to fall victim to. That's because it's an addiction that most commonly starts with a prescribed drug. Drugs like codeine and morphine are prescribed by doctors to reduce pain associated with an injury or surgery. Unfortunately, they can be highly addictive for many people and can result in a long-term addiction which is tough to beat. This can ultimately lead to involvement with non-prescribed opiates including drugs as serious as heroin.

There are several reasons that opiate addictions are so complicated. First of all, there may still be actual physical pain that is relieved by the use of the drugs. Once you've gotten used to having a level of comfort, it can be extremely difficult to find other options for dealing with the pain. This situation is worsened by the fact that withdrawal symptoms from an addiction like this can be particularly painful. Additionally, opiates can numb the body from emotional pain. People who have been using them over a long period of time often find that trying to stop using them results in emotions coming up that haven't been felt for months or even years. This can be so overwhelming that the individual goes right back to using the drugs.

Despite the fact that there are obviously good reasons for not wanting to end an opiate addiction, particularly one that has gone on for an extended period of time, there are even better reasons to seek treatment. Opiates are harmful to the body and can cause significant problems throughout a person's life. Addiction hurts the individual as well as the people around him or her. Once it's been decided by the person that an addiction should be terminated, he or she has several treatment options to choose from:

  • Clinical treatment. The most common form of treatment for opiate addiction is clinical treatment. This may take place in rehab or in an outpatient setting. It starts with detoxification which means quitting the drug and getting through initial withdrawal symptoms. Then it enters a phase of maintenance which means learning to live without the drug. It is based on the idea that addiction is a disease which requires certain medical steps to overcome.
  • Faith-based treatment. Although this type of treatment has the same basic components as clinical treatment, it is rooted in a different philosophy. Essentially, it allows the individual to rely on the power of a higher faith to complete the steps necessary to get through withdrawal and in to a new life. AA (or NA) is the most common type of faith-based treatment. Many people find that choosing this route allows them to work one day at a time towards their goal because it's about more than just getting through the detox system. It is not necessary to believe in a particular religion in order to benefit from faith-based treatment.
  • Medical treatment. This type of treatment relies on using medications that are less toxic than the current drugs to wean the individual off of the addiction. This can be more successful than other treatments in the short term because it reduces the physical and emotional pain of detox. However, some believe it is not the most successful choice in the long run. In some cases, alternative healing treatments (such as chiropractic for back pain) can resolve the physical pain that keeps the need for opiates strong and reduce the problem.

Psychological treatment. There are some people who believe that addressing the underlying emotional problems that cause the addiction will resolve the problem. This type of treatment focuses on changing the behaviors of the individual while dealing with the past situations that caused the pain the person is in.

What needs to be understood about treating opiate addiction is that it's both a decision and an ongoing process. Treatment begins the moment that the individual decides to stop using. However, the process of treatment will be lifelong. There will be ups and downs, recommitment to treatment and possibly even switching from one treatment type to another over the course of a lifetime.


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  • profile image

    holler29 6 years ago

    i just relapsed after three and a half years clean. i kicked a 220mg a day methadone habit over 3 years ago.ive been active for about 4 months since my last relapse. it started with a scrip from the dentist'5mg perc,set me off now im doing 10 to 15 perc 30s a day.i went from 213 to 180 in weight i lost my job i have to hustle to not be sick every day. i hate this lifestyle.the withdraws i fear the sleepless nights kicking dope is a nightmare.

  • pressingtheissue profile image

    pressingtheissue 6 years ago from Pa

    Great hub. I was a heroin addict for 15 years before I finally figured it out. I got into a suboxone program and now am clean!

  • profile image

    AndrewHobs 7 years ago

    I had a 4 weeks detox period at a private clinic and now I am feeling better. It still haven't gone away that craving but I will enroll into a special program at a Christian based drug rehab center that I hope will keep me away from opiates and give me hope and strength for a better tomorrow.

  • Shealy Healy profile image

    Shealy Healy 7 years ago from USA

    Helpful hub.

  • jess can help u profile image

    jess can help u 8 years ago from Fresno, CA

    I am also a recovering heroin addict, and I understand the difficulty one goes through with trying to kick opiates. It is not an easy matter! What amazes me, is that people expect instant miracles, and it doesn't work that way! For me, my journey with addiction took me to places where no individual needs to be, and I realized early on with many failed times at recovery, that my problems would not go away overnight. I spent many years addicted to heroin, and it would take some time for recovery to work for me. The good news, is that I stopped using it about 17 years ago, and am grateful for my life today! Thanks for the info, I don't want to forget how it was like for me.


  • recovering addict profile image

    recovering addict 9 years ago

    Very interesting hub! One new treatment for opiate addiction is Ibogaine - have you heard of that? It is supposed to "reprogram" the mind, and after a three day trip, leave an opiate addicte free from their addiction, without any pains of withdrawal. Anyway, as an ex opiate user, I can say that it's all very tough to get off of.

  • profile image

    Deb - Causes of Drug Addiction 9 years ago

    That is a good point that it is both a decision and an ongoing process. It is the maintenance part that is the most difficult I find for most people. But everything in life is like that such as working on a relationship or building a relationship with your kids etc.