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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) explains that opioids “are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), codeine, morphine, and many others.” When opioids are ingested, they work by attaching to opioid receptors, which are in one’s brain, spinal cord, gastrointestinal tract, and other organs in one’s body. Opioids adjust the amount of information surrounding pain that is relayed to various areas of one’s body, by reducing one’s perception of pain. The treatment process for individuals struggling with opioid abuse and/ or opioid use disorder (OUD) is often comprised of the following three stages in sequential order: detox, a substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment program, and aftercare.


There is a myriad of different pharmacological and therapeutic approaches when it comes to treating opioid use disorder. The most effective treatment includes a customized and nuanced treatment plan, incorporating medication when needed as well as the best possible therapeutic modalities that are expressly geared to everyone’s personal needs. When treating OUD, it often recommended for individuals to attend a rehab program that offers medication-assisted treatment. Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is the use of medication in conjunction with various behavioral therapies to make up a treatment plan for substance use disorder. The three most relied upon FDA approved medications used to treat opioid use disorder include:

  • Suboxone: a medication that is made up of buprenorphine and naloxone. It is most used to assist in treating opioid withdrawal. As a partial agonist, buprenorphine only allows this medication to partially bind to one’s opioid receptors. Naloxone works by counteracting the effects of opioids on one’s brain. Therefore, an individual who attempts to abuse opioids, while taking Suboxone will experience adverse effects due to the naloxone.
  • Vivitrol: a medication that must be administered by a medical professional, as it comes in the form of an injection. It is an antagonist medication that provides relief for opioid cravings, minimizes withdrawal symptoms, and prevents overdose. In most cases, any individual that uses Vivitrol as part of their MAT must abstain from any opiate use for a minimum of fourteen days, prior to the first dose.
  • Methadone: is probably the most known medication used for the treatment of opioid addiction. It is a full agonist, meaning it fully binds to the opioid receptors in one’s brain and nervous system. This results in a complete block of the euphoric high that occurs from opioid drug use, as well as easing the discomforts of withdrawal symptoms. It is highly regulated, as it can be dangerous if abused.

There is no universal treatment method that proves successful for every person struggling with opioid use disorder, as the recovery process is directly informed by one’s personality, mental health, and emotional needs.

For Information and Support

If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at admissions@hhtxc.com.

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