Opioid treatment clinics can seem like daunting places. Perhaps you’re someone suffering from opioid addiction, or you’re someone whose family member or close friend suffers from opioid addiction. No matter who you are, opioid treatment clinics may be your best option. What should you know about them?
Opioid treatment centers provide the resources to help patients begin recovering from opioid addiction. Generally, this means treatment through the use of medically-assisted treatments (MATs), which use medications to lessen patients’ physical dependence on harmful opioids like heroin, morphine, or fentanyl. MATs are one part of a larger recovery strategy (we will soon cover all its parts).
Opioid treatment centers also offer different options according to the needs of the individual patients. Some patients might require inpatient (residential) recovery programs, while others might only need outpatient programs. Inpatient programs require patients to stay in the facility under medical supervision for anywhere between one and four weeks. Outpatient programs provide medical supervision through regular treatments at the clinic while patients still live full-time at their homes.
If you visited an opioid treatment clinic, you wouldn’t immediately receive a MAT. Clinics first match potential patients with medical professionals to develop an individualized treatment program. This step considers the nature of the patient’s opioid addiction, their medical history, and their personal circumstances. From there, the doctors determine the patient’s eventual treatment program.
Following intake, and if the doctor recommends residential treatment, you will begin living in the opioid treatment clinic to undergo the detoxification (detox) process. This is when the body purges all its remaining opioids. Detox can be extremely uncomfortable, because patients will suffer withdrawal from the opioids which they’re addicted to. Many clinics choose to place patients under medical supervision during their detoxification, meaning that patients are under the constant watch of medical personnel to keep them safe during the potentially-fatal symptoms of withdrawal. Withdrawal might last anywhere between a week and month, depending on the specific patient’s opioid addiction.
During this first period, patients will receive MAT to help them through withdrawal. FDA-approved opioids like methadone or buprenorphine give patients the pain relief needed to withstand detox, but are also measured to prevent addiction. To learn more about the exact mechanisms of MAT opioids, look here.
Once you finish detox, you’ll begin the rehabilitation process of opioid addiction recovery. Rehabilitation continues MATs but also adds individual and communal behavioral therapy. This therapy helps patients focus on the emotional and psychological elements of their opioid addiction. If you can understand why you used opioids in the first place, then you can reshape your life to stop using them. Patients in therapy also learn strategies to avoid drug triggers and replace opioid use with better alternatives.
Individual counseling leads to communal behavioral therapy, where your participation in groups can give you accountability and support from your peers. Interacting with others who are in recovery show that no one is alone, and that no one has to feel isolated. Also, if you participate in group recovery programs (such as the traditional 12-step plan), you might form strong bonds with your peers that might help stabilize you after the end of treatment. Doctors often include patients in peer groups similar to the patients’ identities, such as women- or men-only groups, religious groups, adolescent groups, and more.The therapy lasts as long as the individual patient needs it, as do MATs.
Once your residential program ends, doctors usually recommend that you continue your individual and peer counseling continue once you’ve left the opioid treatment clinic. This is called discharge planning, when you and your doctors determine how you can commit to lifelong sobriety. What the strategy is will vary according to your development and continuing needs.
Continued care can mean staying in a sober living facility, attending post-rehab peer therapy meetings, and taking periodic drug tests. Sober living facilities provide a drug-free home environment to anyone beginning their sobriety outside of opioid treatment clinics. The regular peer therapy meetings and periodic drug tests help keep you accountable to your sobriety; committing to time with your peers is a good way to insure that your recovery continues. Recovery needs to remain ongoing, because for most people who once struggled with opioid addiction, it is a lifelong battle.
If you contact an opioid treatment clinic and complete its intake assessment, you will likely receive treatment, but recovery isn’t always a residential program. Some patients might receive outpatient treatment, if they’re working or parenting full-time. Also consider whether the doctor patient prescribes methadone, usually meaning the medications Dolophine or Methadose. If a doctor recommends methadone for your MAT, you might need a residential rehab, because federal regulations only allow methadone use at approved opioid treatment clinics. Buprenorphine serves outpatient programs better than methadone, because it has fewer federal restrictions and can be dispensed in office spaces as well as in opioid treatment clinics.
How to pay for MATs depends on the treatment plan. The Affordable Care Act requires many medical insurance companies to cover costs for addiction treatments, but not all insurers will cover all the possible options. Ask your healthcare insurance provider about their opioid addiction policies. Look here to read more about insurance and payments if you receive Medicaid or Medicare.
Whether you are considering treatment for yourself or for someone else, you should understand exactly what opioid treatment clinics do. There are more resources here. There are risks: withdrawal symptoms can be painfully intense, and some opioid treatment clinics have costly inpatient treatment. But these risks can’t outweigh the possible benefit: strong steps toward recovery from opioid addiction, which will give you a shot at a sober life. That’s the best outcome for any patient, and that’s the end goal of all opioid treatment clinics. So take the time to find an opioid treatment clinic near you. Take the first step toward recovery.