Opioid Treatment Programs To Consider


Deciding to cut opioids from your life and get sober is a considerable step you shouldn’t take alone.

Opioid treatment programs are an excellent way to embark on a medically supervised recovery journey. These programs can help you manage your withdrawal symptoms while ensuring you don’t stop midway or relapse afterward.

This article will cover everything you need to know before joining an opioid treatment program.

What Are Opioid Treatment Programs (OTPs)?

Opioid treatment programs, or narcotics treatment programs, are specialized programs designed for people with opioid addiction or opioid use disorder.

OTPs provide opioid addiction treatment through behavioral therapy, such as counseling or group therapy, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT).

Together, these methods help eliminate opioids from your system while ensuring you don’t succumb to your urges in the future.

How Common Are Opioid Treatment Programs?

As the opioid epidemic spreads, opioid treatment programs have become indispensable.

A 2021 SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) study showed that over 3 million people aged 12 or older received substance abuse treatment that year.

Of these 3 million people, about 72% went to a specialized treatment facility or joined an opioid treatment program.

Signs You Should Join an Opioid Treatment Program

You should consider joining an opioid treatment program if you exhibit signs or symptoms of opioid use disorder (OUD).

Here are some common symptoms to look out for:

  • Opioid use starts to affect your daily activities and social interactions.
  • You constantly need to up your opioid dose to get the same effect.
  • You notice opioid withdrawal symptoms when you reduce your opioid dose or stop it.
  • Intense cravings for opioids.
  • You can’t stop taking opioids despite attempts.
  • Taking opioids in more significant amounts than prescribed or more extended periods.
  • Using opioids in risky situations, such as while driving.

How Opioid Treatment Programs Work

Opioid treatment programs are usually divided into medication-assisted treatment and behavioral therapy.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-assisted treatment is a cornerstone of opiate addiction programs. It’s one of the fastest ways to recover from opioid use disorders while comfortably managing withdrawal symptoms.

According to studies by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, medication-assisted treatment has contributed to reducing the following:

  • Opioid use
  • Deaths due to opioid overdose
  • Criminal activities
  • Infectious disease transmission.

For example, following the introduction of buprenorphine in the city of Baltimore, heroin-related overdose deaths dropped by 37%.

Medication-assisted treatment was also proven to help patients function better socially and stick to their substance abuse programs.

Here are some of the most common FDA-approved medications used in opioid treatment programs.


Methadone is a synthetic opioid that binds to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. It works similarly to opioid drugs, causing pain relief but without the addictive euphoric sensation.

Methadone also has a longer duration of action than most opioid drugs, which means your body requires less frequent doses to get the relaxing and pain-killing effects.

This helps reduce cravings and minimizes withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking opioids. Methadone is an excellent medication for short-term detox and long-term opioid treatment programs.

However, since it has some opioid-like effects, there’s still a tiny chance of becoming addicted to methadone or relapsing if abused. That’s why federal regulations restrict methadone to specialized pharmacies and rehab centers that offer opioid treatment programs.


Buprenorphine is a partial opioid agonist that binds to opioid receptors but not as strongly as other opioid drugs or methadone. It doesn’t cause any euphoria and can help reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings with minimal risk of addiction.

It’s generally considered safer than methadone and highly utilized in detox centers and OTPs.

Buprenorphine can be prescribed and dispensed by physicians, making it much more accessible than methadone.

Vivitrol (Naltrexone)

Vivitrol is an extended-release injection that contains naltrexone, an opioid antagonist used in many opioid treatment programs.

As an opioid antagonist, Vivitrol blocks opioid receptors and prevents opioid drugs from working or causing euphoria.

However, this leads to withdrawal symptoms, so Vivitrol is usually given with buprenorphine to reduce withdrawal symptoms.

Vivitrol can also be life-saving in case of an opioid overdose since it keeps opioids from working long enough for your body to expel them.

Behavioral Therapies

The second part of opioid treatment programs is behavioral therapy, as crucial as medication-assisted treatment.

Behavioral therapy addresses the psychological burdens that come with opioid addiction, which is why lots of patients continue with this part of OTPs after finishing their MAT period.

It helps keep them on track during treatment and prevents relapse or temptations after being discharged from the program.

Individual Counseling

This type of behavioral therapy focuses on your specific needs and circumstances.

A trained counselor works one-on-one with you to identify triggers, develop coping strategies, and address underlying issues contributing to your addiction.

Group Counseling

Group counseling provides a supportive environment where you can share your experiences, receive feedback, and connect with others facing similar challenges.

Group counseling can help individuals feel less isolated and more connected to others who understand their struggles.

Family Counseling

Family counseling involves your family members in the recovery process. It helps your family members understand opioid addiction and develop strategies to make sure you don’t relapse.

This behavioral therapy also strengthens your family ties, making you feel less isolated in your daily struggles.

Finding Opioid Treatment Programs

Several governmental entities and opioid treatment centers offer programs for patients suffering from opioid addiction.

For example, the SAMHSA offers a Treatment Finder Tool that guides you to the nearest treatment facility. They also provide a directory of certified opioid treatment programs in the United States based on your state.

The American Addiction Centers offer an around-the-clock hotline pointing you to one of their OTPs scattered throughout the country.


With the right opioid treatment program and support, you can overcome your addiction and close the door to an unpleasant chapter in your life.


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