Help for opiate addiction

Getting help for opiate addiction involves a strong support system and the proper medical treatment: withdrawal, stabilization, and psychotherapy. Read here for more on opiate addiction and where you can get help.

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Opiate addiction help

Opiates are strong narcotic drugs that are used medically as strong prescription pain killers. When misused or taken in large doses, however, opiate drugs can cause a state of euphoria and will often lead to opiate addiction. Like other types of addictions, signs of opiate addiction may be physical or behavioral. So what can you do and where can you find help for opiate addiction?

Read on to find out how addiction to opiates can affect a person. Plus, we outline how to get help for a loved one of for your own addiction and how to feel normal after narcotics. Then, we invite your questions about opiate addiction at the end.

How to help opiate addiction

Before seeking treatment for yourself or a loved one, first understand how opiate addiction affects the body and mind. Opiate addiction is a very complicated problem, and requires three main types of treatment. Helping opiate addiction occurs during these three phases: the withdrawal phase, the stabilization phase, and the psychological treatment phase.

1. Opiate withdrawal treatment

People that become physically dependent on opiates will often need to go through a period of detoxification, or detox, at the start of opiate addiction treatment. During this period of time, they will experience physical withdrawal symptoms, starting agitation and a strong craving for the drug. As detox progresses, withdrawal symptoms may become more severe and could include symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headaches, profuse sweating, and trembling.

Serious opiate addictions are sometimes dangerous, and some opiate addicts may experience complications during detox. A small percentage of opiate withdrawal cases may even lead to death. Because of this, individuals experiencing opiate withdrawal symptoms are typically encouraged to do so under the supervision of medical professionals. Some drugs, including methadone and buprenophine, can also help address opiate withdrawal symptoms and help facilitate the detoxification process. Withdrawal symptoms may last just a few days, but they could persist for as long as two weeks, especially in the case of a severe opiate addiction.

2. Stabilization after opiate withdrawal

The period of time immediately following opiate detoxification is crucial to continuing drug abstinence. Even after the initial physical withdrawal symptoms resolve, many opiate addicts experience lingering mental and emotional problems. This phenomenon is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome, or PAWS. Common problems that can occur with PAWS include depression, anxiety, and intense cravings. Additionally, opiate PAWS can all dramatically increase the likelihood of a relapse. Depending on the severity of the addiction, these lingering effects can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. During this time, emotional support and treatment is imperative.

3. Psychological opiate addiction treatment

Treating the physical and emotional symptoms of opiate withdrawal and PAWS is not enough. The road to recovery is a long one, and in order to completely treat an opiate addiction, the underlying psychological causes of the addiction must be treated. This involves helping the addict identify why they started abusing the drug in the first place, and helping him or her break the thought patterns that lead to this destructive behavior. Behavioral therapy and counseling are typically recommended during this stage of opiate addiction treatment.

Getting help for opiate addiction

The first steps toward getting help for an opiate addiction are often very stressful and even terrifying. However, it’s important to remember that you are not alone on this journey. Help and support during this difficult time is always available for individuals who want and need it. Oftentimes, all you need to do is ask. Below is a list of some of the most common people and places you can turn to for help.

Family and friends

Your circle of family and friends is one of the most important support systems that you can have. Remember that your loved ones care about you, and they truly want to see you happy and healthy. If are serious about providing help for opiate addiction, they can be there to lend an ear or even assist you in finding medical help.


If you already have a primary care physician, he or she will can be a great resource. For instance, they will often be able to help you manage your physical withdrawal symptoms as well as refer you to mental health and addiction counselors.

Opiate addiction treatment centers

One of the best options you have for opiate addiction treatment is an opiate treatment center. These treatment centers focus on educating and treating opiate addicts, with inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, depending on your individual situation.

Spiritual leaders

During a difficult time, it’s easy to lose sight of your faith. However, the spiritual leaders in your community can help support opiate addition treatment. In fact, spiritual guidance is often incorporated into several different addiction treatment programs, as it can help recovery go much smoother for many addicts.

How to help an opiate addict

Watching someone you love and care about struggle with opiate addiction is difficult and heartbreaking. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help, such as staging an intervention and letting the addict know how their actions affect you and make you feel. You can also help an addict by locating addiction recovery resources, participating in their recovery, or just being there when they need support.

However, keep in mind that you can’t force someone to change if they don’t want to. As disheartening as it may be, you may need to simply sit back and wait for them to come to your for help. If this is the case, you may want to consider seeking counseling for yourself or attending a support group for loved ones of addicts. In addition to individual counseling, family therapy may also be useful to identify and address family dysfunction. In any case, DO NOT ENABLE the opiate addict by giving money or providing them with a place to stay. Stay lovingly detached, and seek help from a professional addiction counselor for more advice.

Opiate addiction helplines and hotlines

Whether you’re an addict yourself or you’re looking to help a loved one overcome their problem, opiate addiction helplines can be invaluable. These are free to call and anonymous, and many are manned by trained counselors who can point you on the right direction.

1-(866) 359 – 2722 National Opiate Helpline

1-(800) 303 – 2482 Opiate Addiction Helpline

1-(800) 662 – HELP The Drug Abuse Hotline

Help with opiate addiction questions

Recovery from opiate addiction is a long and difficult process that no one should have to go through alone. We understand that it can be confusing and frustrating, so if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Do you have an experience you’d like to share? That’s okay too – we’d love to hear your story as well! We respond to all comments personally.

Reference Sources: DOI: Signs and symptoms opiates fact sheet
NIDA for Teens: Educators Lesson Plan: How Does Someone Become Addicted to Opiates?
Medline Plus: Opiate Withdrawal
King Bounty Substance Abuse: Opioid Abuse and Treatment
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. i don’t understand why an opiate drug user must be using in order to get into a program. that is daughter is addicted to snorting perks. she can’t get into ANY facility without having the drug in her system for at least a week… …she knows she needs help and has been trying to do it on her own… I just don’t get it… I really don’t…she needs treatment but unless your a full blown daily user there is NO help for her. so what? I let her die? I need help ! I want my daughter to live.

  2. For 10yrs I’ve been taking morphine for chronic pain due to 2 botched back surgeries. I’m not addicted to it, I’ve been taking the prescribed dosage. I’m tired of being on this & want to look into different treatment options without having to stay on this stuff.

    I just stopped cold turkey & starting to feel some of the beginning stages of withdrawl. I went to a facility to detox. They wouldn’t help. I was told that because of this pain I’ll still be needing pain meds forever. I told them that I want to try other options to help with the pain without meds.

    I was turned down because of the pain I’ll always need pain meds & even after explaining that I have no desire to stay on the pills & I was in desperate need help with the withdrawals & was turned away without anything to help.

    I don’t know what to do now, I’m shocked being turned away by a place that’s supposed to help. I’m scared to death about how sick I’ll be getting & the one place that’s supposed to help wont.

    Now what do I do

    1. Hi, Dawn. Don’t be afraid! I suggest you call the helpline number displayed on our site to get in touch with our trusted treatment providers who can help you access an adequate treatment program.

  3. Gd Evng ~ I’m on Eastern Time Zone (Atlanta), it is 10:20 p.m. 7/2 14 – Wednesday. I am beginning my home detox from SOOO many hydros. I need your help. Many Thanks! Mary

  4. Jean,
    I am 38 and took oxy for 5+ years. I allowed it to ruin my life, sadly. I’d finally had enough and sought out suboxone treatment. Has your son tried that? It saved my life. I’m 100+ days clean, stopped suboxone about 2 weeks ago and I’m doing okay.

    Sadly, I suffer dental issues from medication as well and have few teeth left. I used to be a pretty-ish girl, too:(. I let it take so much, I hate it. Please tell your son he CAN overcome, but realize that ultimately, it has to be HIS choice, or it will never work.

    Best of luck,

  5. Hello Jean. It is very painful to watch someone you love suffer from addiction. You can call 1-800-662-HELP, a national government hotline sponsored by SAMHSA, to find local treatment center options in Wisconsin. Be explicit in asking for low cost treatment, including federal vouchers, city or state subsidized programs, and scholarship opportunities.

  6. My 28 yr old son has had an opiate addiction for several years. He is a brittle asthmatic and been on steroids tx for years. He is in maximum debt for medical bills because of ER visits as having asthma attacks due to the mix of weather, opiates, and his multible asthma medications. His addiction started with huge oral (teeth) problems starting at 18 yrs from his meds and a massive sugar addiction. With so much mouth pain he started Oxicontan (sp) for pain relief. He voluntarily went into a tx center (out patient) and they put him on tramadol, which I think he turned that into his addicition. He now owes that tx center thousands of dollars, and has returned to what he calls “a lessor form of opiate.” Now at 28 years of age he has lost EVERY tooth in his mouth. Promising to now get off the pain killers as the pain is no longer the issue, I’ve gotten him to admit he is still using. He lives with his father who does nothing but enable him…….I am getting into financial problems because I’ve helped him pay for the dental care, which is ongoing trying to save for dentures and implants. $30,000.00 is unreachable to me which is the estimate for implants. At his age to have lower dentures is not a good option as by age 40 he will no longer have the bone to hold them. My son holds a menial job at 8 bucks an hour, but never misses work. He does not have the self esteem to find better employment without teeth. I have had nightmares about my son’s death, and knowing that is a real possibly between the asthma and drug use. Is there anyplace that can help without such a high monetary cost in the WI area (Madison) perhaps? I feel like a sinking ship without a bucket to bail water or life perserver to float. Thank you for any kind of suggestions.

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