Prescription Opioid Treatment: Know the Basics

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There are many routes that can be taken during prescription opioid treatment, whether it’s the type of medicine used for treatment or the main behavioral therapies applied to address a client’s core addiction.

To understand the importance of why people with opioid addictions are advised to take longer stays for treatment—between 30 and 90 days—here are the main stages of prescription opioid treatment to know:


Prescription opioid treatment typically begins a period of detox for the client before they are enrolled into either an outpatient or inpatient program. Detox can last from a few days to a week, depending on the severity of the opioid addiction.

During this time, clients may receive maintenance medications to help them go through opioid withdrawal, especially when painful or psychological symptoms begin to occur. Clients will be monitored 24-7 by trained medical staff and behavioral technicians, who will assist clients throughout the detox process.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

During prescription opioid treatment, clients may be approved by their insurance to receive medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms. The following list includes common medications given to recovering opioid addicts to ease painful symptoms and reduce cravings:

Buprenorphine: A partial opioid agonist, this medication only partially activates opioid receptors when binding, which helps reduce cravings. Clients typically react well with this medication and now have the option to continue on a six-month buprenorphine-stabilization plan, approved by the FDA in 2016.

Methadone: Only available in licenses opioid treatment programs, methadone is a synthetic agonist that acts on the same neurological receptors that are triggered by opioids. It has been successful for many clients but may make certain people experience side effects such as sleepiness. As such, methadone maintenance requires monitorization to administer proper dosage amounts.

Naltrexone: Also known by its brand name, Vivitrol, naltrexone is an antagonist medication that prevents opioid receptors from binding with opioids and then being activated. It is typically administered as an injection and is long-acting, which is good for clients who forget to take their medication regularly or who do not necessarily have the means to obtain health treatment for their addiction on a consistent basis.

Naloxone: Though naloxone, or Narcan, is typically not used as a maintenance medication, it is important to mention. Naloxone is an antidote that reverses the effects of opioid overdose and is typically administered in emergency or crisis situations by EMT, police officials, or people carrying the drug. It can be a lifesaver in times of need, and often serves as a second chance for those struggling with opioid addiction to get treatment.

Other non-opioid medications, such as clonidine, can be used to alleviate opioid withdrawal symptoms. By restoring clients back to their normal effective state through medications, they can then have effective psychosocial treatment and begin the process to their mental recovery from addiction.

Yet, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, only 18 percent of people admitted into prescription opioid treatment receive MAT in their plan, which indicates the need to spread more awareness about prescription opioid treatment.

Behavioral Treatment

Prescription opioid treatment may involve an array of behavioral treatment therapies that address several conflicts a client may be dealing with. Beyond addressing substance use disorder, behavioral therapy may also lead to another psychological disorder assessment, allowing clients to participate in a dual-diagnosis program if necessary.

Some common behavioral therapies used for prescription opioid treatment are:

Contingency Management (CM): The core principles behind CM treatment involves giving clients positive reinforcement through prizes when they exhibit good behaviors, such as abstinence. This can be done through Voucher-Based Reinforcement (VBR) or Prize Incentives CM, which both reward clients after each drug-negative urine sample they provide during treatment. The prizes promote a drug-free lifestyle, such as for movie passes or food vouchers, and motivate clients to stay abstinent.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): The main goal for CBT is to address problematic thoughts and behaviors that lead an addiction to use substances, then substitute these actions with healthier coping mechanism, problem-solving skills, and mindful abstinence. This may involve recognizing the positive and negative effects of continued drug use, identifying triggers and cravings, and developing strategies to cope with these cravings in high-risk situations and how to avoid them altogether.

Dialectic Behavioral Therapy (DBT): DBT aims for two goals: change and acceptance. Designed for clients with severe psychological disorders, including substance use disorder and chronic suicidal thoughts, this therapy promotes dialectical abstinence, having a “clear mind,” and building a life worth living.

Trauma Therapy: Taking a trauma-informed approach to prescription opioid treatment can help clients who have resorted to substances as a result of a traumatic event or have endured trauma during their addiction. Trauma therapy aims to realize the impact of trauma on an individual and their social network, recognize symptoms and triggers of trauma, and responds by teaching knowledge on how to resist re-traumatization and begin recovery.

Family Therapy: Addiction is regarded as a “family disease,” which is why some treatment centers like the Palm Beach Institute emphasize having the family present and active during a client’s prescription opioid treatment. Family therapy can address conflicts in familial relationships, establish stronger support networks, rebuild trust, and set a plan for action after treatment.

Need Prescription Opioid Treatment? Come to the Palm Beach Institute

Addiction to prescription opioids can lead to intense, painful withdrawal symptoms for the afflicted person. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction and are considering prescription opioid treatment, come to the Palm Beach Institute.

We treat all of our guests like family and are here to help you start your journey to recovery. Don’t live in pain anymore. Call our 24-hour helpline at (855) 534-3574 or contact us online and start living sober today.



Staff Writer

The Palm Beach Institute employs a diverse staff of writers that share a common passion for helping those who are struggling with substance abuse find the care they need. With years of experience in the substance abuse treatment industry and decades of experience in writing and research, our team of writers constantly strive to present accurate and helpful information that is easily digestible and encourages people to seek help.

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  • My uncle and myself have been on and off methadone for the last decade and obviously paying the clinic daily leaves us with not a lot of money so I’m very curious about Painted planning we are very interested in the program and excited about getting our lives back we have.we have insurance.humana and medicare.

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