Opioid Detox, Treatment, Rehab

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Opioid addiction is a complex and difficult condition to manage, but there are several evidence-based strategies used to treat it successfully. When combined, these approaches can have a synergistic effect and be more effective than any one or two would be alone. These can include medical detox, inpatient and outpatient treatment, individualized therapies, relapse prevention techniques, and more.

Guardian Recovery is an innovative behavioral health treatment center staffed with a team of medical and mental health professionals dedicated to ensuring that each individual receives the support and resources they need to fully recover physically, emotionally, and spiritually from the challenging conditions affecting them. Contact us today to learn more about our multiple levels of care and personalized treatment plans to begin your pursuit of a new life in recovery.

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Commonly Misused Opioid Medications

Prescription opioids, when used as prescribed by a healthcare professional, can be effective in managing pain. However, when these medications are used in excess or not taken as directed by a doctor, they can lead to dependence, addiction, and other severe health problems. Their effects can, in some instances, be as detrimental as those associated with illicit opioids like heroin and fentanyl.

Commonly Misused RX Opioids Include:

  • Oxycodone (OxyContin®, Percocet®).
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin®, Norco®).
  • Morphine (Kadian®, Avinza®).
  • Codeine (Tylenol® with codeine).
  • Fentanyl.
  • Tapentadol.
  • Methadone.

Signs & Symptoms of Opioid Dependence

Opioid dependence is considered a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by physical and psychological reliance on opioids. When an individual becomes dependent on opioids, their body adjusts to the drug’s presence, and stopping or rapidly reducing use will lead to potentially severe withdrawal symptoms.

Opioid Dependence Signs & Symptoms Include:

  • Intense and persistent cravings or urges to use opioids.
  • Tolerance, or needing increasing doses of the drug to achieve the desired effect. 
  • Withdrawal symptoms, including nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, anxiety, and depression.
  • Difficulty controlling or limiting opioid use despite adverse physical, mental, or social consequences.
  • Neglect of personal, occupational, or educational responsibilities as a result of opioid use.
  • Withdrawal from social activities, hobbies, or relationships as opioid use is prioritized.
  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to reduce or discontinue opioid use.

How Long Does It Take for Opioid Addiction To Develop?

The duration of time required for the development of opioid addiction can vary depending on various factors, including individual traits, drug use patterns, and the opioids involved. For some individuals, even early-stage use can lead to a rapid progression to addiction, while others can maintain consistent and chronic opioid use over weeks or months before significant problems arise. At any stage, opioid misuse can accelerate the development of physical and emotional dependence and addiction. 

Can You Detox From Opioid Dependence on Your Own?

Attempting to detox from opioids without medical supervision can be challenging and potentially dangerous. While some individuals do choose to detox from opioids on their own, it is generally not recommended due to the potential risks and complications that can occur. Rather than undertaking a self-detox, seeking professional help is strongly advised.

Opioid Addiction Detox & Rehab Process

The process of detox and rehab for opioid addiction typically involves multiple stages and varies depending on individual needs and the severity of the condition.

Components of the Treatment Process Include:

  • Assessment—This includes an overall health evaluation, including a history of substance use and any co-occurring psychiatric disorders, to devise an appropriate treatment plan.
  • Supervised Detox—This includes medical monitoring and medications to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings. 
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)—MAT may be used to support ongoing recovery and manage cravings and prolonged withdrawal. These medications typically include methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. (1)
  • Behavioral Therapies—Approaches such as individualized therapy are used to address the underlying causes of addiction and help individuals establish healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Supportive Services—These can include psychoeducation, vocational training, and 12-step programs.
  • Aftercare Planning—This includes post-treatment services such as ongoing therapy, outpatient services, support groups, and relapse prevention strategies.

Medically Detoxing From Opioid Misuse or Overdose

Medically detoxing from opioid misuse or overdose involves managing withdrawal symptoms and ensuring the individual’s safety and well-being. In the event of an overdose, emergency medical attention will be required. Once stabilized, the individual’s vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure, will be monitored. Medications may be prescribed to manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Duration of Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline

The duration of withdrawal symptoms and the timeline for each stage can vary depending on several individual factors, including the specific opioids used, the intensity of use, and overall health.

  1. Early Stage—6–12 hours (short-acting opioids) and 24–48 hours (long-acting opioids). Initial symptoms include anxiety, restlessness, muscle aches, insomnia, sweating, and agitation.
  2. Acute Stage—2–4 days. Peak-intensity symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, dilated pupils, a rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressure, and intense drug cravings. 
  3. Sub-Acute Stage—Approximately 1–2 weeks. Reduced intensity symptoms include anxiety, mood swings, insomnia, fatigue, and appetite loss.
  4. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)—Several weeks to a year or more. Psychological symptoms include anxiety, depression, and other mood-related mental health issues. 

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How Long Are Opioid Detox & Addiction Treatment Programs?

The duration of opioid detox and rehab programs can vary depending on the individual’s specific needs and the intensity of behavioral health issues, particularly addiction. Medical detox is often the first step in the process and typically lasts for a few days to approximately one week. Inpatient or residential treatment programs can range from 28 days to several months, depending on treatment goals. Outpatient programs vary in intensity and duration but generally require 9–20 hours per week and can last for several months. Less intensive outpatient programs require fewer treatment hours and can last up to a year, or as long as necessary.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment & Co-Occurring Disorders

Dual diagnosis treatment refers to an integrated approach facilitated by a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals that simultaneously addresses both substance use disorders and co-occurring psychiatric disorders.

Common Co-Occurring Psychiatric Disorders Include:

Key Aspects of Dual Diagnosis Treatment Include:

  • Comprehensive assessment.
  • Integrated treatment.
  • Medication management.
  • Individual therapies.
  • Group therapy.
  • Psychoeducation.
  • Supportive services.
  • Long-term aftercare.

The theory behind the need to address psychiatric and substance use disorders jointly is based on extensive scientific evidence suggesting that people treated for one condition but not the other are more likely to relapse or return to prior behavioral problems.

Rehab Options & Treatment Programs for Opioid Addiction

There are several rehab and treatment options for opioid addiction available to support individuals during and after recovery.

Inpatient or Residential Rehab

Inpatient or residential programs allow individuals to reside in a specialized facility round-the-clock in a highly structured, comfortable, and supportive environment. They typically offer a broad range of intensive behavioral therapies, evidence-based services, and recreational activities aimed at addressing all aspects of addiction and mental well-being. 

Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)

PHP is a highly structured form of outpatient treatment for those who require intensive care and support but not 24/7 supervision. In these programs, individuals usually return home or to a supervised living environment in the evenings. It is often used to transition between inpatient and outpatient treatment and includes many of the same therapies and services as inpatient programs.

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)

IOP is suitable for individuals who require a higher level of care than traditional outpatient therapy. It provides a therapeutic setting that allows individuals to address their challenges and receive support while maintaining their daily routines and obligations. It offers a step-down level of care for those transitioning from inpatient or PHP programs or as an alternative to these higher treatment levels.

Virtual & Online Treatment & Counseling

Virtual and online treatment (also known as teletherapy or telehealth) services make use of technology to connect individuals with therapists, counselors, and treatment providers through secure video conferencing platforms, phone calls, or messaging apps. These sessions can be conducted in real-time using video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom or Skype.

Opioid Addiction Relapse Prevention

Relapse prevention is a crucial aspect of recovery, and there are several effective approaches. For example, individuals are encouraged to build a strong support network of family, friends, or support groups that provide encouragement and accountability. Engaging in ongoing therapy or counseling is vital, and it may allow long-lasting access to medication to help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

During recovery, it’s also important to continue honing healthy coping skills and managing stress by practicing mindfulness meditation or participating in relaxing or enjoyable recreational activities and hobbies. (10) Similarly, creating a structured routine and making lifestyle changes, such as finding a new social group to replace drug-enabling acquaintances, can be highly beneficial. Finally, prioritizing self-care, such as getting enough sleep, practicing good hygiene, and eating a balanced diet, is essential to maintaining health and well-being.

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Reach Out to Guardian Recovery To Learn More

Opioid addiction can take an overwhelming toll on the lives of those who suffer from this disease and their loved ones. Asking for help is the first step in the recovery process that can herald a new beginning and a healthier, happier life in recovery. If you are ready to begin your wellness journey, contact us today for a free, no-obligation health insurance benefits check and to learn more about our comprehensive programs and full spectrum of therapeutic services.


Do I have an Addiction issue?

Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

(1)https://oasas.ny.gov/providers/medications-treatment-opioid-use-disorder (2)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20356007 (3)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20360803 (4)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/bipolar-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355955 (5)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967 (6)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/adult-adhd/symptoms-causes/syc-20350878 (7)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354443 (8)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/personality-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20354463 (9)https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/eating-disorders/symptoms-causes/syc-20353603 (10)https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/mindfulness-exercises/art-20046356[/fusion_toggle][/fusion_accordion][/fusion_builder_column]

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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