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Faced with breaking an opiate drug abuse habit, patients in detox and rehabilitation programs have many options. Choosing the right avenue for an individual’s addiction issues can take some trial and error. However, it is statistically proven that seeking opiate addiction treatment – rather than attempting to break the habit on one’s own, without assistance – makes the chances of quitting for good much higher.

Detox – Only the First Step

Many patients and families mistakenly believe that participating in a detox program can cure their loved one’s addiction. However, the likelihood is that without additional assistance, this detox period will be just that – a period of cleanliness and clear-headedness amid a life of chaos. Most addicts of heroin, prescription drugs and other opiates face a cycle of detox and relapse that can last years or even decades. To break that cycle, it is important to seek professional assistance beyond the detox phase.

Medically-Assisted Detox and Step-Down

Ceasing the use of opiate drugs can be difficult, both emotionally and physically. Not only do addicts have trouble letting go of what has become a coping mechanism for stress and sadness in their lives, but withdrawal from opiates can cause uncomfortable and even dangerous symptoms.

Doctors are able to ease these symptoms for patients with the use of replacement medications. These drugs are meant to ease patients off of the level of opiate use they currently engaged in by providing only part of the chemicals needed for the reward system in the brain stimulated by opiate use.

Newer drugs like Suboxone are combination therapies that provide a safer way for step-down to occur, as they do not provide the same disorienting high or euphoria associated with methadone and other previous methods. This makes them safer to use and allows patients going through detox to engage in more normal activities while using these replacements.

Twelve Step Programs

One of the most popular types of post-detox treatment is the twelve-step program. These programs – such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous – help patients develop coping mechanisms to deal with stress in a drug-free way and provide support and encouragement during rehabilitation. Combining these programs with traditional or medically-assisted detoxification can lead to excellent results and help keep patients accountable for months or even years after their initial detox.

Regardless of which type of opiate addiction treatment a patient chooses, their most important choice is to seek help at all. Encourage your friend or loved one who is looking to make positive change in their life, and if you’re the one looking for help know that you are not alone in this. For more information about treatment options and how to get the help you need, visit AddictionAlternatives.org.

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