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How Does Someone Get Help for Opiate Addiction

Opiates are strong narcotic drugs which are used as prescription painkillers. Misuse can lead to dependence and addiction due to the euphoric state it produces in individuals who take opiates. Physical and behavioral signs are evident in individuals with addiction. Find out more on how opiate addiction works and how to help a loved one who may be struggling.

Seeking Help

Prior to seeking treatment, it helps to understand how opiate addiction affects the body and mind. Opiate addiction is a complicated problem which requires three main types of treatment. Learn how to help opiate addiction by learning the three phases: withdrawal, stabilization and psychological treatment phase. 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.

Opiate withdrawal treatment

People who develop dependence on opiates often go through detox at the start of addiction treatment. Physical withdrawal symptoms may begin including agitation and cravings for the drug. Detox progresses as withdrawal symptoms become severe and may include nausea, vomiting, headaches, profuse sweating and tremors. A small percentage of opiate withdrawal cases may lead to death. Individuals who experience withdrawal are encouraged to do so under the supervision of medical professionals.

Stabilization after withdrawal

The period of time following opiate detox is critical to a person’s recovery. Even after withdrawal symptoms abate, many people with opiate addictions experience lingering mental and emotional issues. This phenomenon is known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome or PAWS. Common problems can occur with PAWS including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Intense cravings

Opiate PAWS may dramatically increase the likelihood of relapse. Depending on severity of the addiction, lingering effects may last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. Emotional support is critical during this time.

Psychological opiate addiction treatment

Treating physical and emotional symptoms of opiate withdrawal and PAWS is not enough. The road to recovery is long and requires treatment of the underlying reasons for addiction. The person with addiction must identify why the individual began using drugs to deal with problems and utilize counseling to support the process.

Getting Help

The first steps can be the most difficult to seek help for addiction but are crucial to success. This includes:

  • Building support of family, friends and loved ones who want to see the person get healthy
  • Utilize primary care physician to help manage physical withdrawal symptoms or referrals for further counseling
  • Opiate addiction treatment centers focus on education and treatment (inpatient and outpatient)
  • Spiritual leaders help support additional treatment and provide guidance during recovery

How to Help

Watching a loved one struggle with opiate addiction is challenging and heartbreaking. Staging an intervention and letting the person with addiction know how actions affect others can be helpful along with encouraging use of addiction recovery resources and participation in recovery. Support is critical to help the individual get through treatment and recover.


Helping loved ones with addiction can be difficult but familial support is critical to success in recovery. If you or a loved one need help getting past opiate addiction, call The Villa for guidance in the process.