One of the most effective ways to help a person that is struggling with opioid addiction is to place them into a medication-assisted treatment program. The reason being is that when people abuse opioids for an extended period of time their bodies become dependent on them. Drug addiction is a lot more serious than most people realize. It’s a good thing that there are programs available to help get people off of them and keep them from using them ever again.

Drug Addiction as a Whole

When somebody mentions drug addiction in a generalized manner there is much left to the imagination. Yes, there are the physical aspects of drug addiction, however, not all drugs are the same. Some drugs do not render the user helplessly sick if they stop using them. Some drugs, such as alcohol and opioids, cause the person great harm if they suddenly stop taking them.

When a person is struggling with addiction they are not themselves. Drugs become the priority in their life and everything else is secondary. When the shift between priorities over drugs or anything else becomes grossly out of balance, the addicted person tends to get into a lot of trouble.

Although there are many people that do not understand addiction or the way that it grips the people that it invades, the truth is that the world is a better place with addiction resources available to the ones that need them.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

There is a misconception about addiction treatment with the use of drugs. It seems like there are people who that believe if you give the suffering addict drugs to calm them down and help them out they will be able to wean away from the drugs that they are currently using and live happily ever after. This is not how it works.

Although you may be able to give somebody that is jacked up on amphetamines something to calm them down and help them to ease through the plights of anxiety that follow the typical coming down period, heroin and other opioids are an altogether different story.

Prolonged use of opiates results in a shutdown in the brain. Where a person that does not use opiates will naturally produce endorphins in the brain that help to keep the body calm, ease body aches, regulate blood pressure and keep the body in balance the person that abuses opiates will fail to produce such endorphins. The brain decides that it no longer needs to produce these compounds because they are already present in the system and things only get worse from there.

Of course, if the person continues to self-medicate with whatever source of opiates they are using, everything will be alright. But if the person fails to get a dose after 12 hours or so, they start to feel the results. Between 24 and 48 hours, symptoms become severe and relentless.

  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Trembling
  • Vomiting
  • Spasms
  • Cravings
  • Agitation
  • Depression
  • Various maladies

One of the great things about being assisted with medication is that it helps the person ease through the withdrawal process and not have to endure the grueling agony of it all.

What is Suboxone?

Suboxone is a popular type of medication that is specifically designed to ease the symptoms of withdrawal while purposefully blocking the user from feeling any of the euphoric effects. Suboxone is actually a combination of two medications that work with each other to maintain a level of balance that lessons withdrawal symptoms and eases cravings.

One of the medications in Suboxone is buprenorphine, which is called a partial opioid agonist. What this means is that it is an opioid, but only produces a limited effect on the patient when it attaches to an opioid receptor in the brain.

So, if you compare buprenorphine with full opioid agonists such as heroin, hydrocodone, morphine, and methadone you can see where it would be beneficial for weaning a patient off of full-fledged opiates. In a sense, it is a watered-down version or “cut” version of an opiate.

When you put buprenorphine and naloxone which is an ‘opioid antagonist’ or an opioid blocker into one solution you end up with a powerful medication that safely leads the patient through the withdrawal process and allows them to gradually lose the cravings and the need for opiates.

What is Methadone?

Methadone is a very common solution for people who are struggling with opioid addiction. However, it is a full opioid agonist that is just as potent and addictive as heroin. In fact, people often have a harder time getting off of methadone than they do heroin or even pills.

Where heroin and other opiates are semi-synthetic drugs, methadone is a fully synthetic version of an opiate. 

One of the common problems with so-called drug rehabilitation using methadone as a recovery tool is that they make problems worse by making “recovery plans” for the patient to continue using the methadone for an indefinite amount of time. 

Instead of sticking to the plan of gradually weaning the person off of the drug, they string them along and continue to bill their insurance company as they go forward with their “recovery.”

Some facilities will stick to the plan and gently wean the patient off of the drug, and allow them to get completely off of it within a certain amount of time. Most methadone “clinics” will push for the patient to continue with the use of methadone for as long as their medical insurance provider will cover it.

The term the agencies use to describe methadone clinics is “harm reduction.” Although there is a legitimate need for such treatment, many of the people that are offered a harm reduction program are unaware of other options.

5 Benefits of Medication Assisted Treatment | MAT in Ohio

The Medication-Assisted Drug Treatment Program

When a person that is struggling with addiction finds their way into any sort of treatment program it is a good thing. Treatment programs want to help the suffering person and give them all of the resources and support that they need in order to break free from the unforgiving chains of addiction.

The first thing that most treatment programs will do when a new patient comes in is get the history of the person and know the facts about who they are, what drugs they use, how old they are, their condition of health, and when was the last time they used.

In order to properly assist a person that needs medication-assisted treatment they have to know as much information as possible. Otherwise, they could be putting them at risk if they put medication into their body.

The standard method for a drug treatment program is:

  • Intake
  • Detox
  • Medication
  • Counseling
  • Group therapy

The main goal of the treatment program is to get the patient off of the drug and allow them to heal from the damage that the drugs have done to them. As they heal, the program will give support and resources so that the patient has the tools and mindset to stop using drugs for good.

One of the best things a treatment facility can do for a struggling addict is to introduce them to a 12-step fellowship where they can meet other people that have gotten away from drug use and have found a better way to live.

12 Step Programs

Although 12-step programs are not the only way for a person to stay away from drugs and alcohol, they are certainly the most popular. The reason why they are so effective is that they provide the person with a community of other people that have had the same type of struggles that they have had. In addition to a positive community, the members encourage each other to live life in a way that is beneficial to themselves and the world around them.

For somebody in the throes of addiction, a 12-step program might not make much sense, but when somebody is ready to make a change this type of fellowship can be monumental.

The way that an addiction treatment program and a 12-step program work together is that the treatment facility gives the struggling addict a safe haven to go and detox from the drugs without having to worry about the world that might be crumbling around them.

Once the person has been off of the drugs long enough to feel better, they can participate in a 12-step program to help them stay off of the drugs. For many people that struggle with addiction, getting off the drugs is only the beginning. Staying off of them is an altogether different level of living. The 12-step program shows people how to stay off drugs and live a productive life.


Although there is a heavy stigma against people that struggle with drugs and addiction, people do recover. All they have to do is be willing to make a change. Because of resources like medication-assisted programs, drug rehabilitation centers, 12-step fellowships, and many more, once a person makes a choice to stop the madness, there are plenty of resources available to them. All they have to do is look for help and make the decision to move forward.