What if one of your loved ones was suffering and you didn’t know how to help?

More and more Americans (2.5 million of them) are suffering from opioid use disorder. Although this epidemic is spreading, there are a number of medical treatment options to help someone begin healing.

Wondering what these medical treatment options are? Keep reading to find out!

Opioid Definition

Our guide covers the best possible medical treatments for opioid use disorder. First, though, we must define what opioids actually are.

As a term, “opioids” covers a wide range of narcotics. These include oxycodone, fentanyl, hydrocodone, and tramadol.

The intended medical purpose of opioids is pain relief. This is why many doctors prescribe opioids to patients who are experiencing extreme pain.

By definition, the use of these opioids is meant to be short-term. However, a growing number of people develop an addiction to opioids that is just as real (and just as scary) as any other drug addiction.

Diagnosing Addiction

How do you know when someone needs medical treatment for an opioid disorder? When they show signs of addiction to opioids. However, it can be difficult for friends and family members to recognize signs of addiction because they don’t know enough about it.

Drug addiction

The actual definition of addiction is pretty simple. Addiction has occurred when someone continues to do something regardless of the negative consequences. This can range from someone who keeps drinking despite physical illnesses to someone who continues to gamble despite how much money that have lost.

When it comes to opioids, the addiction is working on both a chemical and a behavioral level. This is why any good medical treatment plan should also include counseling.

The Relationship Between Counseling and Medication

Medical treatment for opioid addiction is pretty straightforward. Such treatment provides a chemical treatment for a chemical problem in the hopes of returning someone to a healthier version of themselves.

However, all addiction occurs because of certain behaviors. Maybe someone pops a pill whenever they are stressed, for example. Thus, comprehensive treatment involves counseling to help someone mitigate the actions that lead to addiction.

Counseling is also useful because it may help someone uncover the root cause of their opioiddisorder. For example, drug dependence and addiction may be caused by unresolved trauma in a person’s past.

And a counselor can help someone recognize and resolve that trauma. This can help with opioid disorder and also help them avoid future destructive behaviors.

Now that you know a bit more about opioids, addiction, and counseling, it’s time to review the chief medical treatment options that are available.

Methadone and Buprenorphine

We have bundled Methadone and Buprenorphine together for a simple reason: they operate on a similar chemical level and perform the same role in treating opioid addiction.

Basically, both of these treatments target the same areas of the mind that opioids do. Fortunately, neither of these treatments will cause a person to feel high in the way that opioids do.

The goal of such treatment is to restore balance to your brain and your life. And because these substances are safe, a person can take them for many years as needed.

Remember, though, that nobody should begin or end such a treatment plan without medical supervision.


Generally speaking, Methadone and Buprenorphine are used to treat things like opioidcravings and/or withdrawal symptoms. Naltrexone, though, has a different function altogether.

Naltrexone functions to remove the “high” that someone feels whenever they take opioids. Therefore, its chief purpose is to prevent someone from having a relapse if they need to take opioids again in the future.

As with the other treatment options, it’s vital to get a medical opinion on when (or whether) someone should begin taking Naltrexone. If someone has not been off opioids for at least a week, for example, Naltrexone may trigger painful withdrawal symptoms.


As you can imagine, some treatment options involve a mixture of these substances. Suboxoneis one such substance because it is a mixture of Buprenorphine and Naltrexone.

You probably have a simple question about this treatment: how does Suboxone work? The two primary substances combine to help someone avoid falling into an opioid addiction.

Suboxone doesn’t work well alongside longterm opioid use. But if someone will only be on opioids for a short time, a doctor may prescribe Suboxone to mitigate the chances of addiction.

Treatment Location Options

Let’s say you’re interested in medical treatment for yourself or someone you care about. Where is the best place to receive such treatment?

Residential treatment is very straightforward: it means that the patient stays in their own home while receiving medical treatment. This plan works well if the person has a reliable network of supportive friends and family (more on this in a minute).

For someone with less of a support system, or who needs more extensive treatment, multiple hospital treatment options are available. These range from simple outpatient procedures to more extended inpatient treatment plans.

No one form of treatment is perfect for everyone. The most important thing is that a person gets the help they need.

The Role of Friends and Family

If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re concerned about opioid addiction among your friends and family. Aside from urging treatment, what should your role be during someone’s addiction?

For residential treatment, your first responsibility is making sure someone takes their medication. You are basically taking the place of the doctors and nurses that would otherwise be overseeing a patient.

More broadly, though, you are here to offer moral support. Addicts often worry about being judged or even shunned by those they care about the most. By showing that your love and support is unconditional, you can help someone find the strength to fight their addiction.

Opioid Use Disorder: What Comes Next? 

Now you know about treatments for opioid use disorder. But do you know who can help you and those you love to stay healthy?

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