Counseling for Opioid Addiction: Why Medication is Not Enough

Young girl gets counseling for opioid addiction.
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Data collected by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) revealed that in 2018, 128 people died each day from an opioid overdose. The very effectiveness of pain-relieving and mood-elevating opioids like codeine and hydrocodone is one of the key reasons they are so highly addictive.

While opioids have been prescribed as the “magic pill” for feeling better, there is no magic pill for overcoming opioid addiction. Medication alone is not enough. Successful treatment must also include counseling for opioid addiction. The combination of medication and therapy is typically referred to as medication-assisted treatment, or MAT, and is considered the gold standard of treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD).

What is OUD?

At one time, opioid use disorder was erroneously segregated into two categories: opioid abuse, if the symptoms were social and behavioral, and opioid dependence if the symptoms were physical.

Young girl struggling with opioid addiction

With the publication of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association revised it to a single diagnosis with varying severity depending on the number of symptoms present, regardless of type. Symptoms can include:

  • Loss of control
  • Risky use
  • Social impairment
  • Tolerance
  • Withdrawal

Opioids work. Therein lies the problem. They run interference and block the pain, and can have a euphoric effect. It feels good to feel good, so people keep using them. Unfortunately, as with most substances, the more you use the more you need. In that lies the danger.

Explaining MAT: Medication-Assisted Treatment

Not only can recovery from opioid addiction be nearly impossible without medication-assisted treatment, but it can also be dangerous and even deadly. Freeing yourself from long-term high-dose use of opioids can put too much strain on your body and cause many problems.

MAT is a holistic, comprehensive therapy that is customized to meet each patient’s needs, both physical and emotional. Through the combined use of medication and counseling for opioid addiction, the goals of MAT are to:

  • Identify underlying or co-occurring disorders
  • Reduce illicit use of opioids
  • Increase commitment to a recovery program
  • Improve patient survival and long-term sobriety

Explaining the “Assistance” in Medication-Assisted Treatment

Any type of addiction has psychological effects. To treat opioid addiction as a physical addiction only is a recipe for failure. There may have been a co-occurring disorder like depression before the opiate use began, or there can be a feeling of failure present now because of the addiction. Regardless of the origin, counseling for opioid addiction is a must.

Through individual, group, family, and other therapies, a person in recovery can address all issues to become a happier, healthier individual. Counseling can help to:

  • Provide multiple sources of support
  • Identify additional needs
  • Comply with the correct use of medication-assisted treatment
  • Foster inspiration to succeed
  • Instill coping mechanisms

Group therapy for opioid addiction.

Rediscover the Real You

You have the strength; we provide the hope and skills. Contact Pinnacle Treatment Centers for more information about our opioid our heroin Addiction treatment services. Just call 800-782-1520 or complete the online form and we will reach out to you. It’s the first step in your path to recovery.