Find an opioid addiction treatment and rehab program that matches your recovery goals.

What Are Opioids?

Opioid is a term used to classify a group of drugs with a particular molecular makeup that makes them ideal for treating symptoms of pain. Although the term “opioid” only originally referred to synthetically made painkillers, or narcotics, such as Fentanyl and Oxycontin, it has more recently come to refer to both naturally and synthetically made medications with this similar molecular composition. However, “opiate” is another term that is still used to refer to naturally occurring opioids derived from opium. Natural opioid includes morphine, codeine, and heroin.

Substances classified as opioids have several common characteristics in addition to their chemical composition. This includes the way in which they interact with receptors in the brain, causing an altered perception of pain and a sedative effect. Additionally, all opioid medications are addictive to some degree.


Opioids are widely prescribed to treat pain, regardless of the cause. In fact, the most potent synthetic opioid on the market, fentanyl, is even used in epidurals given to pregnant women who are in labor. Being addictive substances, opioid drugs have also been widely abused. In fact, they have been so widely prescribed over the past several decades that the White House declared the opioid crisis a Public Health Emergency in 2017. In 2018, the largest legislative package in history to address a drug crisis was passed. It was referred to as the SUPPORT Act.

Identifying Opioid Addiction

To treat opioid addiction, someone must first recognize that there is a problem. Although it is ideal for the individual struggling to seek treatment on their own, it could be a friend, family member, or even a co-worker who recognizes the problem and starts the process of getting help. Identifying an opioid addiction may be difficult at the beginning, but several signs may present themselves as opioid addiction progresses. 

Signs of Opioid Addiction

  • Opioid use increases over time
  • Withdrawal symptoms present when the individual stops using
  • Using more than is prescribed or more than desired
  • Doctor shopping
  • A lack of interest in activities that the user previous found enjoyable
  • Negative consequences of using (i.e., losing a job or relationship strains)
  • Obsessive thoughts about acquiring or using opioids
  • Unsuccessful attempts to stop using
  • The presence of drug paraphernalia (i.e., a syringe, spoon, and lighter)

How Opioid Addiction Is Treated

The first step to treating opioid addiction is the step mentioned above, identifying the problem. Next, the individual and their loved ones need to develop a plan for treatment. This plan can be developed with the help of an addiction treatment facility like Lighthouse Recovery Institute.

Types of Opioids

There are a number of different opioids. As mentioned above, some are naturally occurring chemical compounds and others are synthetically made. Other than how they are made, the main differences between these substances are how strong they are. For instance, heroin is more potent than morphine, and fentanyl is more potent than heroin. Here is a list of the common forms of opiates and opioids:



Fentanyl is a prescription opioid painkiller. The drug is so potent that doctors use it for patients who have fatal cancer. It is available as a transdermal patch and in oral and injectable formulations, which makes the drug very easy to use.



Heroin is one of the leading contributors to the opiate epidemic. Heroin can be ingested in three ways, injecting, smoking or snorting. The “high” from heroin will last a short amount of time, making the user need more of the drug. 



Methadone is a drug that is often used to ease the severity of drug withdrawal symptoms that occur during the detoxification process. Methadone assistances people addicted to other drugs experience a reduction in withdrawal symptoms. The drug has the potential to become highly addictive.



OxyContin is the prescription version of an opioid narcotic pain medicine called oxycodone. This opioid is used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. There is a high level of alarm about OxyContin abuse and addiction among teens and young adults.



Pharmaceutical opiates are a severe threat to public health. Since doctors prescribe prescription drugs such as Percocet, many tend to believe that they are safer and less harmful than illicit drugs or “street drugs.” The associated risk of overdose, respiratory depression, and accidental death are as high as heroin.



Suboxone is used to treat opioid addiction. It is called a partial opioid agonist because it binds to the same brain receptors as opioids but is not an opioid itself. Just as with every other form of Suboxone, Suboxone strips are prescribed to treat opioid dependence.



Tramadol is a synthetic opioid pain reliever that is prescribed in pill or capsule form to manage moderate to severe pain. Patients have greater trust in Tramadol than other opioids, but this medication can be highly addictive.


Opioid Detox

Within hours of discontinuing opioid use, withdrawal symptoms will likely present. Opioid detox programs provide a safe and secure space where withdrawal symptoms can be actively managed. Attending an opioid detox program can also reduce the rate of relapse in these first days of recovery.

Inpatient & Outpatient Treatment

Following detox, the next step in the recovery plan will likely include inpatient opioid addiction treatment or a high level of outpatient care. Ask us about partial hospitalization or intensive outpatient treatment at Lighthouse. After completing these higher levels of care, less intensive outpatient treatment is likely to be continued for several months as a part of an aftercare program.


We are here to support you during your time of need and help you make the best decision for yourself or your loved one. Click below to speak to a member of our staff directly.

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