Everything you need to know about opioid dependence and treatment options from Northlake.


Opioids are a class of drug that include both natural and synthetic drugs derived from or based on the poppy plant. The effects of the drugs work in the brain to relieve pain along with other effects. Synthetics opioids are commonly prescribed to treat pain are commonly known as painkillers.


Common opioids include:

  • Codeine
  • Diacetylmorphine
  • Fentanyl (Actiq, Sublimaze)
  • Hydrocodone (Lortab, Vicodin)
  • Morphine
  • Opium
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)
  • Oxymorphone
  • Tramadol

Treatment options at Northlake include:

  • Medically Monitored Detox
  • Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
  • Intensive Outpatient & Outpatient Treatment
  • Support Groups

Opioid Abuse

Opioids work by releasing large amounts of dopamine to flood the brain. This however rewires the brain and thought patterns and the opioids then becomes highly addictive. Opioids are commonly prescribed and can become addictive even if the prescription was taken as directed. Addicted individuals will prioritize using opioids over work, family, and social life often hurting these other aspects of their lives.


Risk Factors for Opioid Abuse

Individuals with mental illness such as depression or anxiety have a greater risk of opioid abuse and dependence. Additional risk factors include childhood trauma, poverty, and genetic risk factors including a family history of opioid abuse.


Opioids Dependence & Withdrawal

Opioid dependence is when an individual relies on regularly using opioids to feel normal. As soon as that person stops using heroin, there will be withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms feel similar to a flu and can include:

  • Achiness
  • Anxiety
  • Diarrhea
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Fever
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Itching
  • Paranoia
  • Restlessness
  • Runny nose
  • Seizures
  • Shaking
  • Sweating
  • Vomiting

Long term withdrawal symptoms can include depression and cravings which can last for weeks or months. There are treatments available to help with these symptoms.


Opioid Overdose

Opioids use can result in overdose which is life threatening. Even a single dose of opioids can cause respiratory depression and death.


Common signs of overdose include:

  • Arrythmia
  • Blue/Grey Skin
  • Convulsion
  • Dilated pupils
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Sweaty Skin
  • Vomiting


Diagnosis and Treatment of Opioid Dependence

Interventions in opioid dependence can reduce negative consequences of opioid use including physical, social, and financial costs.



Screening identifies the symptoms of opioid abuse and opioid dependence. Often, there are co-occurring mental illnesses identified during screening that are important in identifying for effective treatment.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

An individual first needs to get a comprehensive assessment that provides a full understanding of the severity of the opioid dependence. If an individual goes through detox before treatment, this would be considered acute detox which can last up to several days, but it depends on the severity of opioid use. Individuals with more mild opioid dependence can benefit from counseling sessions that are both group sessions and individual sessions that provide important insights and coping methods in a setting such as intensive outpatient and outpatient treatment. An individual might also need medication which would be MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment). This type of treatment is also paired with group sessions and individual sessions along with Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meetings for a support system.


Northlake offers the following types of treatments to help people suffering from opioid abuse including:

  • Medically Monitored Detox
  • Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)
  • Intensive Outpatient & Outpatient Treatment
  • Support Groups


Contact The Ness Center at Northlake today to discuss how we can help you begin your recovery journey: