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Opioid Detox

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Opioid Detox

Steps Recovery Center recognizes how vital the mind, body, and spirit are in their connection to the whole person. We take a holistic approach to treating drug addiction that includes treating the whole person, and find that it tends to be more successful, especially since drug addiction affects every aspect of a person’s life. With a customized and individualized program, a holistic approach just makes sense. It affords an opportunity to meet the patient’s physical and psychological needs and allows them to engage physically, emotionally, and mentally.

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General Information

Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive drug use that’s difficult to control. Although the initial choice to take drugs is voluntary, repeated drug use can lead to chemical changes in the brain that challenge a person’s self-control. These changes are persistent, making drug addiction a relapsing disease.

It’s common for a person in recovery to relapse, but that doesn’t mean treatment is ineffective. As with other chronic health conditions, treatment should be ongoing and tailored to a patient’s needs.

What is Medication-Assisted Opioid Detox?

Medically-supervised opioid detox involves the use of certain medications a doctor prescribes, to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms that can accompany the ceasing of using opioids. Symptoms that can be uncomfortable or painful include anxiety, drug cravings, restlessness, gastrointestinal distress, tachycardia, and excessive sweating.

Medications Used

The two most commonly used medications prescribed for opioid withdrawal are agonists methadone and buprenorphine (a partial agonist). Alpha-2 adrenergic agonists like clonidine and lofexidine are also used. The aim is to have the patient wean off the drug(s) as smoothly as possible with medication-assisted treatment. 

When this approach is used, it usually doesn’t result in sustained abstinence from opioids, nor does it address reasons for the abuse in the first place. It also doesn’t address the damage done to relationships, finances, or employment. It also doesn’t consider the physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual health of the individual. Keep in mind that full detoxification from opioids is only successfully achieved in transitioning to the intramuscular medication naltrexone. The patient will still be in a state of physiological dependence on opioid agonism when transitioning to methadone or buprenorphine.

Timeline of Using Medications

It’s important to note that the use of these medications to detox from opioids safely is a short-term treatment and that to recover fully, there needs to be long-term solutions. With that said, here is a timeline of starting the medically-assisted medication, buprenorphine, for opioid detox.

  • Immediately-8 hours after the last dose: The individual abstains from opioid use, or a medical professional imposes an 8-hour interval between previous opioid use and buprenorphine.
  • 24-48 hours later: The person begins treatment when they have mild-moderate symptoms, which can begin within 24-48 hours after stopping the drug.
  • The doctor verifies that the person hasn’t used methadone, oxycontin, or a long-acting opioid analgesic.
  • An appropriate maintenance dose is selected, beginning with a low dose.
  • 48-72 hours later: The dosage increases over several days if needed
  • 72-96 hours or more: Once withdrawal symptoms have abated, the patient is slowly weaned off the medication and transitions to naltrexone for the remainder of the withdrawal. 

Transitioning to Naltrexone

Naltrexone blocks the sedative and euphoric effects that opioids produce, so the person taking it doesn’t get the high it is used to achieving. This is so the individual’s brain can reset itself without the addictive drug, and the person’s cravings subside. The Food and Drug Administration, or the FDA, approved the use of naltrexone to help reduce the effects of withdrawal. If someone is using medically-assisted withdrawal with methadone or buprenorphine for detox, they have to be entirely off it to start naltrexone.


The drug can be given in pill form daily or as an injectable once a month. Naltrexone works differently than methadone or buprenorphine, which activates opioid receptors in the body that suppress cravings. With naltrexone, it binds and blocks opioid receptors, which helps reduce opioid cravings, and there’s no worry of abuse. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has more information on using these medical-assisted medications for opioid abuse.

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Joy Downen

10 weeks ago

This place is so wonderful and all of the staff care so very much! They are very professional and they know what they are doing. Absolutely amazing facility and staff!!!
Steps Recovery Centers Testimonials Nathan

Nathan Frame

28 weeks ago

Steps Recovery is the place you go if you want a caring and understanding program. They have helped me gain knowledge about myself and what I want/need to do. The staff there can relate and help you through core issues and they push you to do better because being in this program you know you can do big and amazing things. Also the therapists there are awesome and walk with you through struggles of life and give you the tools you truly need. Overall this place is an amazing opportunity and you’d be missing out on a lot if you chose to not at least try this program.
Steps Recovery Centers Testimonials Shaylesa

Shaylesa Stulce

46 weeks ago

Steps Recovery in St. George has been amazing! I’m so excited to use the tools that I’ve learned here! The staff is amazing, and very understanding! I would recommend them to anyone struggling with addiction!
Steps Recovery Centers Testimonial Adam Kelly

Adam Kelly

47 weeks ago

What I liked most about my time at Steps is the atmosphere that was presented during my whole stay. I have done a lot of treatment centers and this one is by far the one I have felt I gained the most from. I would highly recommend Steps to anybody struggling with addiction!
Steps Recovery Centers Testimonial Gary Hanson

Gary Hanson

47 weeks ago

Steps saved our daughter’s life as well as her kids!
Steps Recovery Centers Testimonial Natalie Painter

Natalie Painter

Jan 1, 2019

The staff and facility is amazing- Couldn’t ask for anything better. The program is well rounded with rec activities, equine therapy, gender therapy, group therapy, individual and couples therapy, and also attends various 12 Step support groups such as AA or NA. They also have family therapy and processing with options for individual settings or in a group. These help families understand what their loved ones who suffer from addiction is going through and how to support them, and also gives them their own support system.
Steps Recovery Centers Testimonial Brian Meyer

BRIAN MEYER

Nov 13, 2018

This place saved my life! The therapists were very helpful, friendly and really cared about the clients wellbeing. The tech’s were alway helpful with meds and anything that was needed. House manager was amazing, had high expectations on job duties, and kept a very clean organized atmosphere. Food was always amazing. I never went hungry! The information and skills that I have learned and applied to my life are priceless. If you’re not willing to put forth the work to change your life this is not your place, but if you are this is the first Step to take. I Love everyone at Steps. Thank you for all your help
Steps Recovery Centers Testimonials Matthew

Matthew Cromar

Aug 10, 2018

I’d been to other recovery centers before but this one was the best, it stuck because I was willing to do the work, and with the help I received from staff I am now celebrating a year of sobriety in a couple of days. Update; I’m now 18 months sober as of yesterday and I still keep in touch with my steps family. The lessons I learned at steps will stick with me for the rest of my life. Thank you for giving me my life back.
Steps Recovery Centers Guarantee

The Steps Recovery Centers Guarantee

Steps Recovery Centers guarantees that any person who completes the prescribed program is welcome to come back at any time for any reason for additional support at no charge for life. Nominal residency fees may apply. Please call for details.